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HindustanTimes Fri,01 Aug 2014
Is AAP any different from other political parties?
Chanakya , Hindustan Times
November 16, 2013
First Published: 23:16 IST(16/11/2013)
Last Updated: 23:19 IST(16/11/2013)

For a man with an avowed disdain for the political system, Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal sure has taken to it like a fish to water. Okay, I know that some of you feel that he may bring about a refreshing change to the jaded politics of today.

Many feel that his folksy wisdom is better than BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi's hyperbole and the Congress's challenger Rahul Gandhi's elliptical references to his family's sacrifices.

Of course, we cannot forget Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit when we talk of dear Arvind, who is determined to show the poor lady the door.

In case you thought that along the way he may lose his common touch, the AAP has taken the broom as its election symbol. And as you pass autorickshaw after autorickshaw in the Capital, we see Arvind looking purposeful and wielding a broom, all the better to clean the Augean stables of democracy.

No doubt, he has overcome his aversion to politics, or maybe he is making the supreme sacrifice of joining a system to fight it from within.

I have no truck with the Subramanian Swamys who are making a song and dance about funding. If the AAP has taken funding from foreign sources, so have all the others. I would like to know where Narendra Modi gets the money to put up these mega events which he modestly calls rallies.

Or who forks out for the Congress paraphernalia when its stars go on election campaigns. I do believe this is a non-issue which only serves to divert from the really disquieting things about the AAP, which is supposed to be a party with a difference and has a leader whose only ambition is to give us a clean brand of governance. Mind you, I said, governance, not politics.

 So let us have a look at what the AAP promises us which is different from the wares that Sheila Dikshit has on offer in Delhi. The party leaders, if elected, will not have a red beacon on their cars. Will they even have cars?  They will not live in bungalows in the sylvan surroundings of Lutyens' Delhi.

They will not use any security. Wunderbar. But how does this help the average Joe? Will it ensure that he gets clean drinking water, affordable healthcare, education for his children, a roof over his head, a decent livelihood, security.

I don't think so, unless Arvind can pull off some kind of political alchemy by which he can convert these sacrifices into tangible benefits for the people.

Now you will think that this is a rant against an attempt by a well-meaning man to cleanse the system. In which case, I must ask why he tried to indulge in a bit of vote-bank politics by embracing a controversial Muslim cleric only to recant in public.

I would also like to know why a member of his own party accused him of using his image on all party posters and literature, almost as though no other leader existed. I cannot see this attitude going down well with the rank and file of the fledgling party.

And we thought the dear man positively shunned the politics of personality. Now and again, there are allegations that he has been less than judicious with the truth about funds coming in for party work, but let us disregard that as the handiwork of envious individuals who are status quoists.

But, it was not a man who disdained politics that we saw in Arvind in Hisar where his one-point agenda was to defeat the Congress in that election.

My point is whether the AAP can offer us anything different. Yes, the concept of separate manifestos touching on the problems of different constituencies is a novel and worthy one.

But does the AAP or anyone else for that matter have the bandwidth to deliver on them? What does Arvind, who hopes to rule the capital of India have to say about the many problems that people face, from unchecked migration to lack of basic amenities? Will he be able to make the city safer for women? Will he be able to tackle hoarders who are pushing up prices of food items so much that the common man can no longer enjoy a decent meal?

I feel decidedly nervous to have a party with no particular agenda other than some esoteric fight against corruption, an on-again, off-again jan lokpal Bill proposal and a promise to defeat both the BJP and the Congress taking over the reins of an unwieldy and complex city like Delhi.

I am sure that Arvind means really well, but he does seem to have a problem of pulling his team along.

The one thing I can tell for sure is that if the AAP wins, it will be because it is no different from other parties, it will be because it is yet another cynical political formation.

If it does not win, I can quite see it being a spoiler and this will benefit either of the big two. I feel disheartened that the promise of a political party which would be like a breath of fresh air in the firmament has turned out to be just another one in the classical cookie cutter mould of the old parties.

All I can be grateful for is that if nothing else, the AAP has given the other parties a bit of a fright. They will have to stop taking the voter for granted as much as they have done.

So I guess Arvind has his uses, whether or not he makes a clean sweep of things, with aid of his trusty broom.


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