As individuals of diverse ideological persuasions join the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), Arvind Kejriwal’s broom faces a real possibility of being swept away by the conflicting characters at play.
Pitched against a Kumar Vishwas, a self confessed Modi-admirer is a Mallika Sarabhai, who hates Modi. A pro-market Meera Sanyal and V Balakrishnan stand opposite the anti-market brigade of Kamal Mitra Chenoy and Medha Patkar.
These apparent internal differences of opinion between leaders of the party seem to have made AAP a boiling pot.
Political experts speculate that AAP might just implode internally.
“It is going to be extremely difficult for the party to reach a consensus on bigger issues,” Neera Chandhoke, a professor of political science at Delhi University told HT.
According to Chandhoke various disparate groups have come together on non-ideological issues that no one would have quarrel with. However as the party confronts bigger issues like the Kashmir or FDI that require clear ideological positioning there is going to a huge problem she said.
Badri Narayan, a social historian at GB Pant Institute of Social Sciences, Allahabad agreed with Chandhoke. “As Congress minister Jairam Ramesh said AAP is not a party, it’s a platform for disparate groups that harbour political aspiration.” He also termed the influx of prominent personalities as ‘sheer opportunism’.
While one can’t call the new entrants, specially the prominent ones, as opportunists just yet, their ideological leanings stands in contrast to that of the party. Take for example the case of Meera Sanyal, the former CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland, India. As president of Indian Liberal Group (ILG) that strongly vouches for free economy, she stands pitted directly against party’s stand on FDI in retail.
While Sanyal has kept mum (she refused to comment) on the subject, V Balakrishnan, another corporate honcho (ex-finance chief of Infosys), was evasive when quizzed about the economic merits and fall-out of AAP-led Delhi government’s decision to roll back FDI in multi-brand retail in Delhi.
“There cannot be a black and white view on the FDI in multi-brand retail. The AAP government had already promised to roll back the retail FDI if voted to power and since Delhi’s population voted in favour of AAP, the party has only fulfilled their electoral promise,” Balakrishnan said.
Another issue that is going to the bone of contention is communalism. AAP leader Kumar Vishwas has made disparaging remarks against the minorities, and even written poems singing paeans to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi. His stand pitches him against another AAP member Mallika Sarabhai who has asked Vishwas to make his views clear.
Other important issues like Kashmir, Maoism and reservation will also test party’s unity in the coming days. Its prominent leader Prashant Bhushan stands for referendum in Kashmir while Kejriwal does not. Again another AAP leader Yogendra Yadav first declares party support for reservation for the lower class and then says he was misquoted.
“The party is soon going to collapse under the weight of contradictions,” said Badri Narayan.
Kamal Mitra Chenoy, a professor of international studies at JNU and AAP member said the party would be able to sort out the differences. “We have 31 committees on a variety of subjects precisely for the purpose of debate within the party,” he said. Mallika Sarabhai, like Chenoy was hopeful too. “I have full confidence that in a very short while we will get all our fundamentals right.” she told HT.
Captain Gopinath, the founder of budget airline Air Deccan, said the party must take its time and come out with a long term vision for India that will remove poverty and improve living standards and create a happy society.”