To understand the situation that the AAP finds itself in, we must first get back to the roots of the party. Birthing from the ‘India Against Corruption’ movement, AAP became a conglomerate of the righteous and ideologically superior mob. It gave hope to that virtuous fellow who always criticizes governance but could never do anything about it. To quote Enterprise by Nissim Ezekiel,
“It started as a pilgrimage
Exalting minds and making all
The burdens light”
But all that was not to be. What the makers of AAP have failed to realize is that politics isn’t a principled man’s game but a pragmatist’s way of life.
AAP’s idea was to promote good, clean and transparent governance, which is every individual’s right. It was banking on the fact that it was totally non-corrupt and occupied the moral high ground as far as the two leading parties, BJP and Congress are concerned. This is what garnered it support from Delhi’s middle and lower classes, tired from the deep-rooted corruption, which victimized them on a daily basis. AAP was promising a new system, making the people the most significant stakeholders of governance. Now that they’ve had a taste of governance, they are realizing how difficult it is to deliver what they have promised.
The system is in such a state of rot that the government of a small state has no option but to adapt or fail. Kejriwal has realized that greasing palms is a way of life in India and as long as it gets the job done most people never seem to care. By alienating corporates, AAP will deprive itself of donations, rendering itself incapable of fighting the Congress and the BJP in the long run. By providing free water and highly subsidized electricity, it is hijacking the state’s revenue in order to gain brownie points. I believe that Kejriwal has finally decided to make the shift from an idealist to a pragmatist and other members of the AAP cannot handle this.
Everyone joined AAP thinking they were here to make a difference. They were all closet idealists who had revolutionary ideas if only someone could give them the platform to implement them. Kejriwal is now taking away this hope from them and no doubt it’s hard to digest. But that’s politics for you, it turns the most righteous into the sinfully realistic, which is the only way to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of politics. Anyone who thinks the system can change is only promoting a naïve, pipe dream which cannot be realized. AAP tried to showcase this dream to the public, playing on people’s idea of an idealistic society, only to fall on their face once they realized it wasn’t possible.
AAP promoted the idea of internal party democracy (something that Congress should learn). However, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan have failed to realize the limits of this policy. Today AAP exists because of Kejriwal and Kejriwal exists because of AAP. Just like the Gandhi family exists because of Congress and Congress exists because of the Gandhi family. Just like Modi exists because of BJP and BJP exists because of Modi. The difference in all these scenarios is that Modi and Kejriwal exist because of their popularity among the masses. Need I say more?
Yadav and Bhushan need to realize that Kejriwal is the center around him the party has to rotate and despite the fact that they would’ve sworn to party democracy before, they have to accept Kejriwal as the boss and not the first among equals. By acceding to this reality, AAP will break its promise to the public and turn just like any other political party in India. It has to do this to survive. The party cannot be run in the way they promised to run it earlier. If Kejriwal goes, Yadav and Bhushan go back to becoming a political analyst and a lawyer, respectively.
Not only is this holier-than-thou agenda a recipe for failure, it will fail to bring AAP allies in the long run. If AAP wants to keep its promises of being non-corrupt and uncompromising, it can never ally with any other political party due to its strong ideological stance against all things bad in politics. If AAP doesn’t let go of this stance, its stint in politics will end sooner rather than later. Perhaps Kejriwal has realized this (remember the allegations of bribing Congress MLAs). But here’s the catch, once AAP lets go of this ideological stance of it, it becomes frighteningly like the Congress. A left-of-center approach is common among both parties, which is responsible for the deep-seated rot in the economy. AAP has no agenda left and the Congress will steal its thunder time and again thanks to its experience, pragmatism and financial soundness.
To summarize AAP’s journey in politics:
ENTERPRISE BY NISSIM EZEKIEL
It started as a pilgrimage
Exalting minds and making all
The burdens light, The second stage
Explored but did not test the call.
The sun beat down to match our rage. 5
We stood it very well, I thought ,
Observed and put down copious notes
On things the peasants sold and bought
The way of surpants and of goats.
Three cities where a sage had taught 10
But when the differences arose
On how to cross a desert patch,
We lost a friend whose stylish prose
Was quite the best of all our batch.
A shadow falls on us and grows . 15
Another phase was reached when we
Were twice attacked , and lost our way.
A section claimed its liberty
To leave the group. I tried to prey .
Our leader said he smelt the sea 20
We noticed nothing as we went ,
A straggling crowd of little hope,
Ignoring what the thunder ment ,
Deprived of common needs like soap.
Some were broken , some merely bent. 25
When, finally , we reached the place ,
We hardly know why we were there.
The trip had darkened every face,
Our deeds were neither great nor rare.
Home is where we have to gather grace.