The newspapers and TV channels have suddenly found a topic for increasing their TRP ratings. It is Arvind Kejriwal. Or to be precise, the AAP. We yet don’t know which of these two has captured the imagination of our media, press and politicians. It is kind of a sudden change in weather conditions which nobody is prepared to face. That explains to some extent the euphoria in the media about AAP and Kejriwal and gloomy outbursts in the political firmament. So we know today everything from early childhood to schooling to IIT to Tata Steel to IRS to RTI to AAP about Kejriwal. More interesting is the waiting foxes awaiting the opening notes of the first song! They have failed to correctly assess the newbie before the elections, then repeated their miscalculations after the results and are again committing another folly. The first assessment made by them has been rubbished by the voter, the second by the none too innocent AAP & Kejriwal and his team and the third one of pouncing on the fragile government in a few days of its being in office or pulling the rug from under its feet under some pretext will get them what they fear most: voter punishment at the polls this coming 2014. As the Congress thought small of the AAP and Kejriwal only two months ago, they continued in the same mind set even after the declaration of the results when they were quick to write to the LG of Delhi extending “unconditional outside support” to the AAP if it formed the government, with the singular objective of “keeping the BJP out of power” or “keeping communal forces out of power”. They imagined that the AAP, which had made it public from day one that it will not seek support of either the Congress or the BJP for government formation, will reject the offer made by them in their letter to the LG extending unconditional support to the AAP. The credibility of the Congress and its leaders is so low in public perception that nobody trusted them. But as the Congress was playing games, the AAP turned out to be more than their match when they did not reject the invitation from the LG to form the government, but asked for some time to consider the proposal. That was a red herring to the Congress, who didn’t know what to do in these circumstances. As the people had never believed them to be honest about their offer of unconditional support, the Congress found itself in double bind, for reneging on the written assurance would have only further strengthened the public perception about the unreliability of the Congress Party, which would have proved too costly for it in the forthcoming General Elections next year. The AAP proved to be too smart for the seasoned politicians of whom the GOP of India can always boast and created a political theatre of the absurd for them, where every political party was exposed while Kejriwal gave the impression of being the illusory God. The AAP released a list of 18 action points, which it termed as conditions, for the Congress and the BJP to respond to before it went to the people for a referendum whether the AAP should form the government. Since the parties were not used to this kind of politicking nor were they organized to complete such an onerous (Congress & BJP etc)job in such a short time, they thought the AAP would either fail or will not get a go ahead from the people. So they started alleging that the AAP was now running away from its responsibility of giving Delhi the government of their dreams, as they had won the election on false promises that are impossible to fulfill, such as reduction in electricity tariffs by 50% or supplying 700 litres of municipal drinking water free to every Delhi household. This was the greatest mistake the political parties made in understanding the new breed of politicians and their working methodologies. While the AAP, especially Kejriwal, were working to a model, design and programme in a very well organized but invisible manner, the Congress and the BJP mistook it for a temporary phenomenon. The outgoing Delhi Chief Minister of the Congress Party Ms Shiela Dixit, called the AAP monsoon insects (Barsati keede) and other stalwarts of the party went down further when they equated the AAP to maggots in the drains (Nali ke keede). Both the Congress and the BJP started taunting the AAP, its leadership and the election manifesto by calling their promises as un-implementable. They are now waiting only to see the down fall of the AAP as a political initiative of a new kind and the minority government, propped up by the support of the 8 number of Congress MLAs. How much price does the Congress want to extract from the Aam Aadmi Party for the support of its 8 members? On the other hand, the BJP’s grievance is that the AAP has gone back on its public announcements that it will not take support of the Congress for government formation and that it is insulting the people’s verdict against the Congress government covered with ignominious scams like the CWG, 2G or the Coalgate. The irony of the situation is the failure of both the parties in underestimating the power of the educated youth, technology and empowerment of the masses by technology. Today’s Indian is different from the Indian of 2000 AD. The leadership in all political parties remains in the hands of old guards who were used to debate slight increase of a few paise in the price of a postcard, telephone tariff, power tariff, water tariff or public transport fares. It is the same leadership which used to consider a fax machine or a photocopier or a mobile handset as “luxury” and tax it heavily not long ago. The so called luxury of the mobile phone has become the necessity of even a seasonal labourer all over India. They have access to radio and particularly the television and are now more than ever in complete knowledge of all kinds of developments, opinions and character of the leaders, ministers and administrators. They refuse to be fooled anymore by the leaders and ministers, promising freebies at the time of elections, only to oppress them after the elections. The access to the internet in Indian homes has further empowered the people, who now demand answers and want to be equal partners rather remaining the “ruled” class only. It is this Change, which lies behind the stunning success of the AAP. If the political parties want to remain in the arena, they will need to update themselves on these developments; vacate space in their territory for the youth who can match the AAP supporters and leaders as equals; substitute the political rhetoric of finding faults and pointing weaknesses in the opposite party by the lingo and jargon of the new age leaders like Arvind Kejriwal and his team. At the moment the political parties don’t appear to be equipped with it but they can’t afford to delay the redoing the entire architecture and interior designing before they face the next election, unless they don’t mind getting swept off their feet in the parliamentary elections next year.
Now for the possibility of implementing the AAP promises. No one should remain under any illusion- these promises can be fulfilled, and earlier than what many would imagine. The failed governance in the country owes it to ubiquitous corruption, epitomized by the Ms Shiela Dixit government of Delhi and the UPA-II led by Dr. Manmohan Singh ofd the Congress Party. Once the operators of corruption realize that the new set of government is dead against corruption, they will close shop in no time and will try their level best to lead the future anti-corruption campaigns from the front (in the hope to cleverly replace the incumbent order run by the anti-corruption crusaders). The entire demand-supply mismatch, rise in prices of essential commodities, inflation, black money, parallel economy and unemployment (including under-employment and under-payment) is a direct fall out of corruption in the country. The reason for the consumers in Delhi getting inflated electricity and water bills is that there are too many electricity and water thieves in Delhi. Domestic connections are used for industrial and commercial activities. The consumer pays for them. The government tries to justify it in the name of cost of production and purchase. Anybody will be ashamed if the names of such thieves are honestly made public. It is a parallel government of the corrupt which has replaced the set up of a “government as by law constituted”. It makes delivery of even the most ordinary public service “impossible”. Those who are calling ‘impossible” the promises made by the AAP, fall in this category. The Congress has unleashed a barrage of media assault by roping in retired bureaucrats and media personalities sounding to look objective, to educate the masses why and how these promises are difficult to fulfill. But this is all pure humbug to confound the gullible people. All these bureaucrats belong to the class of those public servants who did the bidding of their political masters only, without any consideration of the law or their duty to the people. They rose in their respective service through political patronage and have come to believe that nothing can be done in this country about corruption. But the AAP has shown just that_ that it is possible to provide a clean and transparent government. Has it already not succeeded in putting a brake on the Congress and the BJP in nominating their candidates for the elections in Delhi by forcing them not to allow criminal persons to get party ticket for elections? The AAP was wrongly charged of nominating a candidate against whom an FIR (First Information Report with a police station)had been lodged, but it withdrew its candidate after the last day for withdrawal and did not contest from that constituency. The Congress and the BJP were put in very tight corners by such cleanliness drive of the AAP.
The Congress forgot Mahatma Gandhi, who insisted on the purity of means as well as the ends. Its crooked managers thought they will trap Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP by extending unconditional outside support to them for government formation. They wrote to the Lt. Governor of Delhi (LG, Delhi) rather than AAP leaders or Arvind Kejriwal. They thought he will reject the offer and that would help them to manipulate the government in Delhi through the LG. They know the cost of such a blunder, especially in view of the forthcoming elections to the parliament. They can’t, I repeat Can’t, afford to be out of the reckoning in Delhi at the most crucial time of the next Lok Sabha elections in the country. The realization is slowly donning on them. Since yesterday, December 23, 2013 their lingo, tone, tenor and attempts at redefining the expression “unconditional support” have considerably changed. Ms Dixit was the first to fire the salvo when she said that there was no unconditional support. Then she went on to define how it was not “unconditional”. She was followed by the newly appointed President of the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee, who expressed unhappiness at the statements and language of some of the AAP leaders. There was a demonstration also at the DPCC (Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee) office shouting slogans against the AAP and Arvind Kejriwal in less than civilized language that the Congress has started demanding of the AAP leaders. The Congress will increase the pressure on the AAP in the coming days, but is pitted against a formidable enemy, who is not afraid of telling them repeatedly that they don’t bother for anybody’s support and are not obliged to anybody. Their leader Prashant Bhushan has acknowledged that they are not sure how long their government will survive. According to Bhushan it can be a day, a week, a month or 6 months. So the AAP is aware of the pitfalls early or surely after the Lok Sabha elections. The Congress will look for opportunities to discredit the AAP and its leadership and paint it as a failure on all fronts of governance unworthy of the trust reposed in them by the people of Delhi. The AAP will continue to screw the Congress Party by exposing the misdeeds of the past 15 years of Congress rule in Delhi by exposing all the corruption scams. If the AAP government succeeds in exposing fast the dirtiest of corruption scams of the Commonwealth Games (CWG)by the Congress government of Delhi, it will rule Delhi for long and also make stunning success in the Lok Sabha polls in the country. If it succeeds and brings to justice all the culprits and seizes their ill-gotten assets/properties as was done by the Bihar government 2 years ago when it seized the assets of a corrupt IAS officer, it may even walk to the Lok Sabha with a majority in 2014. It is this fear of a total rout and punishment for its corrupt ministers and committed bureaucrats that is hounding the Congress Party. However, it is too late for it to rectify its mistake. They will rue the loss of power in Delhi for long, but handing over power to their sworn enemy Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP forever!
Unless the Congress springs some surprise like the President not accepting the report of the LG and ordering dissolution of the Assembly and fresh elections, the AAP will punish them severely if Arvind Kejriwal is allowed to form the government in Delhi. It is not the might of an individual called Arvind Kejriwal but that of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which strikes terror, for it can change the rules of the political game forever and the results of the next General Elections. The LG may be directed to ask the AAP to get a letter of support from the MLAs before allowing it to form the government. The Congress might even change the text of the letter to the LG in such a fashion that it facilitates the LG to ask the AAP to produce letters of support from the MLAs. There may be any number of clever moves that the Congress might make, for they are the best in such machinations. But the trap they laid for Arvind Kejriwal & the AAP has become a noose around their neck for the time being. The developments of the next few days will be worth watching indeed!