You too Brutus, sounds Cat calls
Kejri’s Doubtful Credentials?
Come clean Kejri, Good-by to ominous silence, make up with towering founding members, nay invite them into inner circle to listen humbly, learn diligently, disagree agreeably, graciously, to concentrate constructively on governance, turning promises into performance for the arrival of Ache Din in Delhi.
Dr. james kottoor
You too Kejri, (paraphrasing Tu quoque Brute)? You too Brutus, seem to be the humming song, in subdued tone, in everyone’s lips both inside and outside AAP, the new party with a difference. Should what goes up like a rocket necessarily come down and crash land like a shooting star spreading death, destruction and dismay? It seems a strange logic?
Critics, time servers, enemies, deserters, turn coats, political parties envious of the new warrior in shining armour after Delhi Victory – aren’t they all united in making a mountain of many a mole hill in AAP? How serious are alleged factionalism, deep rooted fissures in the party, power struggle, lack of internal democracy or too much of it, one man (Kejri) dictatorial rule, throwing out think-tank founding stalwarts, sting operations, planting stories to malign, transparency culminating in washing dirty linen in public? Amidst all this cacophony, there stands the spectre of an eloquent but ominous silence and grim face of the one man who counts most – Kejriwal? Why?
Of course he was tucked away for a fortnight in emergency treatment for perpetual cough, blood sugar at 300 reportedly and other allied pestering problems. Besides all these happenings can also be brushed aside as teething problems of a nascent party trying to stand on its feet. But now the Delhi CM is back on his driving seat his admirers and critics have much to expect. What are their main expectations?
Expectations from Kejriwal
As far as Arvind is concerned, first in the wish list is proof beyond all doubt his capacity to work with his arch critiques, the triumvir: Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav and Santhibhushan. Santhibushan was the first to go public with his “Master Stroke” comment about Kiran Bedi against Kejri. He changed his mind and recently asked the other two to work with Kejri who emerged as the unquestionable leader in the party. But how can there be much truth about stories about Bhushan and Yadav working to get AAP defeated in Delhi? After all was it not Yadav who predicted more than 50 seats for AAP? How could he be working for defeat and predicting a stunning victory? Yes Prashanth was mostly silent during the Delhi Campaign. But now he is the first to make a move to meet Kejri to settle differences and misunderstandings.
That the two were ousted from the PAC was both good and bad news. Good because it was done through democratic vote taking, which is not done in other parties. They usually settle differences through the smoke screen called “consensus” an alibi for the “Master’s Voice”. Bad news, only if the stories circulated is true. The story is that the ousting was done at the silent behest of the sick CM allegedly cut off from public contact last two weeks in Bangalore.
If proved true, it will ever remain an irreparable black mark on Kejri’s much talked about claim for democratic leadership style. This indeed is the biggest danger for him, just after a resounding Delhi victory comparable only to Mody’s landslide in the parliament, namely not to have outspoken, well-meaning critics both in the cabinet and in Political Affairs Committee (PAC), the top decision making forum. He should therefore, to my mind, find a way to reconstitute the PAC to bring in these founding members, no matter how critical they are, and to show the courtesy to listen to their differing views on various issues. That is what freedom of speech, transparency, disagreeing in an agreeable way and democracy are all about.
AAP Rating Sliding fast?
I for one am a votary of Voltaire who said about his critics: ‘I would go to death to defend your right to say or shout out your conviction, even when I may not agree one bit with what you say’. Besides, this triumvir is considered to be the think-tank of the party. This is not to say that I have no disagreements with the triumvir and even with Kejri. I have and expressed them. Until that is done the popular rating of Kejriwal is bound to be sliding fast, very fast indeed.
This is already quite apparent – again for good and bad reasons – from the slide in the free flowing donations to AAP in the last couple of weeks. After the spectacular Delhi poll results the party used to mop up as much as Rs 36 lakh a day on line, according to reports. But in the last three weeks online donations have plummeted down to a few thousands a day. Especially after expulsion of the two stalwarts, collections dipped to as low as Rs 6,031 a day reportedly, which is a clear indication of sharp slide in popular credibility in the party.
One post for one man is an ideal principle to follow. But in the midst of the euphoria of Delhi victory is it not wise to keep Kejri also as the convenor of the party till things get normalised? Besides Kejri after all is not too eager to keep that post either and he had already expressed his desire to resign as the convenor since his hands are too full with the work as Delhi CM. If opinions are still divided let this also be decided by voting as the founding duo was ousted earlier. Let democratic norms be liberally used to show there is internal democracy in AAP, unlike in other parties.
Female Faces & 70 Promises
Closely related to image building is the urgent need to bring in capable female faces in the council of ministers, especially since Delhi has become notorious as the most unsafe city for women. In addition it has to move fast implementing the 70 manifesto promises it had made to the people of Delhi. He has already acted on cheap water, electricity for the poor, so also ruled out demolition of slum clusters and displacing road side vendors.
AAP’s first priority is to show the public that it is a party of good governance for five years, not for 49 days any more, with its brute majority of 67 out of 70 seats. It has to be different from Modi Sarkar which is still sitting over its Ache Din promises, and which jettisoned Kejri as a small city-leader in an interview. Politics after all is all about people, about public good, the greatest good for the greatest number, but starting, not with the corporate, the well-to-do, or middle class, but precisely with the last, lest and lost in society, “to wipe out every tear from every face” in Delhi. That means AAP’s service of the poorest of the poor must come first, to make its governance from the very bottom up not top down.
Delhi Dialogue type Mass Contact
All political parties vie with one another to exhibit; nay make an eye popping display of cheerful service mindedness to the needy during election time to garner votes. But once elected, they instantly start exhibiting their true colour, their VVIP culture and cut off all easy contact, camaraderie, bonhomie with the aam aadmi, the ordinary people. This should never happen in the AAP. It is here that the Delhi Dialogue type of constant contact and consultation with the people on the ground assumes great importance. The party should not enslave itself to rigid ideologies and worn out political philosophies and shibboleths of the right, left or middle, like other sterile parties. Instead AAP should be people’s crying need of the moment centric, which per force will keep the kettle of constant dialogue with the masses rumbling all the time. That alone will assure it of mass support all the time.
Another feature of the party has been its volunteer base at the grass root level. Volunteers come thick and fast like bees where there is honey. The honey the party should provide is practical measures to provide a corruption free government. Reportedly there were some 60 public grievance call lines and corruption help lines installed during AAP’s first inning. These lines could be made more vibrant, robust and multiplied to make the public partners in wiping out corruption. After all that is what the general public is most concerned about and also what made Anna Hazare’s anticorruption campaign most popular. This voluntarism should be extended from grass root to high decision making levels of non-elected consultants. A great number of honest experts in various professional fields do not venture into politics for fear of getting tainted. AAP should find a way to make use of their willing services through voluntarism, not for a fat pay cheque. There would be no dearth of such volunteers, as long as they are respectfully invited, listened to and their valuable suggestions accepted and acted upon. US President Kennedy was noted for his propensity to surround himself with such elites from society.
Suggestions on Wi-Fi in Delhi
A case in point is the suggestions sought for free Wi-Fi plan in Delhi. What is the relevance of Wi-Fi for slum dwellers, one may ask. But the fact is that the young generation of today are driven by ideas and ideals spread fast through internet, facebook, twitter etc. The internet gives wings to news to reach the four corners of the globe instantly while it takes hours and days to appear in print. In fact ideas are already acted upon before they are spread trough the press
Once bitten twice shy. That may have been the reason why Kejri was point blank in asserting he would now concentrate on Delhi only. It could have come in the aftermath of his bitter defeat in the Lok Sabha elections where he contested in 400 seats and got only a paltry two victories in Panjab. That was the result of biting off much more than what AAP could chew. Equally one should respect the principle: It is the mark of wisdom to change one’s views. Good opportunities don’t come just for the asking. One should pounce on them when they fly past. Even so AAP should be ever ready to fan out to places where opportunities are ripe as the whole of India is looking up to AAP as a refreshing alternative to the rest of worn out traditional parties.
But first things first and that is to accept the principle that a house divided against itself cannot stand. At least in public perception, AAP today is going to pieces due to its politics of public spat, internal bickering, parading most ugly power struggle and washing dirty linen in public. True dirty linen must be washed clean, in private or public. If the linen is stinking too much to suffocate bystanders, it is better to do it in private to prevent doing too much harm to the public. Responsibility for this rests squarely on Arvind Kejriwal alone. Now that he is back in Delhi, hale and happy, there is no excuse for not doing it fast. I have been writing from 2011 that India needs not just one but a battalion of Kejriwals to rid India of its endemic corruption and political arrogance borne out of the VVIPism of parliamentarians once they manage to get elected by hook or crook – most often by crook. I fondly hope that I will not have to think otherwise now!
Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org