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The Ten Messages from the Victory of AAP in Delhi

Delhi Election Result: Dream Victory for Arvind Kejriwal's AAP, BJP Flattened

Arvind means ‘Lotus’ (Kamal) in Hindi. But, the BJP which proudly flashes lotus as its symbol, couldn’t imagine in its worst dreams that one day another ‘lotus’, called Kejriwal – long ridiculed and written off – would totter on the way of its proud victory march and blow away its whole rank and file like a hidden landmine. A new ‘lotus’ is born in Delhi through a historic mandate that would probably never be beaten in times to come. The victory of Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party is stunning, spectacular and full of messages.

The first message is that no one is a spent force in Indian politics. The only thing that matters is the capacity to hang on and to keep slogging one’s way through all adversities. The one who has vision and perseverance to implement his vision would see through the hardship to emerge victorious some day or other. Hence, in politics, just hang in the middle and leverage your opportunities judiciously to be the winner on your day. Arvind Kejriwal, once discredited and ruled out of the fray, proved that decisively. Mind, no one is out of the race – neither Congress nor Lalu, not even the Communists. They’re just biding time to rise from their ashes which one day, they will.

The second message is that key to political success is the ability of a politician to reach to the people in their own alleys. The Aam Aadmi Party had a people-centric vision and they planned things to implement that vision. While the opposition BJP – riding high on people’s mandate and money-power – made all sorts of noises about the ‘promised’ development on the television and social media, the AAP volunteers huddled back to the drawing board, drew a robust plan and went to the deepest alleys in the remotest corners of Delhi to reach to the last man from the marginalized section of society convincing them that they were their last hope. The people believed them because they found them well-intentioned, honest and approachable as opposed to the traditional politicians cut off from the masses and the ground realities. Tea with ‘Barrack’ is definitely important but no less important is to continue tea parties with people as well in the way Modi had been doing during the Lok Sabha hustings.

The third message is that while living in this world, you can’t hope to survive by living on the ‘digital continent’ rather you need to come down to face the people in flesh and blood. In today’s world, social media is a wonderful way of connecting to the people but in no way it’s a substitute of a face-to-face contact. Those who think that the social media and radio contacts would keep them well-connected with masses need a serious re-think on their strategy. Had it been truth, the BJP, with its highest presence in social media, wouldn’t have been beaten so badly in the highly urbanized constituency of Delhi with a cosmopolitan outlook. Hence, the message is – don’t shy; be among the masses to wipe their tears, something that only a hand can do and not a Smartphone.

The fourth message is that the public can’t be fooled long with empty sloganeering and political symbolism. They’re fed up of talks of development, growth, progress and results. They’re ready to wait; they’re prepared to give you time. But, don’t fool. Show honest intentions. Slogan mongering is good for entertaining the audience but they can’t necessarily fetch votes. To win votes you need to win people’s faith which requires honest efforts and plausible outcomes. Hence, the message is – If you promise, deliver; if you say, fulfill; if you commit, enact or else be ready to be swept out of your ivory tower of illusion.

The fifth message is that never trample the ambition and wishes of your grassroot workers. The politicians feel that they carry the goodwill of people. But, that goodwill emanates from the abilities of their grassroot workers, who keep trudging the lanes and by-lanes of hinterlands over years building up the aura around their leaders’ persona and generating goodwill. But, the leaders sitting pretty comfortable on this goodwill forget the importance and relevance of such grassroot workers and insulate themselves from the latter’s voices. Thus, they take arbitrary decisions overlooking their collective interests. The same happened in BJP, which parachuted an outsider in Kiran Bedi into CM’s position, totally overlooking the wishes of its grassroot level workers who had been working since decades in the party. The result was general dissension among the cadre leading to a considerable dent on their enthusiasm. Hence, the message is – abuse abundantly, but respects your men when they ask for it.

The sixth message is that the masses are kind; they forgive your blunders if you approach them with folded hands admitting your mistakes and repenting them over and over again. The same happened with Indira Gandhi after emergency in 1980 and the same happened with Kejriwal now. He bowed his head in repentance and in absolute subservience to people’s judgment. The public conceded the mistakes of Arvind Kejriwal and rewarded him with a handsome second-term. Hence, when make mistakes, admit instead of offering irritating justifications.

The seventh message is that the people, when silent, are most decisive. In democracy, politics is the last refuge of people; if you play politics with them, they will play politics with you. Hence, politicians! Beware of people’s mood and work for collective interest. Time and again, people have expressed their verdict in a decisive manner. Hence, don’t mess up with people mood. When they make up their mind, they punish decisively.

The eighth message is that the marginalized poors, the social underdog and the have-nots are a dominant force in Indian democracy and time and again they’ve proved that when given a free and fair opportunity to exercise their mandate, they speak up with their votes. This constituency, which lied orphaned after the sad demise of the Indian left after the 2009 general elections, was a big constituency to cater to. The AAP has stepped into the void and seized the electorate.

The ninth message is that a strong state, having a formidable mandate of the people will have a better bargaining power with a strong centre. Hence, it will result into the era of a better-run co-operative federalism with a new hope for development.

The tenth and the most important message is that a strong opposition sitting in Delhi is good for the politics as it will act as a constant spectre of defeat in the visions of the central government resulting in curtailment of autocratic tendencies in the leaders. The aura of invincibility around any politician is not a good sign for democracy. The constant fear of people’s whim will be the driving force behind performance. Moreover, periodic defeats are necessary for political parties for much needed course corrections as well as for removal of complacency from their word-views, which creeps in eventually.

Krishna Kumar@ThoughtPourri 2015

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THOSE WHO LIVE BY THE MEDIA DIE BY THE MEDIA

There is an old biblical dictum that says those who live by the sword die by the sword. This dictum finds its resonance in the Aam Aadami Party’s political journey so far which has been, to a large extent, created and nourished by the puissant media power. The media has created, sustained and heightened the euphoria over the curious phenomenon of AAP, which has managed to acquire an envious place of dominance in Indian democracy. But, this act of media need not be taken for granted.

Media makes heroes and creates haloes around them. In doing so media goes over the top; it blows each positive trait of the person out of proportion and cries up each single fact about them worth a mention. The 24×7 odes of praise combined with the visual availability of the man across the whole gamut of electronic and print media gives celebrity status to the person and thus the contours of a hero emerges. Both the media and its new-found celebrity enjoy the situation for some time before the media gets bored. As long there is novelty around the person and his ideas, media remains interested in him but the moment the novelty wears off the media gets restless. Now it requires some new heroes who could inject some cool air of freshness in the situation. Thus, media ditches its hero and cries him down. It no longer finds him saleable.

Maybe, the media-born celebrity in Arvind Kejriwal, too, realizes this situation well and hence, he is trying hard to inject some freshness in the affairs of his Aam Aadmi Party to keep the interest of media alive in him. This goes to explain the rhetoric and the theatrics that the party has of late taken recourse to which was well visible in its 2-day’s dharna at the Rail Bhawan in New Delhi. However, such theatrics are not going to yield favourable results for the AAP and the causes it espouses. Rather, it is sure to erode the confidence of a sizable number of the middle class voters, a majority of who had voted for the party in the Delhi elections. The middle class got appalled to hear his defiant chants of ‘anarchism’ and felt alienated at his actions which bordered upon lawlessness. This surely isn’t going to cut ice with a majority of his progressive voters, who put premium on means in equal proportions to the goals they cherish; a majority of them felt that that the goal of this dharna might be noble and sacred but the methods employed by the AAP leaders failed to find resonance with their world-view.

Similarly, the actions of the Delhi’s Law Minister, Mr. Somnath Bharti, leaves much to be desired. His high-drama mob-raids on unsuspecting foreign nationals and his mouthful of expletives against his seasoned political opponents are in poor taste which is sure to horrify the electorate. The AAP has got many lessons to learn in it. The party has come to power riding the wave of anger of the common man against the system. Now, its cadres feel empowered. The same cadre that once felt disillusioned with the system now feels emboldened to take on the system through its own methods. The party cadres are impatient with the system and hence not willing to let the system act in legally established ways; rather they feel the urge to set things right in their own whimsical ways. Thus, they are willing to raid the premises of vulnerable individuals riding on the zeal of their brute mob power. The party may score brownie points with segments of lower disillusioned masses of the state but at the same time runs the risk of turning its cadres into the likes of those fascist ‘black shirts’ or the ‘storm troops’ of Nazi Germany. Such mobocracy must stop. This is a dangerous temptation against which the party think tanks need to work overtime to guard its cadres.

The whole affair of Somnath Bharti is a blot on AAP’s escutcheon; the sooner the man is removed from the position the better for Arvind Kejriwal and his party. The minister has been indicted by the court on the charges of tampering with evidences but Mr. Kejriwal is standing rock-solid behind him cocking a snook at the court’s findings, which the latter finds wrong. Now, he’s sitting in judgment. This way, isn’t Kejriwal closing ranks with politicians of other political parties like the Congress or the BJP, who give similar pleas while refusing to remove their ministers accused of similar malpractices or indictments by the courts? So, where is the difference, Mr. Kejriwal? You refused to accept the pleas of pending enquiries in case of congress or BJP ministers but you’re running extra miles to protect your own minister stuck-up in similar circumstance. How can there be different yardsticks for similar situations?

People have lots of hopes and expectations pinned to the great experiment of the Aam Aadmi Party. The great Indian middle class has many cherished goals like good job, good espouse, good cars, good education for children, good house and good quality life. To this kitty of celebrated goals, it has further added the goal of having good governance and a corruption-free political order, by putting strong stakes in the AAP experiment. After having jumped the bandwagon of the AAP, some of those middle class electorates are feeling disillusioned. Hence, it is high time now that Kejriwal should speak by his actions. He needs to get into the teeth of governance and perform to give back some of those skies that he’s promised to the electorates of Delhi.

Governance is not all beer and skittles – it’s a difficult job, much more than the job of an activist. Hence, Mr. Kejriwwal, you need to get into the shoes of a Chief Minister now and act out of there. Well, take all those perks and privileges that your position offers; the middle class and those underdogs of your constituency won’t mind. But, get into action; get into governance and give your damnedest. The restless masses want performance. So long you deliver on those promises they give a damn about other things like your perks. Hence, no rhetorics, no theatrics – just deliver. Stop playing to the galleries to please those who don’t matter. Forget those hawks of media. They will sing praise in countertenors and sopranos once you deliver on those promises. Else, the media would maul you; it’s extra zealous in denouncing its jettisoned heroes and in debunking the aura around them.

Therefore, Mr. Kejriwal – don’t run the risk of dying by the media.

Krishna Kumar @ Thought Pourri 2014

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