Sunday, March 08, 2015

AAP churning: Lack of internal democracy, leadership style, lack of ideology were symptoms of larger issues

By Joe Athialy*
Is the internal churning within the Aaam Aadmi Party (AAP) inadvertently opening up an opportunity for a more egalitarian nationwide political process? The nearly two year process of AAP played a very important role in the recent history of Indian politics. It challenged and succeeded to a great extend both Congress and BJP in their own turf; from a dirty word, politics has become common people's concern and they were made to feel a part of it; it challenged the cynical perception that nothing can change in this country.
It brought in idealism, innovation and freshness in political campaigns and caught Congress and BJP on wrong foot more often on their wrong policies, nexus with corporations, corruption and lack of transparency. Finally it stopped the juggernaut of BJP's winning streak, something which looked very difficult a few months back.
AAP was also plagued with a lot of shortcomings. Absence of a vision of governance and development beyond ending corruption was among them. A radical political change with the issues of adivasis, dalits, women, religious minorities and other marginalised in its core was never in its agenda.
Lack of internal democracy, leadership style, lack of ideology etc were probably symptoms of larger issues. Like in naturopathy, without treating the root cause of symptoms, treating symptoms alone never brings cure.
Despite all these, a lot of people supported AAP because in the current political environment there isn't any party who could challenge the Congress and the onslaught of BJP.
Importantly, AAP had the right kind of people, some of whom where in PAC, while some were Lok Sabha election candidates, who could make AAP a potentially formidable political force. Over the past many months, one is seeing that they are either marginalised within the party or they are removed from responsible positions.
It is in this context that what had happened recently in AAP which manifested for the timebeing in the form of ousting Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan throws open an opportunity for a more egalitarian and inclusive political process aiming to contest elections at appropriate time.
Since AAP's vision is not to expand outside Delhi, and majority of people engaged with AAP from outside Delhi have year's of work behind them raising issues of land, forests, water, dalits, gender inequality, tribal rights, it would only be natural for this new political process to address the key issues of development paradigm, patriarchy, class and caste issues, marginalisation and others.
This is not in competition with AAP. Leave Delhi to them. There is a larger constituency outside Delhi. Any new political process should invest in a long term vision and plan rather than looking for quick results. Any new political process necessarily need not have to be without failings.
Alternative political process would only emerge through experiments. We have learnt from many non party processes the country has seen since independence, we learnt lessons from JP movement and we had many lessons to learn from AAP. These learnings would help in any future efforts.
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*Senior activist

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