Disclaimer : The only motive of this note on Arvind Kejrival and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is to point out the scope for improvement and is by no means derogatory. The views expressed in this blog are of a neutral and impartial Indian citizen, with no political party affiliations or membership. The author is an ordinary but vigilant voter who is politically and socially active (who physically votes in the polling booth and not just in social-media-like-share-hate-speech-democracy!). Thanks!
Arvind Kejriwal and AAP: The Background
Arvind Kejriwal and AAP created a wave; a hype that even eclipsed Narendra Modi’s rise as national leader. India had seen rule by the Congress and BJP at the national level and numerous regional parties at the state level. Congress, though a major party right from Indian freedom Struggle is now struggling to regain its mass appeal after a series of corruption allegations. BJP, the main opposition party does not appear as a viable alternative to moderate Indians due to the communal and Hindutva tag associated. Modi, the Prime Ministerial candidate had called himself a ‘Hindu Nationalist’ and not an ‘Indian Nationalist’. There were no regional parties with promising ideologies to make a difference at the national level. It is at this time the split in India Against Corruption Movement gave birth to a political party – Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
There were many who considered AAP as the last option to see a changed India, as often claimed by Arvind Kejriwal – a new India, clean and free from corruption, nepotism, colonial mentality, poverty and so on. AAP is neither corrupt nor communal (only time can test it!). Many counted Arvind Kejriwal as their messiah. Arvind Kejriwal, an IIT grad and ex-IRS bureaucrat, is without doubt a promising leader and is keenly watched by whole India. But is he, the visionary, India was waiting for? Though it may be pre-mature to make a complete statement on AAP government, there are still a few points worth mentioning.
1 : No economic vision yet!
It is surprising for me that Arvind Kejriwal still has not revealed his economic vision for India. Apart from preventing corruption, AAP does not seem to have any other agenda for India. What is AAP’s vision to make India rich and developed? What are the plans of AAP to promote growth in agriculture, industry and service sectors? Are they encouraging investment, either indian or foreign ? What are the plans for Infrastructure development? What is the vision for development in social sectors – health, education, employment etc?
2 : Negative votes! Not Positive Votes!
#AAP cashed more votes by the negative sentiments than by the positive sentiments. People were fed up by the scams and allegations of corruption of almost all parties including the two national parties – INC and BJP. Ordinary citizens were looking for a viable alternative, when AAP filled that space. Negative sentiments against the ruling party is common in politics. But only time can tell if people will get positive votes for AAP, for it policy decisions and administrative efficiency.
3 : Red beacons or their removal are not the main problem of India
Will it matter for the poor and hungry, the red beacons in the cars of bureaucrats and ministers? Removal or inclusion of red beacons has no direct correlation with hunger and poverty. Yes, red beacons are sign of colonial mentality and to make ordinary citizens realize the people-power these steps can be taken. But apart from this symbolic relation, is there any other significance to this gesture? It is strange that these acts finds mention in AAP manifesto. What the people of India need is visionary policies for growth and development.
4 : Immature demands
AAP made 18 demands to accept support of INC. Many of these demands were purely political and populist. Most of them were administrative decisions and some were to be decided by Centre/ Parliament. None spoke about the economic vision for India.
5 : Democracy works on majority. But pleasing all people by populist measures will kill it!
#Arvind Kejriwal over-tried democracy. He made many attempts to replicate direct democracy. A welcome move, but the cancelled Janata Durbar speaks a lot about its future and practical difficulties. Another point to make is that in democracy if the majority is wrong, the system will fail. In that case only a visionary leader can save India. If Kejriwal or AAP looks for people’s choices every time for each any every decisions, populist decisions will definitely creep in and that will not be good for Indian economy in long run.
6 : Any government can cut subsidies! No big deal in it!
Kejriwal promised reduction in electricity and water bills. Good. But why did Kejriwal tried the short cut route of subsidies? That does not require an Arvind Kejriwal in CM’s chair. Subsidies are tax payers money itself and that’s a political gimmick. Arvind Kejriwal should have walked his talk of preventing corruption and using that corrupted money to reduce electricity or water bills. Any populist government can give subsidies. It will only add to India’s fiscal deficit and ruin India’s economic backbone.
7 : Arvind Kejriwal and the split with IAC
AAP didn’t chose BJP support for forming government in Delhi, probably not wanting to attach a communal label to it. But other mains leaders of IAC – Baba Ramdev and Kiran Bedi has reveled their political choices (Ramdev joined BJP and Kiran Bedi favored BJP candidate NaMo). There are also open differences between Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. An article from Hindu titled “Understanding Arvind Kejriwal” speaks another side of the story.
8 : Reversal of FDI : Wrong Signal to Foreign Investors
India needs FDI for future growth and development. There are no doubts in that. As pointed out by Narayana Murthi of Infosys, India needs around 1 trillion-dollar investment for double-digit growth and employment generation. That investment can come only from foreign investors. FDI in multi-brand retail may be a debatable issue, but not worth of sudden reversal. It will send wrong signal to foreign investors.
9 : Who all are the Aam Aadmi?
The term Aam Aadmi if corresponds to ordinary citizen, then who all are the extra-ordinary citizens? The rich? The business magnets? Industrialists? Politicians? Or Bureaucrats? What do you call the poor and poorest of the poor then? Do they come under Aam Aadmi? Is the term Aam Aadmi inclusive of all Indians? AAP if represents all Indians, should not exclude the just demands of any sections – rich or poor. Being rich is not a crime, if wealth is accumulated by fair means.
10 : Think beyond corruption
AAP, being an offshoot of anti-corruption movement is still revolving around anti-corruption crusades. India badly needs to stop corruption, but anti-corruption is just one of the wings of an efficient government, not the sole one. It’s high time that AAP and Kejriwal realise the same. Anti- corruption help line is a welcome move, but if AAP fail to work on governance and development aspects, the AAP will end as a one time phenomenon.
Arvind Kejriwal : Please Don’t Disappoint!
In my opinion the most notable contribution of Arvind Kejriwal is to realise the Aam Admi, the People’s Power: the power of ordinary citizens. He made ordinary citizens aware about their rights and showed us that a single person can change the political history of a state.
What India expects from Kejriwal is visionary policies. He should be near to common man’s problems. Making impractical statements and changing stands which are typical of any politician is not expected from him. Expectation from him are high. Arvind Kejriwal, please don’t disappoint Aam Aadmi!