Monday, 17 February 2014

What AAP could have done differently

AAP unexpectedly got 28 seats in the Delhi MLA elections 2013. Though it contested on primarily an anti-corruption platform, the election manifesto was full of populist promises as well. A combination of both of it, combined with the enthusiasm of young generation propelled it as the second largest party. As its ascendency was coupled with lot of hype, the largest party, BJP, deemed it prudent to give AAP a chance to form a government, and show how an efficient and honest government ought to run. But sadly, and to the disappointment of its supporters and opponenets alike, it failed to live up to its promise, and visibly ran away from the challenge of a meaningful government. As suggested by my friend, I would like to point out how AAP could have provided a better government for all the people who had deposed their faith in it.

What AAP could have done differently:
First of all, governance is not a 100m sprint, it is a marathon. There are no shortcuts here, and a good vision needs sufficient time to implement. That AAP chose to quit so early points to nothing but a lack of vision. Yet, even in such a short span, there are some things which could have been done differently to set an example.
a)  Holding of Janta Durbar: AAP had promised regular janta durbar. Its first darbar saw enthusiastic participation, but that led to Kejriwal running away from there, promising a subsequent date, but only to announce two days later that no more janta durbar would be held at all !! This episode could have been handled in a much better way. Kejriwal should have made it a point to hold at least one efficient Janta durbar after the failure of the first one to set an encouraging example. This was the basic minimum which was expected of him, and to me, it is one of biggest disappointment.

b) Cleaning of Yamuna: Delhi has become notorious with the stench of one of India's historical symbols: Yamuna river. Sheila Dixit promised but did not give a damn on this issue. Spontaneously taking a resolve and initiating the work towards cleaning of Yamuna would have been a very positive and meaningful action. But not being a populist measure, it did not figure anywhere on the to-do list of AAP.

c)  Introducing a work culture of efficiency and punctuality: India is notorious for its laziness and not sticking to office timings. It is as much a part of corruption, as much is taking bribe. From the day AAP came into office, it could have tried to send a message of sticking to disciplined timings, and efficient work. That is the key to the corporate governance of India's ailing public sector. Emphasizing this would not have cost a dime, and such public conduct would win the hearts of one and all.

d) Announcing to make Delhi an entrepreneurship hub: If Bangalore can be an IT hub, if Gujarat can be Milk hub, why cannot Delhi be an enterpreneurhip hub? Kejriwal could have done some announcements to give special incentives to young graduates for supporting entrepreneurship. That would have dispelled all the negative doubts about its economic vision. But it was too bogged down with populist promises.

e) FIR against Sheila: You have a 370 page "proof" against Sheila in numerous cases, and in the end you don't have even an FIR against her in 50 days! Whom is AAP trying to fool?

These are just a few examples which came in my mind. If a party is ready to be in power, and supposedly has a vision, it should have 100s of such things in mind.

What AAP should not have done:
This list is long, and I would keep it short, and would not put much comments for it:
a) Announcing electricity dues exemption only for the people who had given in to the call of AAP for not submitting electricity bill: Without exception, it is extremely despicable, corrupt and divisive move. This would anyway have been challenged in the court, and party would have had to apologize in the end. But AAP tried to do it is itself extremely dangerous as a precedent.

b) Protecting Somnath Bharati to any extent: The list of antics of Bharati is long, and a prominent founding member of AAP resigned from the party as Bharati was untouched for his actions. For a party which demands the resignation of others over accusations, it was blatant double standards. For a party which seeks to set the bar higher, it has to adhere to its own principles.

Why AAP ran away in this manner:
Three principle reasons in short:

a) It had not expected coming in the power in the first place, and thus its manifesto was full of populism. Being in power, and not being able to fulfil those promises was exposing it everyday, and AAP chose to became a martyr instead.

b) Feeling the heat due to media scrunity of its accountability: Apart from the manifesto, the actions of its members like Bharati, Binny were attracting lots of negative press, and its image was taking a beating. AAP decided to quit to stop the erosion of this public goodwill, if you don't perform. It feared perishing to the hopes it had generated.

c) Lure of Loksabha: This was the most important reason for its quitting power. Having the responsibility to govern chained AAP to delhi, while it was looking forward to assuiming more power in central elections. It decide to ditch delhi government, only to garner more votes in center. But what for??? To stop Modi.

Many people had predicted before the Delhi polls, that AAP would eventually have a coalition with congress. That proved true after sometimes, when AAP tried to fool the people by an "SMS Poll". This time also, it is quite evident that it would be happy to take outside support of congress, but would never take or give support to BJP. And that would lead to the backdoor entry of congress again. Precisely why Sheila Dixit was not chargsheeted in Delhi.

Some questions raised by "quitting power" by AAP in Delhi:
1. AAP wants majority government in Delhi, as it says a coalition makes it difficult to take decisions. Doesn't the same hold true in center? BJP with its pan-India presence and under able leadership of Modi is in a position to deliver it. So AAP itself is giving best arguments to support Namo. Why it is hypocritically opposing BJP then? Lure of power?

2. In a post poll scenario, whom would AAP support? Third front or Congress? Which of these two is better for the country.

3. Why Kejriwal is not at all interested in governing and providing good administration to Delhi any more? What about his promise to Delhi people, and why this hurry for Loksabha?

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