Even as I write this post, Arvind Kejriwal, sitting in some room of the Constitution Club, is being formally elected as the Leader of the Party that will be called on to prove its majority on floor of the House tomorrow to form the government. It is little more than a formality as the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has just won a majority that has probably caused the biggest political upset in the history of independent India. 67/70 is a figure even the most liberal of fiction writers would call “unrealistic”. And yet it has happened. The people of Delhi have decisively, emphatically and unequivocally given their mandate to Arvind Kejriwal.
I am a big supporter of AAP and everything it stands for. In my own small way, I have campaigned for them continuously. When Kejriwal resigned, I supported him. When he went to commit political suicide in Banaras, I stuck with him. Even when my whole extended family was stuffing the ‘Abki Baar Modi Sarkar’ thing in my face during the Lok Sabha elections, I stuck with him. And now he has won in what could only be a dream, and I am over the moon.
But I’m also scared.
In a recent conversation with a friend, I had pointed out to him that supporting a political party doesn’t mean complete, utter, blind acceptance of everything they do. Generating and accepting criticism is the corner-stone of any civilised society. And that’s what I want to do for AAP now.
Arvind Kejriwal has 5 main issues in front of him, and how he and his party tackles those issues will be imperative in deciding the fate of this young party.
5. Fiscal Problems: The AAP has offered a lot of financial relief to the people. Half-rate electricity, free water, free wifi are just a few of those. Definitely it is the government’s duty to make sure that some basic amenities are being provided to needy, but distributing it for free is only a temporary solution. A more permanent solution that involves revised tariffs and long term cost reductions should be the top priority of the government.
4. Sustainability: Continuing from the previous issue, a development model that is sustainable needs to be developed. Optimal points need to be found for income-expenditure of the government. The anti-corruption sentiment at the heart of AAP will play a big role here, for reducing middle-men and bribes will ensure a more efficient use of government spending.
3. Political Repercussions: We have seen it once before how Kejriwal got pulled away onto the national front and thereby losing Delhi. I hope he has the sense this time to hold his ground in Delhi. Other political parties are already ogling this anti-BJP swing as a launching pad for their own states. The astounding victory in the national capital is a gold mine of political capital and as such a very dangerous one. I sincerely hope that Kejriwal will categorically stay away from any other state right now and concentrate everything he has on Delhi. We have to make this one count. The expectation, like the victory margin, is unprecedented.
2. Social Issues: Women safety and women empowerment are big issues in Delhi and must be handled with prudence. But equally important are the Delhi youth in general. AAP’s emergence on the political scene is largely on the shoulders of – as an NDTV reporter put it – the ‘selfie generation’. Like a picture send over Snapchat, this generation’s patience is definitely not their strong suit. With the attention span of a goldfish, we are a bunch of impatient people. The complete overthrow of BJP in just 8 months should ring as warning bells in the offices of AAP. The voters will want over night results, instant appeasement and AAP will need to find a balance between its long term plans and a short term rep sheet.
1. Survival Issues: The Indian politics is a dirty, dirty game. No one who enters it may come out unscathed, As Kejriwal himself has said ‘hume is keechad ko saaf karne ke liye khud keechad mein utarna padega’ (We will have get into the mud/mess ourselves if we are to clean it). And that’s where the danger lies: you have just entered the mud but your opponents have been born and brought up in it. And you have just made a very very dangerous enemy of an incredibly well funded Lotus that literally grows in mud – pun intended.
Whether or not you recognise the BJP as a Leader of Opposition, Amit Shah doesn’t look like a man who will take this humiliation lying down. He is only wounded, not out. He will strike and strike hard, and you would be well off anticipating it. Go watch The Mountain and The Viper’s fight if you want to know what I mean.
In my humble opinion, the solutions to most these problems is good governance. Stray away from the lure of power, stay humble, and concentrate on bettering the lives of those who have put their trust in you. You are on the brink of writing history, I would rather see it written in golden ink than black.
And if Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘acceptance speech’ today is anything to go by, I think we are in good hands. And we would do well to heed him.
Image 1 courtesy: http://goo.gl/juQD37
Image 2 courtesy: http://goo.gl/ILrzfa