Politics is believed to be an ‘art’ and all political parties propagate, project and execute their ideas and programmes in their own style. The role of leadership in anchoring the artistic presentation is critical for achieving the ‘best possible’. If you are functioning in a democratic society, that best possible has to be carved out in the prevalent political milieu. Otherwise, you need a revolution to overthrow the existing system.
The emergence of Aam Aadmi Party on India’s political scene, many believed, was a dramatic departure from the existing political culture. After its brief political stint in Delhi in 2013 and then its political face contesting from Banaras, many started arguing that AAP is turning out to be like any other political party. But AAP’s comeback in the national capital with thumping majority and the aftermath shows the other way round. The script, drama and presentation of this loose political formation are proving to be sensational but foreign to be part of India’s democratic culture.
AAP built its reputation by challenging the constitutional bodies. Lokpal was the party’s main political plank while launching the new outfit. Somehow that plank is completely missing in the comeback innings. Political parties making compromises while contesting for power position is not new in Indian politics, but the way AAP has thwarted its core plank even before acquiring the power is unprecedented. Trashing its very own internal Lokpal when the questions were raised about the ‘honest’ leadership is indefensible. Above all, party claiming to be representative of the ‘Common Man’ quickly adopted the VIP culture by appointing as many as 21 parliamentary secretaries to keep the party MLAs in one fold. While doing so, AAP is still successfully maintaining its ‘Common Man’ posturing intact is remarkable.
Political factionalism and feud has been a common feature of India’s party system. Every other party has faced some or the other kind of dissension or division. While doing so they always kept the option of dialogue open. Even friends turned foe Lalu Prasad Yadav and Nitish Kumar also maintained scope for reconciliation and are now trying to develop a united front. What has happened in case of AAP is unheard of in Indian polity where political factions without any ideological differences are threatening each other. AAP has become a new epitome of lack of ideological percept and personality based factionalism in Indian politics.
The kind of entertainment value AAP has added to Indian politics is again unique. With 24X7 media glare, the anarchist formation used every space to catch attention. Some dramatics, either in the form of sloganeering or leadership gimmicks are always used in electoral politics. From Garibi Hatao to Acche Din are catchy words that touch the cords of common voters. But what AAP has done in the name of farmers’ rally is touching lowest level of politics. In another attempt of embarrassing the Centre, AAP tried to create a drama which turned out to be a tragedy. For catching the public attention through media, instigating some supposed to be farmer to enact a suicide attempt and the person actually losing his life is dirty politics, which should be discarded outright.
The problem of Indian agriculture is systemic and cannot be linked merely to other land development policies. India’s agricultural land is overburdened and was never boosted through innovation and investment. The socialist pattern of philosophy of poverty started by the Congress and now dramatised by AAP can only derail the real development in agricultural sector. Through such attempt, AAP can only add entertainment value to politics but cannot make any substantial change. Hope the party that emerged from the basic foundation of morality takes right lessons from the ‘farmer suicide’ tragedy. Otherwise, though the party can still continue be a unique party (as they have proved), soon it will lose its base and become irrelevant.