01 December 2013

Khaas Aadmi Party

The AAP's bluff of representing the ordinary citizen must be called. In time

Arvind Kejriwal and other prominent faces of the Jan Lokpal (JLP) movement that caught the imagination of the nation in 2011 did the right thing in July-August 2012 by deciding to launch a political party of their own. First, under the present system, whatever laws a group of activists thinks the people of the country need can be made only by getting into the legislature. Second, the mistake of the Jayaprakash Narayan-led movement of the 1970s could not be repeated; those who led the movement should not have passed on the baton to older politicians.

Political observers, however, began raising some valid questions right after the announcement of the intention. How could a band of people, howsoever well-meaning, who had a single-point agenda of getting rid of corruption by instituting an all-powerful lokpal (ombudsman), and who were apparently ignorant of other facets of governance, run a party that needed to have a say in all matters of the state? Kejriwal & Co must have been aware of this intellectual limitation of the band. So, eminent psephologist and member of a little known Samajwadi Jan Parishad (SJP) Yogendra Yadav, who was watching the proceedings of the movement from the sidelines, made a lateral entry into the group.


In the desperation to fill the policy void of the group, Kejriwal ignored the paradox that Yadav's ideas were quite antithetical to the general sentiment of the kind of people who had poured into the streets responding to the appeal of the mascot of the JLP movement, a simpleton, likeable Anna (Kisan Baburao) Hazare. Their class was middle to upper middle. They loved the good salaries they got from the corporate sector. Or they were leading comfortable lives as students under parents who were affluent enough to keep them unbothered about finances till they finished their years in formal education. A pinch of conscience that they had done little for the country made them take short leaves from offices and universities to raise the demand for a cleaner state: a state that would continue to allow money to flow, but where transparency and accountability of the executive would be so high that scandals like misappropriation of funds for the Commonwealth Games or jumping of the first-come-first-served queue in the 2G spectrum case would be unthinkable. They wanted to see an India that was wholly rich rather than one where a Suresh Kalmadi and an A Raja made a handful of rich men richer and pocketed a part of the proceeds. They were certainly not waiting anxiously for a control freak state, their fascination with the symbol of a draconian lokpal notwithstanding. They were more certainly not looking for an ideal socialist state of Yadav’s dreams.


But this is a cost Kejriwal had to pay because his IIT education and training in revenue services were not adequate to make him appreciate the importance of ideology. Whichever ideologue approached him first had the chance of making it to his core team. Yadav did. In the mornings that I spent with Kejriwal having breakfast at his house, in the long drives where I would be in a car with him, over the dinners that I had with him, in the corner room of the IaC and AAP’s office at Kaushambi, Ghaziabad, I realized this man actually did not mean that he hated to be dogmatic, and hence did not want to commit himself to any ideology. Actually, this man was too intellectually challenged to be able to fathom any philosophy of governance. You raise the issue, and he would instantly get irritated. “मुझे इस पर बात ही नहीं करनी! (I just don’t want to talk about it)” was his standard response.


In a morning of November 2012 when we were busy discussing the launching event slated for the 26th of the month, I was witness to Kejriwal dismissing a young woman from the Nav Bharat Party like that. The poor, energetic, young lady was trying to impress upon him the virtue of individual liberty and a free market.


Paraphrasing what Kejriwal said to the young woman in Hindi, I quote him: “I have seen a lot of governments. None is either left or right. They are all centrist. As and when we make a government, we have to toe more or less the same line.” This dismissive remark exposes two things. One, he simply does not know the subject he is speaking about. Two, he is going to offer India nothing new.


While this writer had no clue till October last year that this was the reality of Arvind Kejriwal’s intellect, I was unwilling to join the proposed party because of known position of Prashant Bhushan on the status of Kashmir. Of course, I knew Hazare and Kejriwal had distanced themselves from that position during the JLP movement. But how could I ignore the fact that Bhushan was a strong personality and would, hence, leave a mark in a party where everybody else was clueless about governance (unless its academic part was taken care of by Yadav)?


My close friend and senior journalist Sudesh Verma was optimistic. He thought the support base of the movement was so overwhelmingly rightist that the so-called socialists would have to fall in line. I grudgingly and pessimistically agreed to join the proposed party along with him in the second week of October 2012.


We had some pressing concerns to address, too. These philosophically blank people were stealing some of our longstanding ideas like decentralisation, state priority to health and education, removing government from the role of broker of petroleum companies... to name just a few. Since they spoke from a bigger platform, they looked like pioneers of these ideas, who were difficult to be accused of plagiarism.



Photographed from the writer's mobile, 5 Apr 2011
Further, while we considered the JLP movement a safety valve created in connivance between the government, the corporate sector and the media, we also believed that — like the Congress founded by AO Hume that went on to lead India’s struggle for independence — the IaC was no longer caught in a vice-like grip of its creators, especially after its talks with the government via the medium of joint drafting committee collapsed. This was no longer a Dadabhai Naoroji-style Congress; this was an MK Gandhi-styled one, it seemed.


Packed audience, but do they number 15,000?
As a strategy that you cannot deny to a political group, we were also ready to overlook its exaggerations like reporting the crowd at the Ramlila Ground to be of strength 1,00,000 when its capacity is 30,000 [The habit persists. There was a concert at Jantar Mantar on 23 November apparently to celebrate the party. When the programme was on, the party's enthusiasts began tweeting attendance figures of anything between 10,000 and 100,000 sitting at homes across the world or from the venue. The fact: The maximum capacity of Jantar Mantar is 3,000].

We had been working with KN Govindacharya since early 2011. The former RSS pracharak and BJP general secretary was a transformed politician. He found the BJP no less corrupt than the Congress. He was ready to invite the Sangh’s ire, too, with constant barbs against his former party. Most important for us, not one speech of his from a big stage or a friendly chat with him at home had any anti-Muslim, Hindutva content.


But there was one Sanghi hangover Govindacharya was suffering from. He never assigned work to non-Sanghis, convent-educated activists like Verma and me. Kejriwal looked more our type. We thought we would be more comfortable in the company of young people with new ideas.



Behind the Aug 11 stage: Where we first met
On our way to Kaushambi the first day, we decided we would accept any work offered to us without ifs and buts. Kejriwal could recall I had met him behind the stage at the Ramlila Ground in August 2011 (when he looked a confident man) and then in January 2012 (when he was dejected due to the poor response IaC had received the previous month in Mumbai).

Kejriwal asked what we had been doing all these years. We were carrying our curricula vitae. He identified us as journalists and asked us to head the media department. It included managing the social media and making press releases. Strangely, however, he did not turn up in the next meeting where he was supposed to pass on the message of his decision to his existing media team. Pankaj Gupta, who went on to become the party’s secretary, talked to us.


We were supposed to get on with the job right away. As expected, the team was not willing to cooperate. Not their fault. Kejriwal had not conveyed the message to the kids that they had to.


The “Final War Against Corruption” page on Facebook was messy, as is the “Aam Aadmi Party” page now. A young man made some attractive banners on Corel Draw, mostly with a quote of Kejriwal. The moment one of those images was uploaded, supporters of the movement would swarm all over it with congratulatory messages in Hindi, English, 'Hinglish' and what not. The immediacy and number of the responses were good indices of popularity. But if one in a hundred replies were to be a profound comment on policy, it had no chance of being noticed. Hundreds of more comments would soon push it to obscurity. The solution was a rule: Only one post per topic so that we had a one-stop destination to extract all valuable suggestions under a given subject from. The proposal was not heeded to, as the problems were three. One, it had the potential to thwart the banner maker’s creativity. Two, it would mean the media manager was accepting a new management. Three, which is the most important, does the party care for meaningful suggestions from the people?


Surprised by the question? Check the video (2 min 40 seconds onwards) where Kejriwal is roaming around the New Delhi constituency to ask its dwellers what he should incorporate in the local manifesto. After meeting many people, he seems to realise that the taxes in Delhi have been successively increased to such levels that most industries have left the capital; this, in turn, has created a scarcity of jobs. He would hence cut taxes drastically to make companies and jobs return to Delhi. I was elated to know the AAP national convener was getting over Bhushan’s idea of punishing the corporate sector. Alas, this point is missing in the party manifesto.


Back to October 2012, being assertive and wresting control of the media team did not make eminent sense to us, as we were more eager to meet the hassled people of the country out there at the pre-hustings. We told Kejriwal the boys were doing fine and needed no guidance. He was happy to know that. But before we could move to an activity that was more political, he called me the next day to tell he was not happy with the way the department was functioning. Curiously, however, the way he was absent on the day the boys were supposed to be told they would report to us, this time the boys were not present in the room; they couldn't get the message we were supposed to be in charge!


If we were encountering bad management practices, people who were once a part of the AAP’s IT team but are now estranged tell tales of utter rudeness. Kapil Rishi Yadav is one such person. He says Kejriwal told him, “Either you convince me, or be convinced, or get lost!”


Several other young boys and girls who had enthusiastically expressed their will to serve the organisation were treated shabbily. They are now closer to various members of the national council. Under the condition of anonymity — at least till the day of the polls, they would not like to come out in the open, protesting — they tell me, “Leaving the IT department to a bunch of sycophants that day was your biggest mistake,” adding, “You should have stood your ground, and then thrown it open to a pool of talents.”


They cannot stand Ankit Lal and Dilip Pandey, two names newspaper readers may be able to recall, as they do appear in AAP-related reports once in a while. That’s of course a bit unfair. Both are likeable characters, with the first tending to go over the top in praise of the party head on Facebook, and the second managing the party’s Twitter handle quietly. If they were protective and possessive of the turf they had been operating on since the JLP movement, it was Kejriwal’s job to separate his cosy personal bonding with them from the professional task the department was supposed to do. He seemed to do that as if not wanting to do it: by being absent from the first meeting and then by telling who would head the department in absence of other members of the department.


Anyway, we came back to the media department but did not play spoilsport in the boys’ game. We thought we would concentrate on the press releases instead. That had a different problem. Notes prepared by Verma of 20 years of experience in journalism would be vetted by Gupta, a small-time NGO head!


There are other journalists who soon lost interest in these control freaks. There was a policy meet, 11-13 January. Some 60 odd ideologues, including experts not from the party, had to be invited. When I called Punya Prasun Vajpayi (out of the 10 people whom I had to invite on the party's behalf), he turned down the invite, saying he was interested in furthering Gandhi's swaraj and not Kejriwal's swaraj!

Elsewhere, as the need for a mouthpiece was felt, journalists from various parts of the country volunteered to help. Some were put off when Sisodia told them that his own pamphlet called Apna Panna must be promoted. After keeping the rest hanging around for a couple of days, Kejriwal & Co told them he was too occupied by thoughts of the Delhi elections to spare a thought for the mouthpiece.

About 70 fresh graduates of journalism were ready to work for the party. They were ready to report from all parts of the country in different Indian languages. The CVs of all who were ready to contribute for free were forwarded to Kejriwal with a copy each to Sisodia. After a while, this writer got the same response: no time to even think of a media wing of the party!

Eventually, a bunch of rank amateurs were given the job. They are running the party mouthpiece Aap Ki Kranti mostly by plagiarising content from other sources or by taking dictation from the high command.

Scores of activists were pouring in from all parts of the country those days. Let’s ignore some who were frivolous. They would come with the claim of benefiting the party with some out-of-the-world ideas. If the ideas were not instantly accepted, they would sulk and leave, cursing Kejriwal and the new, proposed party.


Most were serious, with decades of experience in activism and processions of followers behind them. Each promised to bring in hundreds of his/her followers whom he/she had cultivated over a long period of time. And each ran into a wall! The faction of the IaC that had decided to form a party had also decided they were experts in every field of work. Even if they were not experts, they had a right by default to head the respective departments.


Activists from across the country who had converged at the proposed party’s office were slighted by offers to do menial jobs like maintaining registers for visitors, attending phone calls and arranging for guests’ accommodation in the nights of 24-26 November. Kejriwal, Bhushan, Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai, Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh et al must have been busy in some political activity all this while; none of the enthusiastic activists were allowed a peep into that world. If every work of labour is dignified, one wonders why none of these ‘hallowed’ people shared a part of this dignity.

Verma and I were a bit privileged. On 29-30 October, we were invited to a policy determining meet that was being held at the Indian Social Institute, Lodi Road. During the lunch hour of the first day, Kejriwal requested us to attend a meeting at Bhushan’s residence that evening to give a final shape to the proposals that would emerge from some 60-odd ideologically driven activists who were brainstorming at the institute the whole day.


When the issue of organisational structure came up during the meeting at Bhushan’s place that evening, Verma proposed a huge structure with vice presidents and general secretaries slightly more than the number of States of the country (more in anticipation of a few more States surfacing soon). Since that morning, however, Kejriwal appeared fixated with the idea of a convener. That evening and the next, Verma kept insisting on a large structure to absorb and channelize the tremendous energy of people across the country who would like to change India through the instrument of this new party. He said we were supposed to fight other parties’ corruption, not their traditional structures which are fine even by the Election Commission’s standards.


For the next few days, the prominent faces of the JLP movement could not be traced. We learnt that hectic parleys were still going on at Bhushan’s residence. Obviously, we were not invited.


We were still a part of the team that was drafting the party constitution, though. We were needed especially for the philosophical part. As for the organisational structure, “बाद में तय कर लेंगे (we will decide that later)” was Sisodia’s response.


Kejriwal would sit in the presiding chair those evenings at Kaushambi, visibly distracted. Whenever between the debates, Sisodia, Singh, Rai, Verma or I would seek his consent to a certain part of the constitution others had just agreed upon, he would just mutter, “योगेन्द्र यादव बहुत नाराज़ हैं मुझ से (Yadav is not happy with me at all).” We said individuals were not important; let everybody be a part of the process. Kejriwal said some individuals were important, and they could not be ignored.


It can be fairly guessed why Yadav might have been upset. At the end of the 30 October policy meet, the JLP lot (Kejriwal, Sisodia, Singh, Rai, Vishwas) had cold shouldered his plan to turn into a national hero. He had proposed that, after the launch of the party, he would go on a nationwide yatra (walk) to propagate its message to the people. That plan of his to turn a poster boy was not sanctioned. How his displeasure was turned into satisfaction subsequently could be seen on 24 November that comes up next.


That morning when the party’s national convention was to be held and the party constitution adopted by it, more than a hundred activists who had come from faraway States were not let inside the Constitution Club. Fuming with rage, they declared they were going back to Anna.


Some 300 activists, Verma and I included, entered the Speaker Hall, the venue.


In course of the meeting with 60 ideologues on 29-30 October, I had repeatedly urged the group to follow a proper process of internal democracy in the party. A vital aspect was the manner in which critical issues would be voted in or out. I said only the secret ballot would be a fair process, as people did not like to be identified as dissenters when they wished to object to a decision. The apprehension proved right on 24 November.


As 23 nominated members of the national executive (NE) were announced, rather imposed on the group — that, Yadav said, would be referred to as the national council (NC) — boos and hoots from unidentifiable persons could be heard in the hall. But no one showed the courage to raise a hand in objection when the NE members were paraded on stage one by one, and Rajan Prakash (a past Sangh-affiliated journalist who is now the party’s candidate from Kirari) read out their CVs in brief.


Some people stood up in protest only when the names of Ilyas Azmi and Prem Singh Pahari were called out. Their record of having hopped from one party to another made all of us frown.


“क्या इन का सच में ह्रदय परिवर्तन हुआ है (Have these people really undergone a sea change in mentality)?” a backbencher cried. Azmi was in the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Welfare Party of India (WPI) and Rashtriya Inquilab Party (RIP). He had also extended support to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) once. Pahari had arrived from the BJP.


Composition of the rest of the NE showed how Kejriwal had managed to pacify Yadav, whose ‘resentment’ was troubling him through the previous week when we were drafting the constitution. Yadav pushed his friends from the virtually dysfunctional SJP into the NE so that he could leverage their support during debates on policy. Many others in the NE were insignificant politically; if an Ajit Jha would be Yadav’s ‘yes man’, supported by Prof Anand Kumar, entrants like Christina Samy of Women’s Front, Tamil Nadu, and Habung Pyang, past information commissioner in Arunachal Pradesh, have so far not been noticed contributing either to the party’s policy or mass mobilisation campaign.


Out of the JLP lot, Kejriwal is ideologically non-committal. ‘Poet’ Vishwas is good at rhetoric, dud at substance. Sisodia is smart, but that’s all about him. Singh would probably fare better in a street fight rather than a talk show on television. The most frequently seen AAP face on TV, Shazia Ilmi, is naïve. No activist worth his salt in Haryana knows what Naveen Jaihind’s claim to fame is. Gopal Rai used to cool his heels below the stage during the August 2011 movement, after his fanciful Teesra Swadheenta Andolan found no takers. Current members of the AISA, of which he was once a part, say that the bullet shot he had sustained, which left him partially paralysed, had nothing to do with a political struggle; it was a result of some personal feud. He must be indebted to the party for his inclusion in the elite club. Mayank Gandhi tilts towards freedom of the market, but whenever approached with a request to speak his mind, he says he does not want to antagonise the rest of the leadership. That leaves us with formidable human rights lawyer Bhushan, whose leftism was evident in his interview with a newspaper where he said the AAP could someday ally with the Communist Party of India (CPI).


When I was disturbed by the constant tilt of the party towards populism, knowing Gandhi as a person whose economic thinking was close to mine, I shared my angst with him. He sent me a copy of a letter he had written to another founder member, Prithvi Reddy, which is as follows (unedited):

If you think deep, the kind of economic and social issues that we are espousing, are the exact ones I used to dislike. But, I am convinced that these are impractical and ,once and if, you are in government, you will be forced to take the appropriate route. I dont get worked up about these issues. My views are
  • There is status quo in the nation, every party is more and less following the same policies and no original ideas are coming in the public arena (unless they are propped by vested interests). Status quo is not acceptable in a nation where 40 crore people sleep hungry and there is so much disparity and injustice.
  • The licence raj is replaced by crony capitalism. The incestuous relationship between all - politicians, judiciary, bureaucrat, media, contractors and industry will always find a way to make corrupt money. The electoral system is the core of the problem and has an incessant need for this money. All the existing parties have tasted power with this electoral system and no one wants to change it.
  • The top-down decision- making needs to be over turned.
  • So, what is needed is churning, unrest and challenge to this status quo. I do not see too many hopes in the existing parties, for they have a deep interest in the continuation of the system.
  • While India against Corruption did lead to mass awareness, questioning and boldness in the populace, it was just a blip political landscape. Once, the movement lost steam, the churning would stop. And therefore formation of a political agitation is something we supported.
  • The extent of churning necessary is pretty torrid and therefore there is a need for some electoral successes and some major "bees" to be released in the static atmosphere. That may hopefully make a major dent and lead to rethinking, policy upheavals and systemic changes.
  • Electoral success in Delhi can be the litmus test for this. And the revolutionary ideas that Arvind has of ward wise free education and free medical can lead to lots of soul searching and re-prioritization by mainstream parties.
  • I am not too concerned about some of the documents coming out of our stable, thinking them to be maverick thinking that is theoretical right now, but will mold itself,once it hits against the rocks of reality.
  • I am not too worried about any one else's views on my position and usefulness. My mind and body is just a tool that is taking part in what I believe is the cyclic growth of this nation. Similar to Anna, Arvind, IAC or AAP - these are just tools and nothing more. Giving it too much importance is counter-productive and emotionalism.
Among the rest, how many in politics have heard of Yogesh Dhahiya, Ashok Aggarwal, Subhash Ware and Rakesh Sinha?

Dinesh Waghela might have been noticed for his flowing white beard by some. Mukesh Kothari, a former NC member who left the party disgusted by the lack of accountability of its leaders, says, “This man is not taken seriously by his own family. He is taken seriously by no one I know of. He has no vision to transform India.”


When there are so many empty brains, a few beholden ones, some muted mouths, an exception who is timid, and the only one with knowledge (who is also vociferous) is a hardcore leftist, there is no prize for guessing what direction the party would take in politics. This is more so as the only voice among the others, that of Yadav, is a socialist, too. Who cares what the rest of the party, comprising thousands of people, wants? Kejriwal & Co did not care that the middle class that had poured into the streets in 2011 were not looking for a socialist party to transform India. They had seen enough of it till the 1980s.


So that there is no opposition to fanciful, obsolete, obscure ideas ranging from Indira Gandhi’s vintage to theoretical socialism of community ownership found only in textbooks, 300 thinkers of contrarian schools of thought were dumped into the NC. Ergo, on the very day of its inception, the AAP took a decisive turn towards the left, which was against the grain of the JLP movement that was largely supported by the middle class who wanted a free market, albeit with transparent observation of regulations. However, we kept quiet, hoping that the supporters’ base was so overwhelmingly right wing that a balance in policy matters would have to be maintained: to stem revolt, if not for anything else.


The hope was belied in the course of the past one year. The NC has not met even once in the last one year of the party’s existence, against the constitutional requirement of being convened twice a year. The world outside must note, the NC is simmering with discontent.


“Except a voice or two, those in the hall did not protest because we thought another meeting of the NC would be called soon and we would have the right to recall the NE,” says an NC member from Rajasthan, adding in despair, “But no meeting of the NC has been convened in this past one year whereas the party constitution mandates that the NC meet twice a year.”


The NC takes serious exception to Kejriwal’s Batla House faux pas and Maulana Tauqeer Raza blunder. It has reservations about the economic viability of the offer of freebies. “They never ask for our consent to any action they take,” each one of them complains. The member from Rajasthan says, “Members of the council posed various questions, offered advices, raised objections, but no leader responded.”


Equally disturbing is the fact that both the leaders and followers of this party start salivating at the prospect of celebrity endorsement. Is this supposed to be the character of a party purportedly standing for the common Indian? Bollywood actress Amrita Rao happened to endorse the AAP the day after the concert at Jantar Mantar through a tweet. And the party's gang of fans went ecstatic! Why does a party that claims to be of the aam aadmi start jumping up and down in joy whenever a Khaas aadmi or aurat endorses it?


This is the very mentality that made them invite a serial abuser of an entertainment channel — Rajiv Laxman of MTv — to campaign for the party, which went on to embarrass them and they had to apologise for it.


The story of being flattered by Rao's tweet is related, as is that of the concert led by Vishal Dadlani the previous day. As citizens, they all have the right to have political opinions. But what do these characters understand about politics and nation building that their advice to support a certain party to power should be heeded by the people? More so when some of them shower expletives in speech, use offensive words in parodies and make indecent gestures?


I dismissed the party’s euphoria over the coming of Laxman for campaign immediately on noticing it on Twitter by calling him “funky”. A founder member sent me a message via WhatsApp immediately: “I wanted to say the same thing, but couldn’t garner the courage to say it.” Anyway, the AAP fanatics were in no mood to hold themselves back.


Watching the way the party is shaping up from a distance, Avinash, a software developer who became a member of the party out of the hope that it could improve the conditions of governance in the country, notes, “For me, the AAP and Kejriwal came as a ray of hope in this grim political situation. I loved both as they took the problems head-on and never shied away from answers. For the last one year, however, it seems that things have started to change.


The concept of Swaraj (self-rule through the process of decentralisation) should have been observed inside the party structure and ought to have been visible to the people at large. That is not happening. Even though it is talked about by the AAP often, the decisions taken inside the party don't follow that principle — whether it’s in the case of candidate selection or in the case of policy directions.”


This is another professional who had tried to help further the party’s interests with his expertise and skills, but was thwarted by the incompetent coterie that wanted to keep all powers restricted to it. Being trained in his profession from IIT – Delhi, he took exception to the proposal that, in the process of developing the party’s website and mobile application, he would have to report to people who did not have half the clue as he did as to how the job is done.


Kejriwal had tried to pacify us in the evening of 24 November 2012, sending an SMS to Verma, assuring him and me of a role to play in building the organisation in the State of Delhi. I was not happy with my close friend. It seemed to me that he looked too politically ambitious, and that made the men of the JLP movement get into an impregnable shell. I called up friends based in different parts of the country to tell them what had happened and to solicit their advice.


Rajarshi Nandy, a technical writer and passionate theologian, made me see reason in Verma’s stand. I realised after several months lapsed the importance of a key position in a political party. If we had been in the national executive or the political affairs committee, we would not have allowed Kejriwal to turn communal or populist.


Then we joined the Delhi team. There too, giving two hoots to democracy, we saw that power was flowing top-down and not bottom-up. Instead of building wards, and then Assembly and finally the Lok Sabha constituencies, the party had given the charge of Delhi to 7 favourites who were manning one LS seat each.


In mid-December 2012, Verma appeared for an interview for a television news channel and joined it in mid-January. He says, “I had joined the AAP, wanting to help it in mobilising people. We had already done a lot of mobilisation for Youth for Democracy and also for the Anna-led movement. But I soon realised that AAP leaders were not interested in mobilisers. I would go to the party office and just be around, wasting time. This continued for a few months after which I left.”


“I realised that Kejriwal neither had the vision of institutionalsing democracy nor the patience to experiment. A high command culture has already set in. Those who can manipulate will thrive in this new party. Arvind knows how he was pressured to include undeserving people in the leadership. I can say so because the leadership was handpicked rather than thrown by a democratic process. If one has to do traditional politics, why do it via AAP? I don’t see it going far because of the hurry that plagues its leaders,” Verma concludes.


This want — of being a decision maker in a party or of creating a mass base for the party — is not the same as wanting to fight elections and grab governmental power. If ideologically committed people are not decision makers in a party, the party runs around like a headless chicken, chased by activists and so-called experts who come up with outlandish ideas every other day.


The story of the self-styled Bharatiya Aam Aadmi Parivar or BAAP is different. Greed was apparently the reason for its formation. It’s a bunch of disgruntled elements that were denied election tickets. If they had been allowed to contest on AAP tickets, every AAP ideology would have appeared fine to them. When some BJP supporters in the social media were celebrating the split of the AAP, circulating links of the breakaway faction’s Facebook page, I visited their posts and made mincemeat of their allegations of Kejriwal being corrupt.


I wrote to them on 2 August 2013:

हो सकता है कि आप के तमाम इल्ज़ामात सही हों, परन्तु क्या यह पार्टी नेतृत्व द्वारा की गई पहली ग़लती थी? जिन लोगों का राजनीति में कोई अनुभव नहीं उन्हें आये दिन वर्गलाया जा सकता है। ऐसा कई बार आम आदमी पार्टी के साथ हुआ और इससे पहले इंडिया अगेंस्ट करप्शन के साथ भी। ऐसी परिस्थितियों में विवेकशील सहयोगियों ने लगातार पार्टी/समूह के नेतृत्व को टोका और कई बार दबाव डाल कर उन्हें सही रास्ते पर ले आए।
इस समूह में ऐसे विवेकशील, चिंतनशील, सैद्धांतिक, ज़मीर की आवाज़ सुनने वाले लोग नज़र नहीं आते। ऐसा कैसे हो गया कि पार्टी के सारे दोष आपको तब दिखने शुरू हुए जब आपको चुनाव लड़ने के टिकट नहीं मिले? आज तक आप लोग कहाँ थे?
They protested. One of them, Abhishek Bhardwaj, wrote:
If someone wants to serve nation and mother land what is wrong to have a desire to fight election. If you are saying that fighting election is bad, why is Kejriwal fighting the election?
I responded:
I am not saying that. I'm saying how come everything about the leadership was alright according to you before the election season. If Ashish Malviya and you are right in saying that you had protested earlier, too, where is the proof of that protest? Written proof? Photographic proof? Audio proof?
I can show a hell lot of emails, for example, to show how I differed with the party leadership on quite a few points. I differed on the FDI issue. I differed on the question of secularism. And I also posted my displeasure on Facebook. At the same time I noticed that constant pressure on this party's leadership works. There are several examples of that, too. I'd started pressuring Kejriwal since August 2011 to form a party. He finally agreed in August 2012. The flagbearers of the Jan Lokpal movement was adamant about bringing judges under the jurisdiction of Lokpal. Several jurists convinced them it is akin to mixing the judiciary and the executive. It's better to deal with it through a judicial review commission. There was initially no demand to confiscate properties and bank accounts of criminal politicians. My persuasion introduced this provision as well as provided for prohibition of such candidates from fighting elections. There are at least 7 changes I can count in the vision document that were carried out under the pressure of party workers like us. In the latest controversy over the party's statement on the Batla House encounter, the party diluted its original statement following a furore among the cadre at the suggestion that the encounter was fake. Three days of intense pressure from us worked.
Note that all these are issues of principles, issues of policy. When you raise them, you get public support and sympathy. If you have kept quiet all this while and begun protesting only when election tickets were denied to you, you look like disgruntled elements even if your grouse over that limited aspect is valid.
My response gives an indication of the nature of things accepted by Kejriwal and that which is not. One and two, your proposal should be socialist as well as populist; perhaps some proposal from me would have been accepted if it had been a strategy to hoodwink Muslims and get their votes. Three, it should not affect the structure of the party decided between members of the political affairs committee behind closed doors.

Because our long-standing demand of making health and education state priorities was socialist in nature, it was lapped up by the AAP. We had also demanded that, along with the institution of a powerful Lokpal, a charge-sheeted politician must be debarred from contesting elections and that his property confiscated and bank accounts frozen. It synced with Kejriwal’s rabble-rousing persona; so it was accepted too.


Before I proceed further, an explanation would be in place. I am going to cite from several email exchanges and a few more online debates that I was a part of. If one thinks I was merely an online activist, he could be shown scores of photographs that I took while building the party ward by ward.


The electronic exchanges became inevitable because of another thoroughly undemocratic practice of the closed club called the political affairs committee. The five odd ‘stars’ of the party do not attend calls from anybody except members of this club! They may also receive calls from some high profile journalists and celebrities. Who says it is an aam aadmi’s party?


Kejriwal did not receive a call even from Dr N Jayaprakash Narayan, in November 2012 when people thought the new party was interested in expanding across the country, say sources in the Lok Satta Party. The AAP’s yet-to-be-declared national convener texted JP instead of receiving his call, say people close to the latter. The head of the LSP must have felt slighted.


When it was not a matter of policy, but one of refining our language, my intervention was appreciated (one can note that the crassness of the MTv order crept in after they were no longer talking to me). For example, following the 16 December gang rape, the party issued a press release that went:

क्या भारत अपनीबहन-बेटियों के लिए इतनी सुरक्षा की गारंटी भी नहीं दे सकता कि वे सड़कों पर निर्भय होकर चल सकें? … आम आदमी पार्टी बलात्कार की शिकार छात्रा और उसके जैसी सैकड़ों मजबूर बहनों और बेटियों को इंसाफ दिलाने के लिए सड़क पर उतरेगी.
I shot back immediately:
जब तक औरतों को केवल माँ, बहन, बेटी समझा जाएगा या पूजा में देवी का दर्जा दिया जाएगा तब तक इस समस्या का हल नहीं निकलेगा। वक्त आ गया है कि भारत के लोग इस बात को भी मानें कि औरत साथी भी हो सकती है, दफ़्तर में सहकर्मी भी हो सकती है और किसी पुरुष की तरह एक अनजान लेकिन स्वतंत्र और मर्यादित व्यक्ति भी। अगर कोई औरत वेश्या है तो भी उसकी मर्ज़ी के बगैर किसी को उसे छूने तक का अधिकार नहीं। अगर वह हमारी माँ, बहन, बेटी या पत्नी नहीं या पूजा के स्थान पर लगी किसी देवी की तस्वीर या मूर्ति नहीं तो इसका यह मतलब यह नहीं कि उससे दुर्व्यवहार करने का मर्दों का अधिकार बन जाता है।
आम आदमी पार्टी के पत्राचार और अन्य साहित्य में नारी का वर्णन केवल माँ, बहन या बेटी के रूप में हो इससे मुझे एह्तिराज़ है। यह पिष्टोक्ति (cliché) है; इसका प्रयोग व्यवस्था परिवर्तन का नारा बुलंद करने वालों को शोभा नहीं देता। क्योंकि व्यवस्था परिवर्तन का एक अभिन्न अंग मानसिकता परिवर्तन भी है। इस दर्जे से महिलाओं की वश्यता (subordination) और उन पर देवत्वारोपण (deification) के सामंतवाद (feudalism) की बू आती है।
Yadav appreciated it. He wrote:
सुरजीत भाई, मैं आपकी बात से सहमत हूँ और शुक्रगुजार हूँ की आपने हमारी भूल की तरफ ध्यान दिलाया, उम्मीद है आप धरने में आएंगे।
Of course, I went to the dharna (sit-in demonstration). I also happily bore with blows of a colonial-era police’s lathis. I used to be so happy to be a part of the party back then. It did not matter that I was not an office bearer. The changes made in the vision document had indicated it was possible to keep the movement on track.

I told Kejriwal during a meet of the Delhi team in December that farmers’ plight could not be addressed without amending the APMC Act. God knows whether he could make head or tail of the suggestion. He did nod to it nevertheless (now I see that there is no mention thereof in the AAP manifesto).


In that same meeting, an activist from the Muslim-dominated Okhla village complained that he had no answer to the query of local residents as to what special package the party was offering to Muslims. Kejriwal snubbed him, “You think all the measures we are promising will benefit all Indians except Muslims? Is it health and education as state priority for all except Muslims? Will increasing the minimum support price for farmers not benefit Muslim farmers? …”


The head of the AAP has obviously taken a policy U-turn since then. It became obvious during the satyagraha he held to make people revolt against unfair electricity and water prices in March-April.


I protested right on the first day (23 March), when Shahnaz Hindustani, an activist from Rajasthan who is the inaugural speaker in all campaign fixtures of the party, made an outrageous announcement from the stage: “People ask me, ‘You are a Muslim. Yet you are a patriot, How come?’”


In the morning of 24 March, I shot an email to all members of the national executive in protest the next morning. A debate ensued as follows:

Dear friends,
I point out, with some distress, the invocations of religion in the speeches made from our stage officially. By speaking of the Mahabharata and Karbala (26 November 2012) and the Qur'an (23 March 2013), our orators are taking us along the same path of distorted secularism — appeasing all communities in turns, as if we were separate electorates — that has plagued the Indian nation state for the last 65 years. The party needs to emerge from this mindset, which was also betrayed during India against Corruption's August 2011 movement, whose epicentre was the Ramlila ground, where first Iftar was conducted ceremoniously in front of the stage and the next day, in a bid to 'balance' it, Janmashtami was celebrated! Yesterday, a speaker insisting he was a patriot despite being a Muslim was altogether unwarranted. Why is he suffering from a My Name is Khan kind of complex? Individually, let every member of the party be a believer, an agnostic or an atheist. But when one is using the party's platform, there should be total indifference to communal identities.
Those who got a copy of the mail lauded my intervention when I reached Sundar Nagri (I was in charge of the Seemapuri constituency then). Bhushan patted my back and encouraged me to keep pointing out mistakes of the policy makers, as and when they caught my notice.

Was that mere courtesy? The party leadership refused to mend its ways thereafter. On the concluding day of the hunger strike, Kejriwal paraded clerics of different religions on stage, each of whom declared that his community supported the party, as if all members of each of these communities were their slaves!


I was terribly disturbed. I shot off another mail on 6 April:

The practice of the distorted version of secularism continues unabated from our party platform in the form of parading padres, maulanas, swamis on stage. This is the road the Congress has travelled with disastrous results for the nation. By adopting the same means, can we reach a different end? I don't understand why we need 'contractors' of religious communities to declare from our stage that 'their people' are with us. For one, 'their' people did not send them elected to us. And what has religion got to do with the city's water and electricity supply?
Only Prof Anand Kumar liked it. He wrote:
This is a very important suggestion from you that we should be careful about remaining within the citizen-centric framework for our Party activities. The practice of political balancing has to be de-learned. Your polite reminders about the correct way of approaching the people in our work of mobilizations are very appreciable.
With best wishes...
The sentiment did not reflect in the constitution of committees that were to look into possible means to change the way the country is governed. It was not a problem that the party made a community-specific committee. Some communities indeed face some typical problems not observed in the midst of others.

The problem was with the AAP’s erroneous understanding of the fundamentals. The name of the committee for Muslims figured under the topic, secularism!


This is how I reacted, beginning 30 April:

May the people please know the credentials of the persons in the list above who have not been a part of the Jan Lokpal Movement, and the factors that led to their inclusion in the respective committees?
What is the party trying to achieve by speaking of secularism and minorities in the same breath? Do the benefits of sections C1 - C5 and D1 - E3 exclude the 'minorities', because of which two separate sections C6 and C6a had to be created to address them? This, by the way, was a question Arvindji had thrown at a volunteer working in the Okhla area, who had demanded 'special packages' for the community that is dominant in his Vidhan Sabha constituency (this conversation took place in the first week of November 2012 in the PCRF office in Kaushambi, which is now our party office). Are the 'minorities' capable of thinking only about themselves, and not the remaining Indians, because of which they do not find a place in other committees?
Most importantly, how do we plan to reach a different destination by traversing the same path as that of faltering political parties before us and the British Empire that looked at Indians as separate electorates? Even if we have a plan, is that intellectual or academic exercise discernible for the masses at large that are expected to distinguish between the likes of the Congress, SP, BSP, JD(U), JD(S) etc on the one hand and the AAP on the other? I guess not. At the hustings, the BJP can quite easily club us with them and make itself look distinct in the whole lot. The psephologists among those I address can figure out what that implies in terms of election results.
The party turned defensive about its position this time. Yadav wrote:
Surajit bhai, I have followed your mail and appreciate your vigilance in ensuring that we do not turn into a standard hypocritical party when it comes to secularism. Indeed we need to be watchful. we have to avoid three ways of being secular: there is Congress secularim which is often about selective appeasement of minorities and overlooking their real and substantive issues, the BJP secularism which wants to reduce the formal equality before law just to a formality and make the Muslims a second grade citizen and the communist secularism that treats anything religious as untouchable. We need to evolve a principled approach that can relate without any guilt to religious and cultural symbols and discuss the material and community related difficulties of any community whether it is majority or minority.
On the Committee on Muslim Affairs, the simple reasoning is as follows: we have special policy groups looking at the condition of various social groups who are known to be be disadvantaged. so we have groups on women, urban slums, dalits, adivasis. it is in this spirit that we have a group on Muslims, but not on Sikhs or Christians. The Muslims are not just a minority, they are (according to the data published by the Government and a report placed before the parliament)disadvantaged social group: their education, economic and employment profile places them at par with or below dalits. This is a good reason to have a group to look at their issues.
Hope this clarifies.
On 1 May I responded:
Yogendraji, a question remains unanswered. Why do our Muslim friends figure only in the committee for Muslims? Are they incapable of thinking about other Indians? Also, going by your reasoning, the category should have been named "Social justice and Muslims" rather than "Secularism and minorities". The nomenclature shows we, as Indians, continue to distort the meaning of secularism/laïcité and wantonly subscribe to the distortion. Hindus and Muslims alike will trust such a party/government to deliver justice on occasions of dispute that demonstrates that it does not view Indians through the religious/communal prism. Secularism means being non-religious. And that is distinct from being irreligious, a synonym of immoral. The second is a canard spread to malign the noble philosophy so that politicians continue to play footsie with one community at a time like the British did (today it's euphemised as "sarva dharma samabhav"). I am not asking my party to follow France to ban pagdis or Iceland to proscribe minarets. Neither am I pleading with you to emulate the CPI that had issued a show-cause notice to Indrajit Gupta for getting his head tonsured following his father's death. These are instances of Stalinism, not secularism. I only pray my party stays aloof from religious/communal considerations in public view, while its individual members continue to be theists, atheists or agnostics at home.”
Yadav wrote back:
Surajit bhai,
There are two separate entities here. One is a Policy Group on "Secularism and Minorities" that is looking at what should be our version of secularism and how should religious and linguistic minorities be treated in a secular state. The second is a Task Force exclusively devoted to the Muslim issues. This is exactly like our structure on the caste question: we have a Policy Group on Caste and reservations and Task Forces on Dalit and Adivasi issues.
You seem to be convinced that Secularism is synonymous with French style laicité and religious is synonymous with communal. I hope that the party would have an open mind about these questions. Since you take a lot of interest in academic literature, I would like to draw your attention to the academic literature on this which suggests that the french may have something to learn from the Indian model.
Yours…
Shalini Gupta [Prashant Bhushan's sister] wrote:
Although the formal definition of secularism is worldly not spiritual, not specifically relating to religion, I like to think of secularism as equal respect for all religions and part of that equal respect means addresssing historical injustices or inequalities so that we can have a level playing field.
So for me secularism and minorities can and does go together so I am not seeing any disconnect.
I think the larger question is whether as a party we truly believe in secularism, that is equally respect all religions or are trying to use the concept for political mileage or simply making a sham. This is a question of "intention" which can never be answered through verbal debate but only proven through ‘action’.
I was not satisfied. My next mail went:
Yogendraji,
I have called the French model Stalinism and not secularism. So how could I possibly be a supporter of that model?
I addressed Gupta thus:
Shaliniji,
Treating all religions/communities as equal is an excuse for what is called in Hindi bandar baant. You treat one community, and the other one expects that the next time it will be its turn to be offered some privileges. And as you go about balancing the favours, each community complains that it has got less and the other has got more! So you have a situation where all communities are found forever sulking. This has been the bane of the Indian model of secularism, which is no secularism at all. Secularism does not translate to treating all communities as equal; it means treating all citizens as equal irrespective of their respective religious identities. It's a hands-off approach, for which we need not look down upon religions with contempt like the communists, much as the communist parties have been considered by far the most secular of all political parties until they lost their distinctiveness due to support to UPA-I and, more so, the act of banishing Taslima Nasreen, which made it look like an extension counter of the Congress.
As for action, I have already registered my displeasure at parading clerics on our stage, who have claimed their respective communities' support to our movement, as if members of their communities were their bonded labourers/slaves. Such an action was, in essence, like genuflecting before the Shahi Imam or instituting an Atal Bihari Vajpayee Himayat Committee before elections.
Finally, I repeat, I have no objection whatsoever to addressing the concerns of Muslims under our project of social justice. In fact, I shall extend all-out support to such endeavours. My case is that it should not be masqueraded as secularism.
Yadav did not agree. He wrote:
Surajit bhai, I drew upon your letter that uses secularism/laïcité as synonyms. I thought laicite stands for French style secularism.
Shalini ji can respond to the second part of your question. But as I said earlier, you might wish to refer to Rajeev Bhargav's body of work on secularim that argues that Indian secularism has its distinct identity and that is not necessarily a problem. That of course does not mean that a lot of hypocrisy that takes place in the name of secularism need to be defended. We have committed some mistakes too and you have been right to alert us to this.
Thanks for this conversation.
I acknowledged his response:
Thank you, Yogendraji, for your patient responses. I will identify the fora where I can engage with Rajeev Bhargav.
I did mention laïcité. I believe French secularism was on the right track until the post-François Mitterrand regimes messed it up by interfering in the citizens' faith-related practices. The secular state I advocate does not conduct raids on church-goers like Stalin's government, nor does it frown when a cross dangles outside the shirt of a passer-by as it has been since the Nicolas Sarkozy days. When it sees people indulging in faith-related practices, it simply looks the other way, considering it to be none of its business. It is this aloofness that, I firmly believe, will endear a party or a government to the masses and no community will doubt its intention of delivering justice on critical occasions. Treating all communities as equal, on the other hand, will be akin to allotting separate quotas to different communities, after which each one of them is left with the scope of complaining that others' quotas are 'unfairly' bigger in size. That, in turn, will be used against us when we try to settle disputes. The losing party in a given case will accuse us of being communal and, if we cite other instances where that aggrieved party had won the case, we will look like continuing with the colonial legacy of separate electorates — at times favouring Hindus, at times favouring Muslims!
When I realised my arguments were not acceptable to the party leadership, and that it had made up its mind to pursue the Congress’s — if not the Samajwadi Party’s — version of secularism, I made the debate public on my Facebook page. This was to tell all who believed I was in politics to fight a righteous battle that I had not betrayed their mandate.

One such believer, Thomas Mathew, who hails from Kerala and works in Bengaluru, said, “I would like Prof Yadav to point out five differences between his idea of secularism and the Congress's idea of it. It's one and the same.”


Sanket Sunand Dash who hails from Odisha and works in Hyderabad wrote, “I feel religion and the concept of religious minority is redundant in India. Muslims are another endogamous group like Rajputs, Yadavs or Jatavs. Hence, instead of religious secularism the focus should be on the broader concept of ethnic neutrality.”


Kanishk Kumar Sharma from Bihar, working in a government office in New Delhi, wrote, “Surajit ji, you might have a vision of economic liberalism and the true secularism (the current version of secularism may be called poly-appeasement) but, by and large, the AAP is not offering substantially different ideas so far… Some resemble socialism, some others poly-appeasment. In this scenario, I and many would like to prefer to stick to their respective favourite parties beacuse I can't see the AAP breaking any voting bloc of either the Congress or the BJP en-masse.”


This makes eminent sense. It’s not a matter of ideology alone. The public impression the AAP has created of itself will fail to carve its niche wherever it goes. It may claim to be different from an SP, a Janata Dal (United) or a Trinamool Congress by virtue of finer points, but the electorate at large of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and West Bengal cannot appreciate such intricacies. And that is a big tactical blunder Kejriwal committed by inviting Yadav and outsourcing policy to him.


The party continued with its policy of multi-communalism, undeterred by the corrective suggestions members and supporters kept sending to it. Making the injustice meted out to riot victims in 1984, it made a Sikh Cell within the party. I asked immediately, “Do Sikhs alone care for Sikhs? Were non-Sikh humane Indians not pained by the pogrom of 1984?” When the party leadership did not respond, I made the question public again.


Ziya us Salam, who works with The Hindu, agreed: “One man's sorrow has to be the sorrow of others, too.”


Bachpan Bachao Andolan’s Rizwan Ali wrote: “इसी का नाम राजनीति है, सर (This is politics, sir).”


And then someone quipped the AAP would spend all its life making one ‘cell’ each for all the castes and communities of this diverse country. Rajeswari Ranganathan wanted to know when the party was going to constitute a cell for the Iyers from Palakkad, Kerala.


A national council member from Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh, who does not wish to be identified till the Delhi Assembly elections are over, said, “We normally make a headway wherever we campaign, but every now and then a stupid, communal comment from Kejriwal comes — sometimes calling the Batla House encounter fake, sometimes meeting riot accused Maulana Tauqeer Raza — and we have to spend days on end defending the party instead of attacking our political rivals.”


There was another disturbing aspect to the story of acceptance of guilt of misinterpreting secularism. A ‘lesser’ activist Shahnaz could be criticised for his communal speech. Communalism by the ‘big bosses’ couldn’t. Wrong to say it’s a khaas aadmi’s party?


There was a long debate on the issue of foreign direct investment in the retail trade, too. And my pro-market arguments were misconstrued as an anti-business sentiment! Here is a copy of the debate.


On 11 May, the news of formation of a traders’ lobby in the party made me concerned. I wrote to what had begun looking like the new party’s ‘high command’, a term used typically to refer to the Congress’s first family:

Dear leaders of the movement,
Yesterday I sent an SMS to some of you asking what the AAP Delhi Vyapar Udyog Mandal was supposed to do. Is it going to be a trading/business class's lobby within the party? In the event of our forming a government, is it going to pressure our finance ministry the way the RSS's swadeshi lobby is known to pressure all BJP governments' budget proposals? None of those addressed responded to the query. I hope someone in a position of responsibility responds to this email.
The business class is politically organised across the world. It is we, the hapless consumers, who have no political platform anywhere. Who is going to address our woes? Since ours is a unique political organisation that is trying to redress genuine grievances of all, should we not expect an Upbhokta Adhikar Mandal (Consumer Rights Cell or Wing) in the least?
Shalini Gupta:
Dear Surajitji, The AAP leaders can respond with the official answer to your question.
However to me your question seems less of a question and more of a statement, a statement where there is an assumption of negative intent on the part of the trader community. If we assume that all traders will only be interested in lobbying for inappropriate personal interests, are we not falling in the trap of the same bias that the aap is accused of, that it is biased against industry and business. No political party can survive with this bias because one cannot imagine a state where there is no trade or industry, no business owners, only workers.
Can we not imagine that there can be honest traders and honest businesses? Can we not imagine that the business community too would be interested in clean business which can only happen if there is clean governance? Why can the business community not be an honest part of this new vision? Why are we using the models of the present reality to project into the future, The vision of the future that we are trying to create is so fundamentally different from the present that none of the current models can work for the future.
This is the same kind of bias that many people have about politics and politicians that we are trying to change. So why can't we change the way business is done as well as how politics is done. And why can't the business community be our partners in honestly wanting this change, working for it and making it happen?
Kejriwal’s SMSs are monosyllabic: “Ok,” “sure”, “great” etc. Emails from his BlackBerry are one-liners. This time, his answer was longer:
I completely agree with Shalini. Whereas on one hand we are forming traders' wing wherein the only thing we r promising is an honest environment to do business (and strict action against those who flout norms), we have also formed our worker's wing to protect the interests of workers.
Prithvi Reddy, a pro-market founder member of the AAP, misunderstood me, too:
Thank you Arvind and Shalini, we have alienated a lot of people by branding entrepreneurs, traders and businessmen with a brush of suspicion. This is not acceptable.
You need honest people who can create wealth and resources. More so in a country with so much poverty .We should not mislead people into thinking we can live on love and fresh air!
I had to make them realise being in favour of the market was not the same as allowing lobbyism by an interested group:
Dear Arvind ji, with due respect, businessmen and workers may be on either side of the debate on labour rights. As far as the debate on quality and price of products and services is concerned, the people who are pitted against the businessmen are not workers, but consumers.
Second, traders' political forum and labours' political forum are not unheard of. My question was whether there will ever be a political forum to protect consumers' rights.
If there is any negativity in my query, it's because of a pattern I
have seen through the world history of governance and party
management. It's NOT because I suspect the people who have formed the Vyapar Udyog Mandal are foul.
...
The negative impression about us that our detractors spread is not that we are anti-business; it is that we are anti-market. The two are not the same. Being anti-market means being anti-competition/anti-consumer/anti-choice. This has been a history of ‘socialist’ governments: not transferring the whole industry to government, alright, but limiting access to it to a handful of fat businessmen who would never let new-age entrepreneurs in.
Recent history: You all may have learnt about Bengal politics from the media; I have been an eye-witness of Jyoti Basu dining and wining with Russi Mody. From old newspaper reports, many of which are archived in their websites, you will also get to know how deal after deal in West Bengal went to either the Tatas or the Goenkas.
The argument on definitions: On the other hand, capitalism, which apparently or allegedly we love to hate, does not limit competition to such a motley group. In fact, freedom of the market has never been tried in India. By strict definition, the likes of Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi are not capitalists; they are cronyists. When is cronyism possible? When government has the power of discretion in certain sectors. Capitalism means no government. So, if government has withdrawn from certain sectors, why will businessmen of those sectors approach it? If they don’t, how can there be cronyism?
Our position: By issuing several statements against FDI in retail — while also saying at a point of time that the AAP would conduct a nationwide referendum on the issue — we have bolstered the idea that the interests of a certain section of the business class will be protected, while the consumers will have less choices; in other words, the customers will be saddled by the monopoly or cartel of Goels, Guptas, Agrawals etc who buy, for example, dal at Rs 15 a kg from the farmers (who are forced into it by the APMC Act) and sell it to us at Rs 80-100 a kg. This is akin to protecting the interests of some 5 crore people of primarily a certain caste who own the mom-and-pop stores while not giving two hoots to the concerns of 10 crore odd OBCs and Dalits, who are employed without even a semblance of an appointment letter and standard employment benefits — but who could be absorbed in store-keeping, sorting, cold storage, transportation etc of a sophisticated retail chain — and 110 crore farmers and ordinary customers like us. This indicates that the pressure of that lobby, which is known to suffer from a phobia or paranoia of foreigners*, has already started working on us even before we have reached anywhere near forming a government.
* [Refer to the case of Ramesh Chauhan, then owner of Parle Soft Drinks, who rushed to Atlanta to sell off his leading brand Thums Up (then with a market share of 66%) to the Coca Cola Company, after suffering a nervous breakdown by the sight of Pepsi’s arrival. He did not even try to compete, despite such a massive market lead, a position from which he could have made life miserable for Pepsi!]
Where we are right but must calibrate our response: Of course, international retailers like Walmart and genetic crop sellers like Monsanto are evil. You are wholly right in condemning them. But they are not the only players around. Please do not throw the baby out with the bathwater. And I have no love lost for the foreigners. But why aren't our businessmen improving the sector? Because no businessman does that without feeling the pressure of competition. Please raise issues like making business easier for them; reducing the rate of interest on borrowing, for instance. Please also secure local retailers’ business by demanding that their foreign counterparts cannot operate on a floor area of less than, say, 5,000 sq ft. This would rule out the space for franchisees that can play on the scale of our local players; the big players will then not pose a threat to the small ones as no one rushes to a big departmental store, look for a parking space for the car, every day to buy grams of turmeric, cumin, coriander, or a few kilos of vegetable, meat etc. Also force the government to review and increase the limit of in-sourcing from 30% to 70%, which must be audited every year rather than the current practice of doing it once every five years that gives the bigger retailers a long rope for manipulation.
Measures such as these will keep all the three sections — 5 crore traders, 10 crore employees and 110 crore consumers — happy.
Electoral concerns versus ethics: We cannot ride roughshod over the last section of Indians (despite their huge numbers) just because they are not united and do not have a political platform, while the united minority may serve as a vote-bank and, possibly, also our financiers (the BJP will claim big shares of these pies, mind you)! Most importantly, the modern, urbane, educated youth that made the Jan Lokpal movement a stupendous success, who understand and appreciate the economics I have explained above, and who are appearing unsure about our intentions of late, will return to our fold.
The party’s patriarch, Shanti Bhushan, also father of Prashant and Shalini, thought of cooling down the discourse. On 12 May, he sent me quite a sensible mail:
There is no essential conflict between industrialists, traders, workmen and consumers. All of them are required for a good economy. An industrialist has to be assured of a reasonable return on his investments. A trader also renders important services to the community and has to be assured reasonable profits for his efforts and risks. A workman has to have good wages that will assure him a good standard of life which would enable him to provide a reasonably comfortable life for his family and good education for his children. The consumer is also entitled to be treated fairly and not to be taken for a ride by any other stakeholder. It is the duty of the state to play a proactive role and arrange all this by a proper exercise of its legislative and administrative powers. This would be true governance.
The locus standi of Shalini Gupta is curious. She was often the first to respond to my mails, while she was not even a member of the party. She would poke her nose in the party affairs because Kejriwal entertained her intrusion. She was introduced to the party as an ‘expert in organisational matters’, though her bigger claim to inclusion was certainly the fact that she was Bhushan’s sister. An undeniable proof of this being a Khaas aadmi’s party!”

That was the last time members of the political affairs committee took interest in being answerable. I could have continued with the party despite all my interventions getting rejected one by one if the high command had at least left this channel of communication open.


NC member from Indore, Madhya Pradesh, Prahlad Pandey says, “Internal democracy in the AAP is weak,” adding, “But for the sake of Delhi elections, we have to keep mum.”


He is distressed by the fact that when his team put in place a full-fledged State unit across the districts, and expressed the will to contest in the Assembly elections, they were told by the high command that they couldn't participate in elections unless teams were formed up to the booth level! "This was a target not even Delhi, with the whole party's focus on it, could achieve, and our MP is much larger than the national capital," Pandey laments. The whole team was dejected.


Evidently, the party that cries about the need for decentralisation from the rooftops does not feel the need to decentralise its own power structure first.


Several other founder and active members of the party say they will raise this issue within the organisation after the polls. Expect mass-scale resignations, too.


Sarita Jain from Jaipur pleaded with this writer desperately to stop making any noise before the elections. “सर, बस दो दिन और रुक जाइए (please hold it for just two more days),” she said, assuring me that all the NC members will raise the issue of lack of internal democracy after the Delhi elections. Enamoured with Kejriwal’s ‘integrity’, Jain could not relate to the experience of my close encounters with the AAP national convener that I shared with her over the phone.


Those who have left disagree. Kothari says, “This party is cheating the 120 crore plus people of the country. Their agenda is no longer what we had set out in this journey for, responding to the call by Anna.”


I think as much. And, to me, not opening up now means cheating all those people we had convinced to vote for the party. The party was worth supporting when it was a means to lead the country to brighter days in the future; when it has ceased to be any different, there is no moral obligation on the righteous members to safeguard its interests.


“The AAP is now dominated by the कचड़ा (garbage) of the Congress, BJP, BSP, SP etc. Contrary to the party’s claim that these were good people who were feeling suffocated in bad parties, they are all rejects of those parties,” thunders Kothari.


Citing the example of Asaram Bapu, whom he calls “Aish-o-Aaraam Bapu” (saint of lavishness and indulgence), he says this is an age where saints can turn sinners; sinners cannot turn saints. The era of Ratnakar-to-Valmiki transformation is long gone, he asserts.


This contention gets an overwhelming support from the Uttarakhand unit. They suspected misappropriation of the donations collected for relief after flash floods at Kedarnath. That was several months ago. It is inexplicable why they did not howl in protest. A few merely resigned from the respective positions in the State unit that they had been appointed to. The actions did not cause even a flutter at the Kaushambi headquarters of the party.


Vijay Paliwal from Kota, Rajasthan, who is still in the party, says, “Not even 2 per cent of genuine people are left in the party. The leaders of this party are surrounded by a coterie that keeps feeding them with wrong feedback.”


A thinking activist has no place in this party, Paliwal says, citing the manner in which Sisodia reacted to the news of resignation of Nutan Thakur from Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, who left the party after witnessing that it was reacting to a sting operation exactly the way older parties that the AAP defames as corrupt do: Shooting the messenger.


They did not bother even when the matter was no longer intellectual. The first time many members and volunteers suspected the leaders were up to something fishy was in September. A former member of the Congress, Deshraj Raghav, had taken up membership of the AAP the previous month. And he was now the party’s candidate from Uttam Nagar.


He was a corrupt man, suspected the local volunteers. They tried to persuade the Singh-led team to change the candidate. The allegation against him was that he illegally owned several ration shops.


The issue first caught my attention when supporters of the BJP went the allegation go viral on Twitter. I saw some AAP supporters pleading Raghav’s innocence forwarding this report in The Hindu.


That was funny. The report clearly cited the Lokayukta saying that the chief minister and food & supplies minister could not be dragged into this case. The AAP supporters were, however, touting this as a clean chit to the accused!


Such utter stupidity of the party’s fan base was witnessed again in November. The Election Commission, following a sting operation on eight candidates and members of the party, observed that conducting and airing sting operations during an election season did not violate the model code of conduct. The fans took the observation around the town claiming the commission had found these targets of the sting innocent!


This case was actually more serious. Until the Election Commission snubbed them, the party leaders were making the same claim on television, in tweets and Facebook updates.


Back to l’affaire Raghav, I asked the party leadership on 22 September how I could defend our position. A copy each of the mail reached Kejriwal, Sisodia, Bhushan, Yadav, Gupta, Singh and Rai. None responded. The next day I heard Sisodia and Vishwas say on two Hindi language channels that the charges were baseless.


That was not enough for us. How was it baseless? How could we explain it to the innumerable people who were raising uncomfortable questions? Why, instead of a detailed clarification, the spokespersons, when they finally opened their mouths after initial reluctance, just said that the PAC had examined all testimonials of Raghav and that all allegations were baseless. Could such a statement inspire confidence of the cadre? Doesn't it sound like an S Gurumurthy giving a clean chit to a Nitin Gadkari (following allegations about his Purti Group)?


Within a day, complaints from the Uttam Nagar workers of the AAP spread like wildfire among the rest of the cadre. They alleged that more-than 2/3rd majority of active members with voting rights had rejected all the candidates proposed for the seat. Then some of them were removed from the party and some new were brought in, which was followed by a fresh round of internal election that saw Raghav emerge as the candidate. Sanjay Singh, seen and believed by all to be the party’s campaign manager in Delhi, denied the charge.


How could the case against Raghav before the Lokayukta be the political rivals' conspiracy? The case was initiated much, much before the accused joined the AAP. It is true that Sharma and Raghav have been mutual enemies for about a decade, but the origin of the fight, as they local residents report, was too petty to be relevant in big-time politics; the two reportedly fought over letting out a neighbourhood park for the purpose of a wedding ceremony some 10 years ago.


Rather than coming clean on the affair, the party pushed a bunch of sycophants ahead for defence. It was not competent enough to ward off the disturbing questions. A frustrated Lal of the party’s IT team thundered on Facebook. He said those who were not satisfied by the one-word clarification — “baseless” — by the spokesmen could leave the party.


That infuriated the volunteers and supporters. Many among the latter deserted the party for ever. Those from the former group, including active members who had tried every internal mechanism to force a change in the decision of the 'high command', started protesting publicly. They sat on strike near the Uttam Nagar Metro station. Immediately, all leaders of the party joined a chorus with Singh to vilify the protesters. They were touted as agents of the Congress or the BJP!


This counter-allegation from the party was untenable. Even if the charge was true, it was the party leadership that had paved the way for it. If Raghav could come from another party, why couldn’t others? And if the charge against Raghav made him loyal to the party, how could the protests by workers make them spies and saboteurs?


Another man who is seen once in a blue moon in the party’s Facebook photographs, whom I do not wish to name because no one can relate to him, began disturbing me with late night calls since then, trying to convince me the party was blameless. That evening I told him his explanation had no import; the allegation was too serious to be not handled officially; only a detailed press release and more detailed explanations from spokespersons on television would do.


Minutes later, copies of Raghav’s affidavit were uploaded on the party’s Facebook page. It, however, raised more questions than answers.


On the one hand, the party was saying that the accused had for long convinced it of his innocence. On the other, under our intense pressure, when he was forced to submit an affidavit claiming to be clean on 25 September, the date on the document was 25 September, too!


Moreover, most pages of the affidavit did not bear his signature or the notary’s stamp. Then, he swore by his children that he was innocent, which was not legal phraseology that could find its way to the affidavit. Is "मैं अपने बच्चों की क़सम खाता हूँ" the language of a legal document?


It could well be that the BJP’s Achal Sharma was trying to frame him by producing an old response to his RTI application that showed several shops against his name. Further, it is true that he owns no ration shop now. However, his submission (on oath) that those shops belonged to his siblings — with whom he claimed he had had no relations for the last 30 years — was false. The fact as told by residents of his neighbourhood is, he returned all the shops in 2009. This meant that the old RTI response Sharma was bandying about was true as of 2009, but that Raghav has no ration shops was true as of 2013. On the basis of the facts of 2009, he is certainly culpable of perjury: an affidavit is a statement on oath, and he had lied in it.


The question the Lokayukta posed to Raghav during the hearing on 27 September is disturbing us all. If the Congress's Mukesh Sharma is a dubious character who is (another among the dramatis personnae) conspiring against the accused, as the defenders have been alleging, and as has been alleged by Raghav, too, what kind of a character remains a close associate of a dodgy fellow for 30 long years?


Finally, the matter was hardly of Raghav's guilt or innocence. It was the unseemly sight of the whole party leadership coming up in his brazen defence. Why was the party leadership adamant on his candidacy, knowing well that an election is a battle of perceptions? Does a man who indulges in petty fights in his neighbourhood further the AAP’s brand image or value? This question made many workers suspect some money had exchanged hands on the top of the organisation. Everybody still believed Kejriwal was spotless. They, therefore, thought the persons who had been what it seemed corrupted by Raghav must be deemed indispensable by Kejriwal because of which he was helpless, because of which he couldn’t withdraw Raghav’s candidature or take action against those who were allegedly bribed by him.


The protesters in Uttam Nagar ultimately went on to float their independent candidate from the constituency.


It was not always that the high command was wrong. Auto-rickshaw drivers, who had come all out in support of the AAP, spreading the party’s message across the city by carrying its posters on the rear of the vehicles, are now angry because their peer, Bhaag Singh, was asked to step down as the candidate from Kalkaji.


This writer received an explanation for the action from a members of the screening committee. The auto-rickshaw driver was raising bills worth Rs 20,000 per week against expenses he had reportedly incurred in feeding fellow campaigners. When the party said it could not afford such high expenditure on food, Bhaag Singh said it was nothing; he should also be compensated for the dehadi (daily wage) he had been missing on account of the campaign that is keeping him away from his livelihood. This temperament was certainly not becoming of an AAP candidate. He had to be removed.


This still raises the question, if the party is not ready to support the poor in their political campaign — even after receiving generous donations worth crores from well-wishers — how can it ever do politics of the aam aadmi?


Insularity to alerts: Early November, I alerted the party by writing to Kejriwal, Sisodia, Singh, Yadav and Prakash about a possible attempt to sabotage its chances in Wazirpur. (The first four appeared to be in control of the campaign, and the last was in the screening committee that had short-listed the possible candidates from all constituencies):

This is to alert you about a possible attempt of sabotage in the said constituency.
As you know, our NGO Youth for Democracy, which had joined the Aam Aadmi Party in October 2012 when the party was yet to be named, is pretty active in the Wazirpur area, especially in its slum and resettlement colonies. I just received a call from Y4D's workers in the area that our party's activities are almost non-existent in their neighbourhoods, contrary to our high visibility in the rest of Delhi. They are suspecting that our candidate Praveen Kumar Sobti 'Bheem', who once worked in the BJP under their present candidate Mahendra Nagpal, projected his candidacy to you to actually help his former party where his real loyalty lies. They allege that he is deliberately going soft on the campaign so that we don't cut into the BJP's votes.
Please investigate the matter and take necessary action based on your findings.
Neither did any of the five recipients of the mail acknowledge the mail, nor was ‘Bheem’ interrogated.

Haughtiness: The party did not care even when people volunteered to help without merging their organisations with the AAP. In the beginning of the year, followers of Baba Ramdev were complaining of Kejriwal’s attitude manifest in his belief that he could win Delhi single-handedly. People like me did not find their grouse realistic. None of the other systemic change proponents was politically visible enough in the city-State to be taken as a serious contender for alliance and seat-sharing.


It was problematic when the AAP’s IT team and cheerleaders turned puffed-up. On 1 October, LSP head Narayan issued a statement from Hyderabad (Andhra Pradesh) that he appreciated the alternative platform the AAP had successfully created in the national capital. So that the voters who were looking for an alternative to the BJP and Congress did not get divided among parties that were promising change, his party would not contest in Delhi; the AAP had his party’s moral support.


The message was unambiguous. No way did it sound like a statement from a seat sharer. Without getting the message right, however, the IT team again jumped into the fray denying there was any alliance with the LSP. Members of the latter were stunned. They had expected appreciation from the AAP for the fact that a man of repute was speaking positive of the Delhi experiment. Instead, their leader was made to look like lusting after some of the 70 Assembly seats in the capital!


Now I come to the issue of collapse of internal communication, which was observed in this regard as well.


On 14 November, I received a call from a rural leader from Haryana who wanted to mobilise people in support of the AAP in outer Delhi, where the locals could relate to him and were likely to heed to his request of voting overwhelmingly for the party. I texted Kejriwal immediately:

Advocate Satvir Singh, mobile number ***********, who has his own party in Haryana, wants to help AAP mobilize people and make them vote for us in Outer Delhi.
He supports all efforts of alternative politics. So he wants to support the AAP. He wields enough influence among the rural people of Delhi. But if our party is not interested, then he will field his own candidates in Outer Delhi.
There was no response from Kejriwal. I sent the same message to Durgesh Pathak who was heading the team of booth management. He acknowledged the text with an “ok”, but Advocate Singh was never contacted.

Epilogue: While it had become clear long ago that there was space in this party only for two kinds of people: Either you have to be a television star (like Yadav) or a famous lawyer (like Bhushan) to be in the decision-making group, or you have to be a mindless worker who does not care for political and economic policies. There was no place for a thinker who was not a star or a worker who also happened to be a thinking person.


However, one hope was holding me back. In one interview after another, Kejriwal said he was not wedded to any ideology, and that he would take solutions to problems from any source available: left or right. The whole world outside had by then declared the AAP as just another socialist party. But paying heed to their plaint, howsoever plausible, would have meant I was quitting on the basis of a perception (despite being in a better position than them to know what the party’s supreme leader actually believed in).


Scores of journalists had shared with me their unease when they witnessed, in 2011, Kejriwal making plans to manipulate the media. They said he was a wily politician and not a genuinely aggrieved Indian, who was moved by the plight of ordinary citizens at large, and so he thought of taking on the system, penetrating it and changing it. But, to me, the wronged lot making an effective political strategy against the wrongdoers was not wrong.


Dividing the people was, however, a different ballgame. And that was a facet of Kejriwal — fallout of the haste he was in to win Delhi in 2013 and New Delhi in 2014 — that I forever felt uncomfortable with. While having breakfast and dinner with him, and also during a few long drives with him, I had the opportunity to sneak into his mind.



Sudesh Verma with Bibhav, AAP's media manager
Kejriwal said, for example, while I drove him from Shadipur in west Delhi to his house in Kaushambi one night of June with Verma (the adjoining picture was taken that evening) in the car, how whipping up caste and religious sentiments was essential to victory in an election. But I had not entered the party as a stinger or some party’s agent who would switch a recorder on the moment he started speaking along divisive lines. Who would believe me if I said Kejriwal was casteist and communal? Anyway, this divisiveness disheartened me so much that I stopped on-field campaigns forthwith.

I resigned when the AAP manifesto left no room for speculation as to what direction the party was headed. It was a published document. And it showed he had taken no right-of-centre idea; all the measures proposed were either leftist or downright, impractical populist, belying his year-long promise of being open to rightist ideas as much as the leftist ones.


The problems I see in the manifesto:

  1. Lokayukta's jurisdiction: Unlike the Lokayukta Act of Uttarakhand for which the IaC had supported the then government of that State, the one that can be made in Delhi cannot offer relief to the residents of the national capital because most of its woes are due to corruption of Central Government employees who cannot be prosecuted by the Delhi Lokayukta.
  2. Secularism violated: interference in Wakf matters, incentives to small scale industries only when run by Muslims;
  3. Bad economics: (a) Kejriwal says some 'experts' gave a presentation to him after which he was convinced water could be distributed for free as, they told him, the Delhi Jal Board's profit was more than its cost. You profit only because people pay. If they don't, let alone profit, you will not even have income. (b) In the pre-manifesto campaign, the AAP never said that the users have to pay for the whole amount of water consumed if it exceeded 700 litres per connection per month. This is taking the people for a ride.
  4. Not much fund for welfare: The Union Government can move funds from draining, non-welfare sectors like Air India, ITDC hotels and sundry businesses to health and education. Where will the State Government of Delhi get the extra funds required for prioritising health and education?
  5. Labour laws inviolable: A muhalla sabha of Delhi cannot terminate the services of teachers of the local school found lax in duty.
  6. Fooling society: What will be the legal status of the women's commando force? What if one such neighbourhood troop kills a man it apprehends? What if one of these troops uses the authority to settle personal scores? Will the women 'commandos' enjoy immunity from prosecution? Will this force be sanctioned to a semi-State like Delhi at all by the Union Government?
  7. Compromising with corruption: Does the AAP approve of the bribes that exchanged hands that made Delhi's unauthorised colonies emerge? Is the party offering insurance to the dwellers of these dangerously built houses of substandard material, with live and badly insulated electric wires dangling over the heads?
  8. Not right: The only right-of-centre idea that Kejriwal had been speaking of for the past one year has not been included in the manifesto: drastically cutting taxes to make industry return to Delhi.
  9. Bowing to traders' lobby: If this party manages to form the government, it will realise the coffers are empty. Foreign Institutional Investors can flee any time. Delhi badly needs Foreign Direct Investment in the retail trade that cannot be withdrawn easily. More important, why should an AAP Government favour a small, monopolist, anti-competition trading class to the disadvantage of the large consumer class, more so when its apprehensions about Big Retail are unfounded?
  10. Unemployment: There is no roadmap to employment generation.
Resigning after 8 December, the date when the election results are declared — where I do not expect the party to win a good number of seats, let alone form the Delhi Government — would lead to a situation where I would be accused of issuing sermons to a loser. They would say the same policies would have been found good if the party had won. And if it manages to win a few seats, the party’s adversaries can equally say that I stuck to the power despite my ideological and principled opposition to its functioning style because I wanted a share of government power!

When I spoke of the haste that the party is in on Times Now, Yadav pretended not to understand the problem. He burst into some versical flourish that was plain rhetoric, lacking any substance. Anchor Arnab Goswami could not relate my reason of lack of internal democracy to the sting operation that he was more interested in debating that night. The fact is, if Kejriwal & Co had not been in such a hurry, there would not have been such members and electoral candidates in our midst who could be trapped by a sting operation where the stingers were dropping enough clues to suggest they were decoy and not real. More importantly, the proposals from the stingers were so indecent that further conversation with them should not have been entertained. Due to lack of inner party democracy, sensible members could not check the speed of the AAP's spread, as a result of which stupid as well as corruptible people have sneaked in.


I know, though I am an insignificant activist, this article would be touted as a reason for the party’s abysmal show at the polls. However, to the number of people I had persuaded to vote for the party, the message that I am no longer with the party must be reached. Now they are free to choose the party they think is the least evil out of the BJP, Congress and AAP. Creating a lesser evil was never my mission.


Observing things from a distance, Rahul Chimanbhai Mehta of the Right to Recall movement says, “The AAP is wasting thousands of crores of activist-hours by creating just one more party, which will be no different from the Congress.”


Scores of members of the AAP, frustrated by its style of functioning, are venting out their ire in private conversations. As and when they are ready to come out in the open, more quotes will be included in this account

65 comments:

Amrendra Kumar said...

This is the kind of reasoned Critique AAP needs. I could blame it to the rapid and haphazard growth of AAP. I am quite sure intra party institutions will evolve and improve.

awmyth said...

What took you so long? When less intelligent folks, like I, could see through Kejriwal and his AAP months ago.

Devendra Pratap Singh said...

Why did u write such a long post, most people will not read who come across your blog?

Anonymous said...

read it all. excellent article. I realized all this about 8 months ago. Their naxalite ideology is all but apparent. And I abhor it.

Anonymous said...

I too agree with you and support you. AAP supporters may not believe at this point but soon their ideas will be flop and they will come into more trouble, provided wise people like you have already left the team... so they will be no wise people to advise them and they will run into trouble. I sensed this when AAP stopped attacking congress and started attacking BJP, that their main intention is to come to power than fighting corruption. Because either they must have attacked BJP from the start or attacked congress too.but once they realised congress is out of the game they started attacking BJP. 2. was the muslim cleric's meeting and AK to my knowledge does not know how to reply or give any statements...

Alkesh Kansal said...

Dear Surajit ji
Once I also supported Anna Movement and participated at RL ground and donated rs 10000 even make my family and an NRI uncle to joint the movement who also donated rs 21000. But slowly after the creation of AAP we all staryed feeling the party going in wrong direction and it bcoming Proxy of left parties. Unlike others who feel AAP being B team of congis I feel it is B team of CPI/M. All craps like YY,PB,SS and GR are dominating and making non sense statements like Batla or Kashmir issue.
I spent almost 2 hrs to read ur each and every line u have written and agree with most of them. I wonder hw a party who is bashing others day in and day out is so untolerable to criticism. I find AAP supporters are the biggest trollers even bigger than cong n bjp.
Even once being the biggest fan of AK, I have started feeling that he doesnt have anything better than the leftist and u make my perceptions cm true.
Though I am an atheist yet I find NM best suited for country for being closest to be secular and his vision to take our country ahead. More ever India First mantra and his good governance model is immediate need of the country.

Richie Dhillon said...

Well written but far too long. I struggled to reach midway, and then gave up altogether. If you want people to actually read it, then you need to be more concise in presenting the facts. your method of writing is more suited for a book perhaps.

anuj sharma said...

God....I wouldn't have read such a huge account had it been not by you. I agree with most of your points as the party talking of democracy n decentralization knows little of it.what is more disturbing is incompetence of leader (leadership has never been developed)who claims of showing right path to Indian democracy n giving right direction to polity.
If everything you have written from point of no return is correct, n I believe it is, I nave no hesitation in saying that AAP is crawling towards slow n painful death....painful for many dreams. One more thing, now people of letters n words will have to think once again what leads to failure of agitations/movements by common men. From JP movement to VP Singh n now Anna andolan it has been story of great failures. Since people have started reacting it has become imperative to look beyond faith. wish you luck for future participation....

Anonymous said...

Please wait till the elections are done with. There will be many opportunities to take care of the issues you address here. But until then, this is a ray of hope, let's give it a fair chance!

आलोक said...

सुरजीत जी, आपका लेख पढ़ा। आपका यह कहना बिल्कुल सही है कि आईएसी के आंदोलन में शामिल होने वाले लोगों को भौतिकतावाद से उतनी आपत्ति नहीं है जितनी कि इस बात से कोफ़्त कि जहाँ वह तो सिर्फ़ लाखों कमा रहे हैं और उस कमाई पर टैक्स भी दे रहे हैं, वहीं नेता लोग अरबों रुपए डकार रहे हैं।

संक्षेप में ये लोग गाँधीवादी तो कतई नहीं हैं।

मुझे लगता है कि केजरीवाल जी के इरादे नेक हैं, लेकिन जल्द से जल्द प्रभावी होने के लिए, चुनाव जीतने के लिए कुछ भी करो वाली सोच आम आदमी पार्टी के रंगरूटों में दिखती है।

इस सोच के पीछे जड़ तो हमारा पढ़ाई लिखाई का तरीका है, जहाँ जैसे तैसे कर के नंबर लाओ औ नकल मारनी है तो भी मारो, बस पकड़े न जाओ - वाली नीति सफलता देती है।

आपका लेख पढ़ के मुझे नहीं लगता कि जो बदलाव भ्रष्टाचार विरोधी आंदोलन चाहता है वह इतनी जल्दी आ सकता है।

हाँ, आप अपने विश्लेषण के आधार पर बहुत कुछ सोचते और लिखते हैं, लेकिन यह ज्ञानचक्षु आम आदमी पार्टी के बच्चा फ़ालोअरों में नहीं हैं, यह अफ़सोस की बात है।

अगर कोई यह कहे कि बिना मेहनत के और बलिदान के कुछ मिल जाएगा, तो यह हास्यास्पद है, अच्छी चीज़ आने में समय लगता है और उसको पाने के बाद मिलने वाले सुकून का कोई जवाब नहीं है।

चुनाव के पहले ये लेख छाप कर आपने बहुत अच्छा किया, क्योंकि बाद में छापने पर इसका गलत अर्थ लगाया जाता। उम्मीद है कि अगर आप से कभी मुलाकात हो सकेगी।

Bharat Sharma said...

This is simply brilliant analysis of everything that is wrong with AAP.

Organisation building takes a lot of time and sacrifice - something that Mr. Kejriwal seems to lack.

Dipankar Sharma said...

Freedom Movement of India resulted in Nehru but Mahatama Gandhi never joined Politics moreover wanted to dissolve congress.....

JP Movement resulted in Mulayam Singh, Laloo Prasad Yadav & Nitish Kumar BUT Loknayak Jaya Prakash Narayan never joined Politics moreover wanted to dissolve Janta Party/Dal.....

Now India Against Corruption has yielded Kejriwal BUT Anna never joined Politics moreover wanted to dissolve AAP.....

Why I don’t see AAP as an ideal party to vote for because of the following reason -
1) Started as a party against Corruption but then got into Vote-Bank Politics LIKE Tauqeer Raza, Batla House Encounter, Imam Bhukhari, Kashmir Issue, Naxal.....

2) Accused Cong & BJP for corruption but today have 15 candidates (Read: All Rich Candidates) from BJP & Cong out of 70 in Delhi.....

3) Kejriwal just cant take any criticism, has accused Legislature, Execution, Judiciary & Media as corrupt but still says he respect democracy.....

4) He has done several exposes on un-verified facts, best ex have been expose with help of Sanjeev Bhatt (His wife a Congress Leader) against Modi which later was found out to be bogus, but important take from that expose were
a) He clubbed with Sanjeev Bhatt
b) The facts were all wrong
c) The whole expose was done 10 days before Guj assembly election 2012

5) Why majority from IAC are not with him or his AAP viz, Anna, Kiran Bedi, Swami Ramdev, Aseem Trivedi, Swami Agnivesh, Rakesh Bajaj, Mahiesh Giri, Gen VK Singh.....

6) What is people like Binayak Sen (Convicted by HC) doing in AAP.....

7) Why do they Abuse so much, why always so hyper, it looks pot is hotter than its content.....

Why are they trying to get votes by using the Public Anger, as a party one should use its ideology to get votes not by public anguish.....

9) Whenever there is anything against AAP or Kejriwal they call it as conspiracy against them, WHY?

10) Whenever anyone accuses Kejriwal or AAP of anything they 1st put counter allegation that others are also same, if everyone is same including U then why should we vote you.....

Rest all depends on wisdom of people who they wish to vote.....

Surajit Dasgupta said...

1. Why so long?
Because I had to tell a story spanning two years. If I had made it brief and concise, the answers to the questions I would have to give would make it long in any case.

In fact, as more members, past and present, of the AAP open up, this account is only going to get longer.

2. Agent of the BJP?
One wonders why Arvind Kejriwal and other leaders of the party did not investigate the antecedents of 'Bheem' if they are not agents of the BJP. If they had investigated honestly, they would have reached the same conclusion: that he has been planted in the AAP to sabotage it from within.

I had been warning the party's national convener since 29 October 2011 that the situation was going to go out of his control due to massive infiltration from established parties. Rather than putting checks in place, the screening committee offered tickets to all turncoats.

As for the last sentence in the post, it is a quote; it is not a statement by me. However, Rahul C Mehta is not wrong. The policies of the AAP, ranging from its flawed interpretation of secularism to offer of freebies, resemble those of the Congress, if not those of the Samajwadi Party.

Finally, seeing an agency of another at play when one's mistakes are pointed out reflects shallowness of intellect. Get over the Congress-BJP fixation. Get over partisan politics. Debate ideology.

Sanjeev Sabhlok said...

Surajit, the fact is that a leopard doesn't change his spots, and Arvind has clearly been socialist (he was never 'neutral' - there is no such thing) from the very beginning.

I agree people should be free to choose between the least evil of the three options in Delhi (Congress/BJP/AAP). This is, however, not an option for the entire country for the next five years.

For 2014 we need to work for a strong liberal political party at the national level, or a front that promotes strong governance and maximum freedom.

I am hoping Swarna Bharat Party will be registered soon and it can get its act together (by getting good leaders).

harsh raghuvanshi said...

I appreciate the courage you have shown admitting the mistake you committed in supporting this party of few Individuals. I takes a lot of strength to admit your mistake. However you must have understood that Kejriwal wanted to become a part of Lokpal and have extra constitutional power from day one when he proposed that individual having international awards of repute should become a part of Lokpal. The whole concept is shoddy. The Indian Penal Code has all the provisions and power of weed out corruption from the society and the need for special legislation is a eye wash. Will surely contact you in near future. Please do this country a favor by writing a book, no matter how small over your tryst with Aam Aadmi Party. I will personally finance to get it printed and distributed before the general election of 2014. Country needs to know the truth.

Anonymous said...

I read the blog in the style of “speed reading”. The sense I got was that while Surjit was right is raising some objections on the “mistakes” that AAP was making, he was treated with reasonable respect.

He seems to have suffered from a feeling of not having been given a bigger role inspite of his being a more competent thinker.

In a collective endeavor like a fledgling political party that AAP is, he was writing too many emails expressing his disagreements. He did receive some very sensible replies but for the sake of this blog he has taken a position that his views were not dealt with adequately.

So he left AAP. Not a big deal ! It would have been better if he had continued as part of the think tank even if others were not following his line.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

As a matter of policy, anonymous commentators are not allowed on my blog, but I published the one above because this notion needs to be seriously contested.

If it were about me, I would not have
(1) been with the people who were demanding number of office bearers more than or equal to the number of States of the country;
(2) taken the pain of quoting so many former and present members, which shows a collective angst.
___

Why "too many" -- are five or six too many? -- mails were written has been explained. Your leaders attend phone calls only of members of the elite club, and do not inform (let alone invite) others of policy meets.
___

Anybody who has known me for a considerable period of time would not accuse me of wanting anything for myself. That I was upset with my closest friend for being cross over non-inclusion in the NE is mentioned in the post.

The result of exclusion of any of the 300 thinker-activists who were dumped in the NC is for all to see. Now you have a party wanting to drag India back to the pre-1980s' Indira Gandhi years. And those born in the post-PV Narasimha Rao era, the party's main cheerleaders, don't have the foggiest idea what their party is up to.

Anonymous said...

Kejriwal and his intellectually vacuous inner circle have converted a powerful anti-corruption movement of Anna Hazare into a political party whose practices leave no doubt that it is a B team of the congress. The most obnoxious thing about AAP is its pseudo-secularism and anti-national attitude starkly illustrated by its pandering to anti-national elements in the minority community.

Anonymous said...

I am no supporter of any party. But what you write can be summed up in one line "why didn't you do what I said". That's ridiculous. This country is full of philosophers. Suppose one day you became a leader in your own right, all your ideologies and conviction will be mocked at as you do.

vivek said...

I second Surajit as even we (a group of AAP volunteers) experienced a similar attitude while we tried out best to point of "mistakes" or course corrections.

Later, some AAP volunteers tried to convince us saying that AAP is a "baby" and a new party, but I did not buy that argument because you can train a baby, he she listens to you and you have every right to "scold and mould" him for his better future. But AAP seems to act like an overgrown adult, not at all responsive and willing to listen to the intelligentsia, almost ignoring them.

Though I still feel that AAP is better than all political alternatives we have currently, I wish AAP core team realises that the very people who took to streets leaving their plush jobs are different from idle "chaploos" supporters who joined AAP as they had nothing better to do.

Anonymous said...

Well I agree with you that there is a lack of institutional maturity/processes/democracy in the year old party. It may be partly because it is not a priority over winning the Delhi election, which will be a litmus test.

So as I see you(and more people can, including me) have main dissent on Secularism and FDI, But due to lack of proper forum and organization one can not conclude what will be universally(majority) accepted position on these issues. This will evolve with time as party matures. For now you are also not sure if your position can be accepted by majority. We need to respect everyone's position and we can be with the party even if its official position differs from individual's. We need to make a compromise for the greater good.

The big question is the intentions and the political will. No one is perfect and everyone has the right to express/stick to/defend one's position.

Although you highlight the problems within AAP, but negative parts of this writing shows your unhappiness against AAP because you were not heard/noticed and didn't get a role and responsibility which complements your talent and ability[one of which is you are a rational progressive thinker :)].

What disappoints me the most is the way you ridiculed the party by saying "Khaas Aadmi", discredit all its hard working volunteers, supporters, donors and leader as intellectually challenged. You were unhappy with the logistics, lack of organization, clear roles and responsibility, selection of people to lead some departments. But what can you expect from a year old part? Interestingly you wrote that volunteers do menial jobs like maintaining registers for visitors, attending phone calls and arranging for guests’ accommodation and people like Kejriwal, Bhushan, Manish Sisodia, Gopal Rai, Kumar Vishwas, Sanjay Singh et al do not do these jobs. First of all with due respect no job is menial and no one(rational thinking person including you) expects these people to do jobs like stated above. May be if you think again it was your anger against AAP leaders which made you write this.

A lot of people(including me) don't have deep understanding of philosophical ideologies and is limited to what is written on Wikipedia. As you gave your stand on the issues, I can also have mine. They may be wrong or right, same or different from you but I am entitled to express and stick to them unless after a long discussion I am influenced by someone and change them.

I will take the example of FDI stand. I somewhat agree to Shanti Bhushan's stand. But FDI in retail is very complex and controversial issue. On one hand it will attract new investment, create new jobs and make market more competitive, on the other hand it can hurt existing small retailers and may be farmers and small manufacturers too once big retail chain has monopoly. We should not blindly follow the west and should see more innovative, inclusive solutions. There can be long debates on it, I also sometime get confused and change stand after reading some articles or watching some speeches.

To sum up, it is very good and positive to highlight mistakes and part if you differ in basic ideology but it does not mean that all other associated with the party are intellectually challenged and supporting blindly. In the end I think in India politics is always choosing the lesser evil!

I hope AAP wins the Delhi election and then take steps to improve its organizational strengths so that good talented people(like yourself) can flourish, brainstorm, influence and lead. It will happen but will take some time.


Abhijit said...

Dear Surjeet,
In the last line you mentioned about Rahul Mehta and RTR movement. Mr. Meta seems to have a lot to offer than AAP. He has already designed legal draft for the proposed laws. His proposals like TCP, RTR and Jury system make a lot sense than the manifesto of any political party.
Even if one disagrees Mr. Mehta on an issue. He is leading a draft based movement instead of a traditional leader based movement.
I would seriously request you to go through his proposals. I hope that this time you won't be disappointed.

Anonymous said...

Thanks you Mr Dasgupta. Not only for permitting my anonymous post but also taking time to respond. I am impressed by your seriousness of purpose.

Best regards

Adarsh Tripathy said...

i was stumped by this article...and though I read it with patience but still I cannot believe this person AK is so dangerous to the society...and how come he has such an evil plan and we the ppl of india don't know it and neither media is showing the way u showed his picture....great article and a must read for everybody

Surajit Dasgupta said...

"what you write can be summed up in one line 'why didn't you do what I said'. That's ridiculous"

I agree. Which is why the political affairs committee and the national executive should have been ELECTED, not NOMINATED. Who is an "I" specialist is evident.

So many quotes in the narrative and then so many comments endorsing the view all point to one fact: Arvind Kejriwal and his coterie function like a club, not a political party that wishes to transform India.

Opposition to any criticism of the party comes from those who know zilch about the way a country is run. I just saw them circulate on Twitter a poster that promises an enhanced judiciary, price cuts, conferring of statehood to oneself, and every other poll promise that can make an entry into Ripley's Believe It Or Not!

Its fan base's knowledge void is the AAP's greatest strength.

Sanjay Gupta said...

Congratulating you on the excellent work and you have presented so cleanly and well. I am a Surgeon in City of Indore and developed love for AAP. Very soon I realized what ever you have written the document

Reference to Mr Deshraj Raghav I had sent s a mail to Mr Yogendra Yadav and to contacts@aamaadmiparty.org saying that circumstantial evidence was that his IT return shows family's annual income of about Rs 10 Lakhs and I also earn simillar amount of money. But I am not able to afford the amount of Gold that he has in his neck. Even if you go through his IT return he adds a property of Rs 1 crore every 2 - 3 years which is more than what he earns !!!

Amarendra said...

1) The entire tone of the article is EVERYTHING I SAID WAS *NOT* HEARD and hence this is KHAS AADMI PARTY! With ego as yours around, I seriously doubt you can make *ANY* movement succeed! Sad, because I do consider you as an intellectual genuis! But to make THINGS ACTUALLY WORK, some other skills are required - hope you pick those soon!

2) While intellectually you may have valid opinions and grouse, do you realize that this report of yours is also an attempted political weapon and aimed to weaken Anti-Corruption movement?

3) You may have dreamt of a better alternative which you might reveal in future. But, as of now, at THIS VERY MOMENT, what is the alternative? Robert Vadra? Yeddurappa? Sheila Dixit? Nitin Gadkari? Whereas, given a chance, AAP might still course-correct. AAP claims they welcome criticism so you could always have held them accountable after elections. Hiding behind intellectual complusions, isnt this running away!

4) The best thing about AAP STILL is that you could have remained an insider and continued to keep them on a tight leash with your critical views. But, now your decision to leave AAP and document this "clean linen" is simply EASY FUEL for INC and BJP.

5) I think you have grossly misread the situation. You are confusing or even collapsing (as in mixing) your disagreements with policies with distasteful or outlandish election tactics. Unfortunately, AAP did not get created with the "luxury" of 10-20 year gestation period - that is the kind of time it will take if AAP works at the pace you suggest. India defintely needs a "intellectually perfect on paper" party which even if gets formed will have a long-gestation - we can focus on building that party when we get to creating that "perfect" political party or a people's movement.

6) Sadly, while you may have resigned and written because of intellectual compulsions or shortcomings, the end result is that you have provided yourself as a FOOD for massively pervasive corrupt leaders and unscrupulous elements in mainstream parties. You cant say you were not aware of this and you have to take responsibility for this. This is the 99% result of all your effort and grievance.

7) I would imagine that this kind of chaos in any "natural" progression of any movement. Do you think a "perfect" movement or revolution is possible? If yes, I am in! Let us go ahead and conceptualize and build a perfectly disruptive movement!

8) On a positive note, however, this might yet be another good document to show WHY AAP is great! I doubt even THIS MUCH debate happens in other parties where seats are simply sold! If somehow AAP gets some significant importance in India's contemporary history then your document might become be a valuable source for researchers!

Nithin.S said...

This fall of AAP is very disheartening to say the least. For many like me who are hundreds of Kilometers away from Delhi but have been interested in the political happenings in Delhi and India, who finally thought that there is one alternative that may finally bring systematic changes, it is a big let down to know that AAP has turned into another Congress.

Sanjeev Sharma said...

I hope that whatever venture you delve into, don't sabotage it when you plan to leave it. You are an intellectual force and you were a part of this party and still thousands of people have hope in it. Personally, I have lot of faith in you. But, somehow, your blog came as a surprise to me. If something was so dear to you, how come you hate it so much now? If these issues and points bothered you so much, an intellectual approach would have been to "agree to disagree", but you are ranting about it as if you lost something in this endeavor. You had a role to play, a duty to fulfill, and now you regret everything that you were part of? I hope someday you come up with truly democratic party on your own and ensure there is no dissident and cry-baby in it. Would love to see that.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

With quite a few critics of the critique diagnosing "ego" as my 'disease', it seems paperback editions of cheap Western literature have become quite a craze on our cities' pavements. It is precisely to pre-empt this superficial criticism that this blogger took the pain of interviewing so many victims of the AAP leadership, and quoting them.

As for 'sabotage', the said party's palace intrigues are difficult to decipher. Why no action was taken against 'Bheem' despite proof of his being a BJP agent remains a mystery. Why turncoats were not asked to build the organisation and thus establish their commitment to the ideology first is another question that must be asked to Kejriwal & Co. Why were they handed election tickets right away?

It is unfortunate that some people consider saving a party, even when it has dumped its mission and mandate, more important than saving the country from the disaster that party's way of functioning, policy and promised programmes can push it into. Just for the sake of making something new succeed?

The timing of resignation, the medium of communication chosen to amend policies and actions, the reason why it cannot be ego, the realisation that there is no way non-star thinkers' views will ever be accepted by the 'high command', how the party ceased to be any different from others in competition, how India has seen such attempts before, how the leader's intention and intellect and not the time he had in hand are responsible for the mess he pushed the party into... So far, I have not received a single question that has not been answered already in the blog-post in anticipation. Compulsive critics will do well to study thoroughly the subject they itch to pass a judgement on.

bt said...

still cant believe you people...the man who is fighting for us still ur critising him..... he left his most respectable job just to help us, just to eradicate the corrupt system....cant belive critisizing him like a coward......if u losers think he is wrong then come forward and fight for change... before blaming or criticising looke what you are.....
AK IS A GREAT MAN AND HE WILL ALWAYS BE A GREAT MAN.....FOR WHOLE INDIA....

Sanjay Gupta said...

rsAlthough the results of election will be declared on 8th of Dec 2013, but the exit poll can be taken as indication of what is happening. I would tend to call it a poor show if you claimed that you would get 44 seats but land around 15 seats. These are the reflection of hard work put by a large number of people / workers who devoted a lot of time in lust for getting a honest Governance. Probably if the feelings of people like Mr Shyam Gupta ( Uttam Nagar) , Mr Surajit Das Gupta and many such volunteers who where putting in hard work time, energy and money could be channelized without looking a winnability factor. Probably the number could be achieved. Honesty can still take the test of time, but then it has to be ABSOLUTE HONESTY. I hope and pray that AAP either understands and implements this today or we have a new outfit to do the same .

GD said...

Surajit,

Wonderful post and this is coming from a Modi supporter.Even though I disagree with most of your idealogical differences with BJP and Modi but you have certainly gained my respect. Next time when I debate with you on such differences, I would believe your thoughts (on a given subject) are driven by your strong ideology and not just by blind support to a cause, party or individual.

Like all Indians, I used to also support IAC when the anti-corruption movements started. It was so pure ! it resonated with all strata, I remember the incident where villagers in remote western odisha game to streets with the india flag -it still gives me goosebumps. It has THAT reach and respect.

With the subsequent formation of AAP, I was still hopeful but later I just could not support AAP - You can blame it partially on my anti-congress sentiments but that given, I just could not differentiate how it was different from Congress and to an extent Left.

The symbolism of topi, the holier than thou attitude, the empty high voltage rhetoric without detailing the how part, weird notion of secularism and inability to take in criticism of any kind, All this reminded me of certain Congress. They initially started attacking congress and then slyly equated BJP with it and then they finally moved on to attack only and only BJP made me suspicious of their actual intent.

They have some good leaders - But some of them gives me my daily timepass dose really - shazia ilmi and kumar vishwas make me giggle all day with their absurd rhetoric. Yogendra Yadav seems too good to be true. His background of leftism is well known. At this age, anyone who pretends to be the pinnacle of holiness is a clear fraud. Kejriwal is a proper politician nothing more can be said.. he is more symbolic than anyone else. I some times feel he wears a oversized shirt just because it makes me a more "aam" admi.

The only thing that truly scares me is its followers but then if we can be fooled by Congress by 60 years, we can be easily fooled by AAP , Anyways their intentions were noble when they started. I hope some of its truly honest supporters, leaders question their leaders and do a course correction.

Thank you !

eternalmonotony said...

First up, have to confess i CANNOT read that huge a rant in full The writer of that blog sounds too much like a friend turned foe due to not getting his due..and hence reduces its reliability quite a bit. But yes, it does get an insight into AAP functioning - and anyways being just a party grown out a movement, and with no history in politics, and also from some interviews they have given, it is clear they havent thought much about what to do - how to run a government. And they dont have an "ideology". Dont need a bitter blogger to prove that. Now the question is how bad that is - can a set of well meaning and non-corrupt and eintelligent/fficient (lets assume) people run a government - hiring technical help where needed?

Also, I'm not sure if the writer has ever worked in a start up or has any idea of organizational dynamics. A small struggling group trying to grow quickly. Most such setups are indivdual personality driven, with a few strong people - not always democratic..or rather bureaucratic as the writer wants (My emails werent adequately answered..due process wasnt followed blah blah).That also shows in the writers explanation about "painstakingly interviewing the victims and quoting them" - elaborate bureaucracy kind work. That's the way start ups work..grow up. I'd be impressed if this comment appears.

Lastly, results generally speak for themselves - atleast about efficiency of campaigning (before you start saying the reality will be out after governance failure). Given the rants about poor planning, poor website, poor social media blah blah...results show otherwise.

Sanjeev Sharma said...

So they say, be careful what you wish for, it might some true. For Aam Aadmi Party's excellent showing, there were geniuses like you. Your effort had already built sand castles that could withstand the waves of electoral politics. It also means that you have a intellectual power that you must put to use responsibly. Even if you stay a critic of AAP, it will keep them focussed.

Anonymous said...

"These philosophically blank people were stealing some of our longstanding ideas like decentralisation, state priority to health and education, removing government from the role of broker of petroleum companies... to name just a few. Since they spoke from a bigger platform, they looked like pioneers of these ideas, who were difficult to be accused of plagiarism." Do you seriously claim that all these ideas were original with you and your crowd? It sounds like a tantrum.
Which of the mainstream parties except the Marxists have a recognisable political philosophy? Do Mulayam Yadav or Deve Gowda or the Gandhi family have a philosophy beyond feathering their nest with brocade feathers? Most of these folks just learn "governance" as they seem to think it consists in, along the way.
The origins of political parties, especially pioneering ones, are rarely squeaky clean and intellectually impeccable. Kejriwal is correct in not getting too bogged down with debating club concerns right at the outset when a brutally practical approach is required. Even a gram panchayat can do great work without having the ghost of a political philosophy.

Sanjay Gupta said...

Post 8th Dec 2013 : I make this observation only by reading between the lines.

1) My expectation would have been that 9th of Dec all the Sucessfull and Unsuccessfull candidates of AAP would start would in their constituency. They where eager to serve the people of Delhi and Nation. I have not yet seen any such report by the media or any such claim by the AAP. They could have started requesting people to come with their problems relatint to MCD or otherwise. Obviously, they could move the issues.

2) The incidence of Mr Gopal Rai with Gen V K Singh, reflects that Mr Rai did not show the patience required by any politician or Social Leader. He probably did not respect the Chair that Gen V K Singh has commanded, needless to say that at the event that Mr Singh was attending it could have been a more graceful behaviour rather than spike of Anger and Anxiety. Do we really expect such a behaviour lead the country.

3) Donations on the site of AAP have been tremondous. Will AAP, a strong proponent of RTI for political parties, will reveal the contact details of the donors for verification. If the party feels that the confidential data should not be revealed publically, would CC Avenues issue a certificate that the money has come from different account and not from some small no of acconts. I guess the number of accounts should be 90 % of the number of donors.

Dr. Tanmay said...

Dear Surjit,
I must congratulate you for your knowledge, understanding and the will and patience to do something for the motherland righteously.

From your writings I can well imagine your knowledge about our societal culture, political culture and economical culture. I am one hundred percent with you on your title 'the mission to create a clean alternative party has failed'. However, what did you expect, honestly?

AAP can not follow what you have suggested for as politics in India is influenced by several factors. You too know it. You were asking for systemic changes which as you know is done top down in our culture.And you also know power politics that changes your ideas and actions once you reach the top position.

However, that there are persons like you who can think so well, act so ethically has kept India alive.

Need not worry, a time will come when there will be so many like you, thinking alike and you all will bring a glorified India. So, be it AAP or Congress or any party, do suggest them what should have been right, not always ideologically but practically. The parties on power may listen to you, may not but you will improve on your analytic skills and may be yes one day if you are take decisions you will take the best one.

I have been with your post for the past 3-4 hours and really feeling happy that my country has sons like you. God bless.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Dear Mr/Ms Anonymous (Marxist),

Who said what originally is not important in politics. What is important is who put it in their political agenda. Our agenda of decentralisation is Gandhian. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi insisted, as did Rabindranath Tagore, and rightly so, that India needed its own political philosophy and not one imported from the West: be it capitalism or socialism.

This Gandhian agenda was never implemented even by the party that should have been the first to uphold Bapu's values: the Congress. The so-called Indian socialists, who carried the baton relayed from Gandhi to Ram Manohar Lohia to Jayaprakash Narayan, went on to form a few governments at the State level. They did not want to delegate powers further to their cities, towns and villages either.

Youth for Democracy was planning to launch a political party (with Gandhian ideals coupled with freedom of the market wherever possible) much before the IaC mulled over the idea. However, our first preference was IaC transforming into a party, as it would have more visibility and reach. When that happened, we joined it. But we knew they had adopted slogans from various sources and might not quite know how to execute those concepts into administrative measures. This is not boastfulness. Consider the following example.

On 28 February 2013, the AAP addressed a press conference to analyse the latest Union Budget proposal. Their guest analyst Prof Arun Kumar said that the corporate sector had the money, but it was not sure there was enough demand in the market, which was why they were not releasing it. On his turn, Prashant Bhushan said the party therefore believed that the companies must be taxed heavily, which Finance Minister P Chidambaram did not do! Yogendra Yadav could not decipher Prof Kumar's economics either. This example is enough to establish the fact that the AAP leadership is clueless about economic theories and practice. Bhushan, in particular, could never understand the simple fact that businessmen take no burden; if taxed, they would pass on the cost to the consumers, and it will be the people at large who would finally suffer due to the taxation.

PS: It does not behove a Marxist to hide his/her identity. You are supposed to be a revolutionary.

ABHISHEK KUMAR said...

Sir I want to know that whom should we trust for better governance??

Surajit Dasgupta said...

As for somebody certifying Kejriwal as "great", the point cannot be countered in a debate. It is a matter of experience. Whoever drew close to him does not have charitable things to say about him after the separation, be it from IaC or from the AAP. This overwhelmingly comprises people who did not move on to a different party to be liable of the accusation of being the second party's implantation in the first. Even those who went to the Congress, BJP or some other party had not joined the AAP to betray it. The coterie culture in this party repelled them away.

It is also futile to try inducing sense in a person who thinks a party's policy forums are mere debating clubs. Heard of democracy?

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Abhishek,

That's the simplest and yet the most difficult question to answer.

Is there an idealist party in the country that is in the reckoning for power? The answer is a big "no". There are certainly a few parties that strive hard to live up to the principles they have themselves laid down, but they are not in the reckoning for power.

Second, unfortunately or practically, the fight at the Centre will stay one between a front headed by the Congress and another headed by the BJP for quite a few years. After the first received a drubbing in 4 out of 5 recently concluded Assembly elections, the media is trying to replace Rahul Gandhi with Arvind Kejriwal to take on Narendra Modi. But the AAP has no formidable presence at the grassroots outside Delhi. The social media, a great weapon in the hands of the AAP, will also work only in Mumbai or Bengaluru outside Delhi, not elsewhere in the country. So it will be interesting to see how much television is able to inflate the stature of Kejriwal politically. Even if the media succeeds in doing so, will the AAP not be then clubbed with the Congress-led UPA because he is being pitted against a Modi-led BJP? For that reason and also because it looks like another socialist-populist party, will the AAP be able to make a mark in States like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Bengal? Even if it does, since it looks more like the UPA pack, it will eat into the votes of the so-called secularists more than those of the BJP. Electorally, this spells disaster for the long-term future of the AAP.

As for governance, despite being tainted by numerous charges of corruption, only those parties that have an experience to rule seem to know how our system works. Outside these parties, among all that I have interacted with at a stretch, the Lok Satta Party is the only one that has very sound policies. However, it will take years for it to arrive anywhere near power, more so because its leadership insists that it will, as a matter of principle, never resort to high-voltage theatrics to grab public attention, unlike the AAP.

ABHISHEK KUMAR said...

Sir I don't know if you are right or wrong.. But as you suggest that Congress or even BJP should be supported or otherwise LSP.. I think it's better to be with AAP and make it better because atleast it talks about a few policies which will benefit common man... And there is always scope for improvement!!

Surajit Dasgupta said...

The policies of the AAP will hardly benefit the people. The populist measures will come back to haunt the people as, if you offer one service for free, you will be charged more for another. Refer to the last 10 points mentioned in the end of my narrative that deal with my reservations with the party manifesto.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Someone masquerading as a "beststarsign" left a comment that raises no question that has not been answered above. And he wishes to continue with the debate!

I promise him/her, if s/he posts anything in decent language using his/her real identity, I'll publish the comment(s) and take him on, howsoever long a debate ensues thereafter.

ABHISHEK KUMAR said...

It's not only the AAP manifesto Sir!! You left AAP because of that but still you support their stand on various topics like swaraj or janlokpal as was evident from your stand on AAP on a tv channel debate. I don't know what you think about those issues now, but I think that they are truly in the welfare of nation and major political parties do not support any of them. That is why I said that AAP is good for country. Although they also have shortcomings but I think that they will surely work towards removing them.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Abhishek,

Decentralisation is most certainly the need of the country, the need of the hour. However, it is immoral to fool the people on account of where it can be done and where it can't be. A lot many powers of the Centre have already been delegated to the panchayats; the constraint of the latter is limited to paucity of funds. Quite often, the panchayats have the money but it is strictly marked for a certain work that is not urgent at a given point of time. So you have strange situations like a village faced with floods but having money only for drought relief or vice versa. Under the leadership of KN Govindacharya, we have been demanding for long that some amount without preconditions be transferred directly to panchayats. Further, the local bodies must also be allowed to raise their own funds.

On the issue of swaraj, please refer to various Planning Commission reports on Panchayati Raj to know it's the State Government that is reluctant to share its powers with the villages. Besides, where decentralisation will not work in a State has already been explained in the main narrative (for example, a mohalla sabha cannot terminate the jobs of errant teachers, violating the land's labour laws). This was a promise made in the AAP manifesto. That was a clear case of taking the (gullible) people for a ride.

As for Jan Lokpal, Youth for Democracy's support to it was always conditional. We never supported, for example, prosecution of accused judges by the lokpal or a lokayukta. The latter are political executive bodies. If they are allowed to rule over the judiciary, the last hope of Indians for justice will collapse. Then, some conditions put forward by the JLP activists are fishy; they appear as if some activists were looking for their own seats in the new institution. For instance, why is there a condition that there should be awardees of the Ramon Magsaysay on the Lokpal panel? Did Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi have it in the back of their minds that this would make them the foremost contenders in the all-powerful body?

Where the AAP is indeed rendering the nation a good service is the polity. Its remarkable debut has shaken all older parties up from slumber. As of now, the new party is also enjoying a honeymoon period with the media, which needs it also because Rahul Gandhi has been discredited as a vote catcher after the drubbing the Congress received in 4 out of 5 recently concluded Assembly elections. To stop the juggernaut of Narendra Modi, the Congress, which controls a large part of the media, would work backstage to prop up Kejriwal all the more as it becomes increasingly sure that the UPA cannot retain power after the next Lok Sabha elections. This would increase the probability of a third front kind of government, which can be supported from outside by the Congress, thus extending its rule for a few more years until it, habitually, pulls the rug from beneath that government's feet.

In this entire gameplan of the Congress, and also because the AAP has been branding itself more like an alternative socialist party rather than an alternative nationalist, pro-market, pro-development party, I see your party lost in a period of the next two-three years, after which the national contest will once again turn bipolar between two fronts, one each led by the BJP and the Congress. Without media support, the AAP would collapse wih three months. People are slowly getting fatigued by their high-voltage dramatics.

Vishnu Sarda said...

Thanks for an insight into aap's working. I am also a supporter, though not as much as you are surely, so I respect your opinions. But one thing you are mistaking (excuse me for jumping to conclusion) is expectations. Though I understand high expectations are needed while you are involved so much, but as an out sider, my expectations of aap are not huge. It eventually is going to be one of THOSE. It will be foolish to search for all answers in one party, for in that case, we would be better in colonial era. There is a reason we have chosen to be democratic country. Anyways, what aap offers is fresh faces, and open political structure which is acting transparently. It is upping the competition by setting standard high, which as a liberalist, you can confirm better that competition is always good for end user, the customer. It is erecting to be New party, so there's chance to build it's policies from scratch.

Nilanjan said...

good read and informative

Abhijit said...

I felt like reading 'Animal Farm'!

Abhijit said...

Dear Surjit,

the biggest problem I see with AAP is that they certainly talk a lot but fail to give a road map on how are they going to achieve it, specially they are spending their time in dharna, rallies etc. instead of working from the office.

Rahul Mehta of right to recall correctly quotes that the words of a politician mean nothing, the only thing that matters is your policy decision and the laws you draft. AAP fails to provide a sketch of their proposed laws formally.

During your association with AAP, did you find any committee in the party to take care of these issues?

Abhijit said...

Dear Surjit,

the biggest problem I see with AAP is that they certainly talk a lot but fail to give a road map on how are they going to achieve it, specially they are spending their time in dharna, rallies etc. instead of working from the office.

Rahul Mehta of right to recall correctly quotes that the words of a politician mean nothing, the only thing that matters is your policy decision and the laws you draft. AAP fails to provide a sketch of their proposed laws formally.

During your association with AAP, did you find any committee in the party to take care of these issues?

devanshi zaveri said...

I too was an AAP supporter and had faith in Arvind Kejriwal, even when dey took support from congress to form govt.. But soon realized dey r no diff den oder political party when dey jump to loksabha elections w/o putting der efforts in managing Delhi.. N all show-off started on tv channels..
Party dat cant realize der own weaknesses to do no good for nation and targets BJP which is comparatively better choice for the nation in current situation. Has also same political ambition rather than ambition for nation..

I unfollow kejriwal on twitter when i lost faith in him being a leader who can openly reject which is not right n good for nation.. All in his party's interests.. Nation is not a priority for him

devanshi zaveri said...

Surajit,

It was very insightful to read your post, was convinced my thinking was in right direction.. your thoughts on secularism were very inspiring..

I have posted dis on facebook but not sure how many would read coz of its length.. Specially want some of my acquaintances pro-aap to know truth.. n make informed choice in elections..

If possible post another summarized version to spread dis info to other ppl..

We all wish good for nation,but it takes a lot to do something real for it.. Admire dis quality in ppl like u n dose who had worked along with u for it..

Sumedh said...

Dear Surajit,

First off I must confess that I did not have the patience to read the entire entry which was too long to my liking for the points it was trying to make.

However, from whatever I read, there is one fatal flaw in the whole writeup which must be pointed out. Your major problem with AAP's functioning seems to be lack of true democracy with ideology being usurped by a chosen few. In actuality your real problem is that AAP is not going in the direction YOU envisage as the ideal. Fact is that you will be dissatisfied with anything that does not go as per YOUR ideas. I hope you see the contradiction. Then by picking up some points and reducing it to say that it is just Congress in new bottle, is also a serious flaw (though debatable and not as much as the first one).

Individual points can be debated for long. For instance, I can point out several flaws in your understanding of secularism (or for that matter Mr Yadav's). A high level understanding of the subject requires quite a different perspective in my opinion, but surely I cannot hold anyone hostage to my view of secularism and how I envisage the true meaning of it. I would be quite happy to oblige you to a real debate on these subjects if you want, with the real point being that there are quite varied views on that subject and many more than what you read in popular media/literature.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Dear Sumedh,

If you believe the section of society that poured into the streets in April and August 2011 was anxiously looking for a control-freak socialist state, I doubt many would share your view. That is over and above my argument that we all know what pathetic condition all the States that have been ruled by more-socialist-than-capitalist parties are in.

Whether India's future lies in socialism or capitalism or a balanced mix of the two can certainly be debated. The problem with the AAP is more perplexing than this debate. People have absolutely no idea what direction the party wishes to take the nation to. The party itself is not sure about it. They had formed several policy sub-committees in April 2013. Now we hear there is a new sub-committee for economic affairs even as the previous committees have not come up with their respective vision documents even as almost a year has passed by. It is also to be seen how a Meera Sanyal's economic view gels with a Prof Anand Kumar's. What fools this party suffers was clear when they met the Press to assess last year's Union Budget proposals. Their guest speaker Prof Arun Kumar said the corporate sector had enough money but was not releasing it because there was a paucity of demand in the market. Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan ceased the opportunity to demand imposition of heavy taxes on companies to extract money from them! Does increasing demand in the market mean taxing the product and service providers? Ridiculous! And the Tughlaqs did not even reckon that no businessman takes additional burden upon himself; he passes on every extra cost to the consumer. That means because of Bhushan and Yadav's whims and fancies, we, the aam aadmi, must make our already wretched lives all the more miserable.

I am ready to debate the true implication of secularism, too. More importantly, I demand, as did Thomas Mathew whom I have quoted in the narrative, how the AAP's understanding of the concept is any different from that of the Congress.

You may continue with the debate here or you may face me on Facebook, the link of my profile on that social networking site features in this blog towards the bottom of the screen.

Anonymous said...


How disappointing for you and for the rest of India for whom a ray of hope shone momentarily.
My understanding from UK is as follows but it does not reflect anyone’s beliefs but my own.
Indian politics was stagnant, the internal squabbles of the BJP and the dynastic machinations of the CPI meant that the ivory citadel in ND has closed itself off from the national aam admi, who were desperate for someone to believe in, Kejriwal threw them a line. Although some of the hooks were borrowed the anti corruption hook resonated and everyone bit.
India has so many problems to resolve, it’s important to acknowledge them all but to start with the ones that you can do something about, the lack of disciplined thinking and authoritative leadership in AAP has bungled things up and the result is a pointless anti-climax.
But the result shook up the existing parties- a bit of introspection always serves well.
Since election AAP have washed their linen in public, too many kneejerk reactions done full frontal for effect, too much preaching and sanctimony – and still not enough accountability. The oxygen of success and fame corrupts the “incorruptible”- an arrogant confidence has set in. The AAP has demonstrated that it is immature, incompetent and inconsistent, nice idea – badly executed
Now it’s time to leave it to the professionals, enter NM stage right!

Sumedh said...

Dear Surajit,

I think you missed the main point being made. It is this:

You were dissatisfied with the internal democracy in AAP, or lack of it and yet stayed on till manifesto came out. You would have never left AAP if the manifesto had some of your ideas, or at least the ones you think are important.

This is fair enough. Everyone is entitled to own opinion and leave an organization if it has a different direction. But blaming your departure on the lack of internal democracy is not sincere. Let us say for argument sake that if views were been taken from all (which apparently were not as per your account), and still it was decided to go in the direction as it is now, would you have still stayed on after the manifesto came out?

If the answer to last question is in the negative (which I believe is the case going by whatever I understood of this blog entry), then the reason for disassociation should simply be expressed as AAP having different ideas/direction than your own. It has to do very little with lack of democracy. And that is the flaw of this blog entry, in that it overemphasises this latter point while the real reason does not seem to be this at all. Which is why I said in previous comment, that you would eventually be dissatisfied with any political organization that does not follow the direction you think is the best one.

You said:

> anxiously looking for a control-freak socialist state

I have seen no evidence of this from AAP so far, but judgement deserves to be reserved till their national manifesto is out. I think your judgement in all the spheres is being heavily clouded by your position on the economic policy. As you yourself said that it is still to be seen how divergent views on economic front will be accommodated so at this point it does not make much sense to debate that.

The second reason I believe it is not very worthwhile to debate it at this point is that economic policy is much less of an unchanging entity than say secularism (meaning it has a greater dependency on circumstances so specifics are more important for a meaningful discussion).

You said:

> I am ready to debate the true implication of secularism, too.

This is actually a quite involved one, and will like to take time to explain my opinions on this. As for AAP's view, I don't think it is necessarily a bad idea to be taking the original position of pre-independence Congress with modifications for current scenario. I think reading this blog entry, I have a fair idea of where you stand though you should correct if I misrepresent. Let me start off by saying:

Every individual has a different nature, and direction of growth driven by it. The responsibility of State is to acknowledge these differences, understand them and act as a facilitator to help the individual develop as per own nature while also exposing the individual to the available choices.

While this may be high-sounding and irrelevant, I believe the fundamental principles of secularism (and many others like education, even economics etc) must flow from this. Will expand on this subsequently.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

Dear Sumedh,

You would perhaps have not put the last comment or would have raised some other issues if you had gone through the comments published so far. Your contention is nothing new. I have been a journalist and I know the difference between subjective narration and objective reporting. It is to pre-empt the allegation of subjectivity that I have quoted so many quiet as well as open dissidents in the post.

Your most glaring oversight is of the portion that deals with the manner in which 23 members of the national executive and 6 of the political affairs committee were nominated (not elected). That is a much bigger reason than the party leadership not accepting my viewpoint or that of anybody else. You also missed the commonsensical inference that it is impossible to create a party committed to honesty so fast. The silly manner in which some AAP members were found conducting themselves in the sting operation by MediaSarkar is proof that recruitment into the party was not done through thorough scrutiny. That, in turn, is related to the fact that founder members by and large are not consulted before letting someone in.

If I had found the supporter base of the party as leftist and populist as the leadership, I would not have entered the party in the first place. This is another point that nullifies your assumption that, while I was ignored, others were paid heed to.

It is strange that you do not see evidence of the short-lived AAP Government being a control-freak even after its defiance of sound economics as well as logistics in the manner in which it offered water free and electricity at half the rate up to consumption of 400 kWh through subsidy, and the complaint of bureaucrats that the elected representatives of this party gave them orders and instructions at will defying all procedures. Could you not see a control freak trait even in the Somnath Bharti-led racist raid, or vigilance of hospitals and schools by party cadre instead of appointed government servants?

As for secularism, firstly, the AAP’s or your idea is no differentfrom the path pursued to disastrous effect so far since Independence. Second, it hardly matters how 1.25 billion Indians lead their lives individually. Individuals have different lives in every country. That does not make states treat them differently.

Sumedh said...

Dear Surajit,

You are missing my point again. It is not my contention at all that your claim about AAP functioning being undemocratic is flawed. My point is:

a) Let's assume that all that you said about AAP undemocratic functioning is true. However, this was true well before manifesto came out. Lets say for argument sake that some of those who drafted the manifesto actually shared your views and had put them down. Still it would not have made them any more democratic. However, going by your account and statements elsewhere you would have been quite happy with such a manifesto and would not have dissociated from AAP.

b) Given a) it stands to reason that the real crux of your whole objection was that manifesto did not have the points you wanted it to have. It has got to do absolutely nothing with internal democracy in AAP or not (also borne from the fact that your current support to other party is based on its ideas alone even though there is no democracy there).

So I have been saying that the flaw of this post is that it needlessly goes on about something which has nothing to do with the reason for your disassociating from it. There is no question of my oversight anywhere because I am not questioning your claim about lack of internal democracy in the first place.

> Could you not see a control freak trait even in the Somnath Bharti-led racist raid

What, you really serious in saying this? So now handling (or mis-handling) of some law & order issue is now clubbed as evidence of "control-freak socialist state". At most this is over-activism and has nothing to do with socialism much less a control-freak one.

> complaint of bureaucrats that the elected representatives of this party gave them orders and instructions at will defying all procedures

I have not seen anything about this apart from the reported Somnath Bharti & Law Secy incident. Even that certainly nowhere fits the description you give. Also you have clearly missed, or are deliberately ignoring the reports of how top serving Delhi bureaucrats were full of praise for the ministers and CM. Seriously though clubbing all such under the category of "control-freak socialist state" is an over-exaggeration just to make your point.

> defiance of sound economics as well as logistics in the manner in which it offered water free and electricity at half the rate up to consumption of 400 kWh through subsidy

What should be subsidized and what should not be is a long drawn argument. "Pure capitalist" state is a myth due to basic fundamental problems and as you would know even best examples of capitalist states like US/UK have large subsidies somewhere or other. I have my own views on this and agree that power subsidy was a bad idea (though primarily not because "subsidies are bad"), but either way it has got to do little with a "control-freak socialist" state either.

> As for secularism, firstly, the AAP’s or your idea is no different from the path pursued to disastrous effect so far since Independence.

Uh, I have not even spelt out my idea yet. Second part of your comment clearly shows that you pre-empted conclusions incorrectly. Given the lack of patience, it would not be useful to discuss this further.

Sumedh said...

Btw, let me just point out the lack of thought in the last part:

> Second, it hardly matters how 1.25 billion Indians lead their lives individually. Individuals have different lives in every country.

No they don't and it matters, otherwise State will not be required at all. It is the role of State vis-a-vis individual that is the question unless you are saying that ultimately State should be eliminated completely.

Surajit Dasgupta said...

>>>Let's assume that all that you said about AAP undemocratic functioning is true. However, this was true well before manifesto came out.<<<

Not really. This means you have not read the full post with due diligence. The refusal to conduct election on the day of the national convention notwithstanding, there were regular verbal as well as email exchanges between the members of the PAC, NE and NC till May 2013.

>>>Lets say for argument sake that some of those who drafted the manifesto actually shared your views and had put them down. Still it would not have made them any more democratic.<<<

There is no scope for a “let’s say” here. I am not debating a hypothesis. Anybody who is a part of the 300-member strong decision-making bodies of the AAP knows the party is being guided by a motley group comprising Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Yogendra Yadav and Sanjay Singh. Prashant Bhushan and Gopal Rai pitch in off and on. Nobody else has any say in what direction the party ought to take at any given point of time.

>>>However, going by your account and statements elsewhere you would have been quite happy with such a manifesto and would not have dissociated from AAP.<<<

This hypothesis makes no sense.

>>>the real crux of your whole objection was that manifesto did not have the points you wanted it to have. It has got to do absolutely nothing with internal democracy in AAP<<<

Not entirely. The kind of people who were caught with their pants down in the sting operation on 21 November 2013, an election ticket to Deshraj Raghav and the refusal to withdraw Praveen Kumar Sobti alias Bheem were as objectionable. And they were all results of lack of democracy. In case of Raghav, for example, a majority of active members had protested, but to no avail. Left wing ideology finally winning was the biggest reason, but not the only one.

>>>also borne from the fact that your current support to other party is based on its ideas alone even though there is no democracy there).<<<

How do you define democracy? Elections? What should be the format of those elections? Primaries alone? Or internal elections to decide office bearers? One of the two or both? You are arguing like a newbie. There are various ways in which different parties ensure internal democracy in their respective organisations. They explain it in the party constitution. And if someone has a grievance, he/she can approach the Election Commission with the complaint that the party is not adhering to its word.

For your information, the AAP did not convene any meeting of its national council for more than a year after its inception. And to avert the eventuality of a show cause notice from the EC, it amended the constitution in the eventual meeting of the NC by fraudulent means on 31 January 2014. About half of the NC members have quit the party ever since, beginning with Madhu Bhaduri. To note how other NC members are complaining about the lack of internal democracy in the AAP, visit this Facebook album of mine: https://www.facebook.com/surajitdasguptarandomthoughts/media_set?set=a.10152362801724680.1073741832.679309679

By the way, I would not have supported the BJP — if that is what you are alluding to — but for its prime ministerial candidate. His track record raises hope that he can set a lot of things right not only in governance but also in internal administration of his party. Without him at the helm, the BJP is as uninspiring as the Congress...

Surajit Dasgupta said...

... >>>What, you really serious in saying this? So now handling (or mis-handling) of some law & order issue is now clubbed as evidence of "control-freak socialist state". At most this is over-activism and has nothing to do with socialism much less a control-freak one.<<<

A party that talks of central intervention not only in its first manifesto (for the State of Delhi) but also in the second (for the whole of India), this has got to be the standard operating procedure. It cannot be a case of mishandling of a situation. It was not a one-off case. They made the party apparatchiki raid schools and hospitals as well — a throwback to the Soviet days right after the transfer of power from the Tsars. After taking over power in West Bengal, the CPI(M) goons handled administration similarly.

<<>>

>>>I have not seen anything about this<<<

Ibnlive.com: “Janata Darbar: Kejriwal fails, but many other CMs have been successful” [cites examples of Oommen Chandy, Nitish Kumar and Narendra Modi]

Firstpost.com: “As in the case of VP Singh, people have been too eager and kind to Kejriwal, but what he has failed to realise is that they are also perceptive, demanding and more importantly, unforgiving. They don’t distinguish between his inability to practice the diabolical art of politics, which the Congress and BJP are adept at, and his inability to translate the civil society ideas of democratic governance into everyday administration. Irrespective of the circumstances, failure to deliver is still failure. For the time being, he is an administrative failure and the street drama is a cover up.”

“…They should have taken time to train their legislators and potential ministerial candidates on the skills of administration that’s in in line with their philosophy of inclusive governance.”

“…Right from day one at the office, the party made horrible mistakes, mostly out of inexperience and eagerness to create impact, which played out as recklessness. Unprepared, new to administration and overzealous to look different, they still didn’t have a plan to build the ship as they sailed.”

Niticentral.com: “Soon after being sworn-in as the Chief Minister of Delhi on December 28, 2013 Kejriwal’s mind was working on how to bypass the Rules 55 (1) and 56 of the Transaction of Business of Government of NCT of Delhi, 1993 framed in pursuance to Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991. Under these rules prior permission of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi was necessary table/introduce any piece of legislation. The issue was referred to Senior Advocate KN Bhat through Advocate Rahul Mehra, an AAP functionary. As early as January 2, 2014 KN Bhat has given his opinion that Rule 55 was ultra vires to Article 239 (A)(A) of Government of NCT of Delhi Act, 1991 which was Constitution (Sixty-Ninth) Amendment Act, 1991.”

The New Indian Express: “You cannot get work done by using threats of suspension or dismissal. They don’t know how to get work done from officials. You have to work together with people and not by threatening them,” (Kiran) Bedi said in reply to a question on why the AAP government was facing so many obstacles.”

ETC...

Surajit Dasgupta said...

... >>>you have clearly missed, or are deliberately ignoring the reports of how top serving Delhi bureaucrats were full of praise for the ministers and CM.<<<

Where? When?

>>>I have my own views on this and agree that power subsidy was a bad idea (though primarily not because "subsidies are bad"), but either way it has got to do little with a "control-freak socialist" state either.<<<

It is only socialism that supports the idea of subsidies.

And i have never demanded a total capitalist state.

>>>As for secularism, firstly, the AAP’s or your idea is no different from the path pursued to disastrous effect so far since Independence.<<<

Does not matter if you haven’t — clearly that is. When you said in the previous comment, “Every individual has a different nature, and direction of growth driven by it. The responsibility of State is to acknowledge these differences, understand them and act as a facilitator to help the individual develop as per own nature while also exposing the individual to the available choices,” you were meandering about the Congress-style secularism. “Acknowledging the differences” is precisely where you start deviating from pristine secularism. Why should law treat two individuals differently for the same crime or in an identical situation however different they may be?

<<>>

>>>No they don't<<<

In which country, they don’t?

Vibs said...

A wonderful article again by Surjit sir. If possible then please also create a video of all the text so that this wonderful analysis can be acknowledged by 1000s of other people who seldom read big articles.

Vaibhav Agarwal

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