Months after its formation, the AAP still remains a shapeless, fluid political entity. As it plans to expand beyond Delhi, its contours become more and more unclear…
Is it time we stamped an expiry date on the AAP? Admitted, it’s rather uncivilised to bring up the question when the fledging party is still enjoying its honeymoon days – the media are still not done with gushing over its spectacular success, intellectuals of all shades are joining the party across the country and, yes, the masses too are looking impressed with the new kid on the political block. But the question needs to be asked. It is because the future of the party looks hazy after the initial euphoria wears off.
Months after its formation, the AAP still remains a shapeless, fluid political entity. As it plans to expand beyond Delhi, its contours become more and more unclear. The party grew from an anti-corruption movement, now it means all things to all people. It is one reason it has managed to attract people across social and class strata, but as time passes it could prove to be the party’s undoing. It could end up being a party that means nothing to anybody and finally collapse.
How? Well, to begin with there is the leadership question. Who leads the party? Arvind Kejriwal has been the face of the AAP so far, but he does not lead it; he is the first among equals at the best. Prof Yogendra Yadav is the ideologue-philosopher. Again, he is not the leader. The other fellow travelers do not appear the type who would surrender themselves to the idea of the leader. They are proving irrepressible, expressing themselves freely on every issue, even contentious ones – Prashant Bhushan’s remark on J&K referendum is one example; Kumar Vishwas appears to be functioning on his own – oblivious of the repercussion on the party.
This is in Delhi. One is not sure how the party organisation would look like in the States. Thousands of people have been joining the party and it is busy acquiring members, but there’s no talk of leadership yet. For example, who is going to head the party in Karnataka? In Delhi it was easy because the AAP leaders functioned in a close-knit group. In other States the members are from diverse backgrounds and lack any commonality in thinking, barring their common dislike for the Congress and the BJP. How does the amorphous lot come together without a leader? Finding a leader is no easy task. Any decision might leave the party divided.
To compound the problem is the issue of ideology – the set of principles holding a party together. The AAP has said it is neither Left nor Right; it’s more of a middle of the road entity. Fair enough, Left and Right are foolish constructs in India’s context in any case, but without the pronouncement of the party’s stand on different issues of national import nothing becomes clear. Kumar Vishwas appears what experts would call ‘Right winger’ by inclination while the likes of Prashant Bhushan are known to be hyper-Left in their leaning. It is yet to be seen how the party reconciles both the positions to becomes middle of the road.
Until the party clarifies its ideology, it would remain exposed to internal push and pull of several kinds and thus open to destablisation. The anti-corruption glue may ultimately prove too weak to keep a national entity together. The AAP’s manifesto should remedy this situation by stating what it stands for. However, it is easier said than done. Most of its leaders and people joining the party have been leaders of civil society movements and corporate entities in their own right. They already have very strong views on issues they have been espousing and might find it difficult to make compromises. Of course, there are ego conflicts to be taken care of.
Do the problems mean that the AAP is a passing phase in Indian politics and it would wither away at some point not too far away? Well, it is a distinct possibility unless the party comes up with something dramatic.
– Firstpost: Is it time to stamp a date of expiry on Aam Aadmi Party?