Monday, February 17, 2014

Why I am disappointed with the Aam Aadmi Party

What Kejriwal showed us is that it takes a lot of hard work to get things done in a democracy. Just wishful thinking cannot change the country. While there is huge scope of improvement in the mainstream political parties, but they are on the right track. Things are happening in India. We need to make sure they keep happening at a faster pace, there is no need to despair.

We should not always keep comparing ourselves with China. Yes China has improved at a much faster pace, but also at a much higher human cost. An experiment like China will bring disaster in a diverse and deeply religious country like ours. And it is unfair to compare us with the developed countries. We started from an abyss in 1947 and slowly crawling out of the pit.

Our democracy withstood the test of time. No matter how much we complain about dynasty, and disenfranchisement of people, our rulers were more or less accountable to the people. Or they were thrown out, be it mighty Indira Gandhi, or iron man Vajpayee. They were made to bite the dust by the “aam admi” using their vote. Mamtas, Mayawatis, Sushmas do happen in our democracy. If our people were so disenfranchised by the “system” as AAP is trying to portray, Kejriwal could not have become Delhi CM in the first try. With all their failing, our politicians never shown the tendency or ever had the guts to usurp power from the people (except once). We never turned into another Pakistan or Syria or Iraq or North Korea (this one could have been better for us!)

Kejriwal kept on harping about corruption and dynasty. But they are not the main issues facing the common women. Pockets of extreme poverty, inequality of opportunity and lack of basic governance are. These are the things that affect the common people the most. Neither Modi nor Kejriwal is talking about them. I saw one very recent interview of Kejriwal in NDTV where one young "common" man in rugged clothes raised a very interesting point. He asked “To me the biggest issue is the equality education. If my daughter goes to a rundown government school with very poor education, where as a rich man's son goes to the best international school, what chances will she have in from of him. She will always remain disadvantaged. What would you do about it?” The young man spoke with such passion it almost made me cry. I could immediately relate to his concern because I am a father and I am equally worried about my daughter's education. Mr. Kejriwal obviously never thought about this. He breezily said, “We can do two things. Close down all private schools. I do not want to do that. Or make the Government schools so good that no one will send their children to private school. Give us five years and we will make that happen.” He actually said that. I am damn sure he never even thought about this ever. Yet he lied to a bright young man, full of high hopes that AAP will do something for his children. By this time Kejriwal knew that he is going to run away in two days. How better is he than the other peddlers of false hope?

Kejriwal does not represent the interest of the "Aam Aadmi". He represents the aspirations and desires of the urban middle class and the Indian Diaspora. We, the IT people have enough money that we do not need the government, we actually pay the government. Our children go to the best schools. They do not need government education or government jobs. Our main problem is our guilty conscience that we are not doing enough for our country; envy that the illiterate stupid politicians are having it better than us, that Rahul Gandhi, that stupid brat is being propped up as the Shahjada, that the roads that we are driving are full of potholes, that the passport office guy does not speak in English. All these are valid concerns. We have right to demand all these. We pay dearly for all these. But we are a tiny minority. We don’t even vote. For most people of this country it hardly matters Rahul Gandhi was appointed the crown prince, or that A Raja has looted 3000 crores, or Ambanis are bribing the robot to get lucrative oil contracts. For them what matters is that their children’s midday meal is free of poison, their daughter does not get raped on her way back from school, they get the full 100 bucks from NREGA, they get an ADHAR card in time.

With all their failings, Congress did pass the RTI, right to education, food security, NREGA, Jan Lokpal, NPS bills. These are not mean achievements, considering they never had the majority, which Mr. Kejriwal is so complaining about. They did try to pass the Woman’s reservation bill. They did kill several thousand Sikhs in 1984, but their ideology is not based on anti-Sikh or anti Minority. They did “appoint” a Sikh Prime Minister. I do not know what Modi is offering to the people of India other than a vague promise of "Vikash". But what are his plans for education, health care, social investment, eradicating malnutrition, which even the robot accepted to be a shame of the nation. I never even heard him speak about the Maoist problem and what are his plans to tackle extreme poverty. Even the robot rightly understood that extreme poverty and hence Maoists are the biggest threat to the country. No one knows. And Kejriwal never asks. At least Congress is seen to be concerned more about the real issues and not some HiFi "Vikash", and even trying to do something about it. I will not be surprised if they do better than people are expecting in this election.

India is changing, with or without Kejriwal. It is changing for the same reason the whole world is changing, spread of the Internet and the Television, spread of democratic values, spread of education, spread of basic human rights. Political parties in a democracy cannot ignore the demands of the people any more with usual brazenness they were used to. If the AAP wants to be a part of this change, they have to learn how to function in a democracy, how to work with the opposition, no matter how corrupt and compromised they seem. Otherwise they will remain a fringe pressure group, less effective than the Maoists or Baba Ramdev.