Indian democracy has been an amusing journey ever since India became a republic in 1950 and the first general election held in 1952. Albeit, unlike our next door neighbours (Pakistan, Bangladesh), democracy has been deep rooted and strong right from the word go.
Congress was the natural choice to lead the country, after leading the India’s freedom struggle. They hold sway strongly at least for two decades post first general elections in 1952. Nehru faced little resistance. Only palpable resistance came from Rajagopalachari’s Swatantra Party. Lal Bahadur Shastri had short but flawless tenure and Indira too ruled the nation for 11 years straight during 1966-77.
In India, voters relatively are more emotional and thus striking the chord with them is the all important thing to do. There have been political ideas and leaders who struck this chord and swept elections from nowhere. They could create an aura around them in a way that people looked at them as the panacea to all problems.
But quickly they ascended, hurriedly they faltered. Legendary Jai Prakash Narayan built a colossal movement against Indira Gandhi in mid-seventies. He brought the whole nation on board with him. Congress was decimated in General Election in 1977 and Indira Gandhi, who was synonyms to the very idea of India till just four years back, lost at both the constituencies she fought at. The general feeling was that it was beginning of the end for Congress. But Janta government imploded badly.
The government fell prey to infightings and over-ambitiousness of its leader and could not complete the term. Indira made a thumping comeback in 1980 and India’s first and extremely promising tryst with non-Congress government fell flat.
It was action replay twelve years later in 1989. A senior minister in Rajiv Gandhi’s cabinet, VP Singh parted way. He built a movement in 1989; was able to polarise anti-Congress votes. VP Singh became Prime Minister of second non-Congress government after 1989 general election. He became so unequivocal face of the crusade against Rajiv Gandhi’s rule that as an unprecedented move, right and left came together as both CPI/CPM and BJP supported his government. But this time around euphoria fizzled even more swiftly than Janta Party’s government a decade back. VP Singh could not even complete one year at the helm. The situation in country plummeted on all front, be it law and order, communal harmony and economy. In just 18 months, Congress made a comeback amidst the state of overall depression in the summer of 1991.
There was an uncanny similarity between both these experiments. JP and VP were able to build a movement and could catch the fancy of voters but at both occasions, movement built did not transform in to stable and good governance. So the implication is that building mass movement does not necessarily transform into delivery and good governance.
Now come to the third and most conspicuous failure of this series. Ostensibly he wanted to change the system by becoming part of it rather than being out of it, so activist Arvind Kejriwal entered politics with the formation of AAP in November 2012. Politicians frowned, some taunted. His guru Anna Hazare also did not approve it.
Though there was nothing wrong in it as such. This is the very founding principle of democracy. If you feel that you have the people’s patronage, have agenda and blue print for change; then join politics, take power and implement what you have envisaged.
He became CM of Delhi in early 2014. The first sign of immaturity surfaced when he sat on dharna as CM. But that, however, was pardonable. After all, an activist would take the time to transform into a politician.
In February 2015, Delhi endorsed one of the biggest political experiments ever. Just 27 months old party, formed by non-political activists was given a thumping majority by people of Delhi basis Kejriwal’s rhetoric of aam aadmi and his narratives on the fight against corruption.
Twenty months down the line, Arvind Kejriwal turned out to be one of the biggest disillusionments of Indian politics ever. Much bigger than Janta Government in 1977 and VP Singh in 1989. Interestingly, his unfulfilled election promises like free Wi-Fi and CCTV camera etc. are not at all in contention while judging him at this juncture; reasons and arguments behind this analogy are much severer than this.
Kejriwal has been a disappointment because of the fact that he betrayed the very principles and values, he once stood for. For the past twenty months, he has been doing everything but what an aam aadmi turned politician should have done.
Ideally, he should have dedicated himself to Delhi and set the new benchmark of governance. Kejriwal instead envisioned a short cut to attain cult status in Indian politics and embarked upon a journey. He took his success in Delhi as a permanent ratification by country on his leadership. His trait of being anti-establishment since his activist’s days made him entangled most of the time in baiting Modi, LG and BJP. In the process, he has been jumping from one issue to other and interestingly none of these issues were related to the state of Delhi, which he rules. Issues can be as frivolous as his claim of PM’s fake degree. Over-ambitious and euphoric Kejriwal completely reined in the CM Kejriwal. He needs Punjab, Goa and then whole country.
The level of self-indulgence has reached a level that he now puts even his trivial activities on social media, with language which is filmy and certainly not at par.
Even a person with mediocre economic and political acumen can easily make out that how incoherent, irrelevant and jaded his arguments are during current row of demonetisation. He has already being trolled by those who voted him into power and become an object of loathing by and large, but Kejriwal fails to smell the coffee.
The ambitious experiment of Delhi’s voter has bombed badly. Misses of 1977 and 1989 stand nowhere as at those occasions, politicians let the common man down but this time a purported common man himself is in the contention. The rise of Kejriwal was meteoric and sent a tremor among political parties twenty months back but it has been blown away by Kejriwal himself. The nation will pay the price for this bombed experiment, let alone Kejriwal and AAP. The success of AAP had the potential to transform whole democratic and political system in this country and could have given political parties a run for their money. So with this failure, the country just missed a chance of political revolution. Will next time voters put their money on a common man turned politician?
Traditional politicians are happy though and enjoying this failed experiment.
(The author in NewsMobile i-Journo and views expressed are personal)
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