Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Why I have lost hopes in AAP

I have concluded that the difference between AAP and other parties, is now non-existent. I was a well wisher of the party till now, but no more.  Here are some reasons 

Surgical Strikes:  Arvind Kejriwal heard about the surgical strike and immediately sent congratulatory tweet to the Indian Army, but churlishly, not to Indian Govt. Even though everyone knows that in our democracy, our armed forces would not do anything without the nod of the govt. Thus credit is equally to the decision makers, but because the main decision maker is Narendra Modi, he was not congratulated.

Then as soon as some of the AAP leaders heard about questions that the Pak propaganda had managed to raise, they thought of a master stroke. Modi is going to use the surgical strike to win in Punjab, let us sow doubts in the minds of the people, so that all anti-Modi votes come to us, and Punjab can be won. Therefore, in an over-clever video, Kejriwal glorified Modi and Army, but asked them to provide proof of strike to put a slap on the face of Pak. If the govt does not give evidence, it would lose credibility, and AAP can win Punjab. If it does show evidence, then the govt would have played its winning hand now (seven months before Punjab elections) and AAP could neutralise the goodwill of BJP within that period. Smart political move!

But most intelligent, objective people saw through this charade. And this strategy backfired and how!

(1) The video was seen as a challenge to the DGMO press conference and questioning the army.

(2) It was taken up by Pakistan as the “substantiation of Pak propaganda by the CM of the capital of India”.

(3) CNN 18 got an expose from the Pak side establishing that there was a surgical strike. Thus, surgical strike was proved without the Army having to give classified and strategic information.

(4) For me, most importantly, AAP lost all respect. My colleagues with whom I have waved the Indian flag and shouted “Bharat Mata ki Jai” till my voice became hoarse, had traded national interest with votes. For me, National interest in non-negotiable.

My past: The emergency was a dark period in the history of India. I had jumped into the national fight against it and we won. The nation rejoiced. But it was short lived - the Janata Party experiment was given support by people overwhelmingly, but the country was betrayed by limitations of the leaders. The nation was witness to politicians focussing on electoral victories, abandoning all the principles it had stood for. JP was a mute spectator to this degeneration, like Anna. Good people started going away from politics. And our emergency heroes like Laloo and Mulayam started playing usual politics and won many elections. I was young, inexperienced and did not have any access to leaders nor followers to try and correct them, or even to inform them of the pain that the nation was undergoing. I had no interest in power nor fame, so I stepped back into education and my normal life.
The nation was betrayed.

Today: After many decades, the country was ready for another National movement. The IAC, AAP and the Delhi victory was based on certain principles. Pundits and commentators who said that elections could not be won without compromise and without using money, muscle or divisive agenda had to eat crow. A new revolution of clean money, principles and decency seemed at hand. The nation rejoiced once again. In 2012, many like me had quit their job, hundreds of volunteers, some of them earning on a daily basis, whose parents were unwell, some who had family problems, some who sold their lands, some who took sabbatical from their jobs or studies, all came to serve the nation, not hand-picked, self-serving, arrogant leaders.

Having won so handsomely in Delhi, the leadership took all the credit and arrogantly thought that they had all the answers to winning electorally. Personal ambitions, end-justifies-means, electoral victory at all costs became the by-line. Political machinations and palace intrigue set in. A new set of principles replaced the earlier one. To our horror, the new principles started becoming REAL. The compromises began:

Simplicity, humility, decency and the desire for a new political culture was replaced by use of uncouth language against opponents – NaMo, YY, PB, media. Arrogance in statements, TV debates, travelling in VIP convoy, banners at every street corner with multiple faces, blaming and accusing everyone at the dirtiest level, playing the victim card. Getting bouncers in internal meetings, playing low games in meetings and especially using multiple accounts and trolling in social media to discredit old associates. All pretense to simplicity and decency has been abandoned. Everything that we used to despise, is now us.

Media management was about using strong words, doing drama, acting, blaming. Good news or bad news does not matter, one should manipulate the media to get worth crores worth of air and print time. Media is na├»ve, needs action and controversy. Manipulate them. Well, AAP media management seems to have succeeded in achieving prime time, but the seriousness has reduced. Many of our erstwhile supporters or people who were looking at AAP with interest have stopped taking us seriously. When entire nation was concerned about the Augusta helicopter scam, AAP was talking about Modi’s degree. Party interest and personal ambition over national interest?

And as AAP wants to become the main party to challenge BJP in next general election by making a gat-bandhan, the strategy is to directly attack Modi for everything, so that AK appears to be Modi’s main opponent. So, calling Modi a coward and psychopath gets you tremendous media attention as well as pits you against the PM. This one-pointed attack may have tremendous strategic advantage but also some major disadvantages too. You tend to ignore many events and developments that impact the nation, because Modi cannot be blamed.

Swaraj was one of the first casualty after Delhi elections. It was even removed from the party constitution. No state leaders were allowed to grow. MLAs elected to run Delhi are now traveling across states, lording over the local units. Maharashtra (the best committee and team) was disbanded in Oct 1st and is now being managed by someone from Delhi. Same is the case with Gujarat, Rajasthan, Punjab, Goa and other states. I went through Arvind’s book to find this new definition of Swaraj, but in vain.

No personality cult was replaced with the new principle – there should be just “One Voice in the party”. Any independent voice should not just be removed, but ejected in such a manner that no one would have the guts to speak up. Was told many times – “We do not want any intelligent thinker in the party, just get “Bharat mata ki Jai” kind of people who would follow the instructions”. Merit has been replaced by loyalty. Party is now left with only loyalists. A volunteer based party has a new principle “Ek jayega to dus ayenge”. Volunteers, like the original principles, are just use-and-throw items. Old genuine volunteers are being replaced by new party workers who have come for taste of power. We started by saying that there should be more than one voice within the party, as the texture of debate and discussion can be self-corrective and improve democracy. But we are now a one-man party.

Transparency and Participation. When we had the NE meeting in which YY and PB were thrown out, I had asked that minutes of the meeting be circulated, which was denied by saying that there is a gag order. The leaders thought that the 20 people sitting in that room were AAP party, while I felt that all the lakhs of volunteers, donors and supporters were the party. Therefore, in spite of the gag order, I followed my conscience and wrote the blog to inform all. I knew that they will come after me and my political career would be over. I chose to still write the blog. But, little did I realise that they will use go down to the level of using some ugly false personal allegations against me as well as dismiss the entire Maharashtra party to spite me. The minutes of that meeting is still not released. What used to be the party of the volunteers is now the party of the leaders. Now, no one is left in the party, who has the courage of conviction to ask for transparency or even participation. The party structure is in shambles. No elections have taken place or likely in the near future. Loyalty is the factor on which organization has been built. RTI within party as well as RTR (Right to recall) is refused.

Clean money is another casualty. When I was in the party, my main pitch to donors was that we displayed even a rupee donated and that we were very prompt on making Balance Sheet and Income and expenditure statement. It is alleged that there is a mismatch of around 14 crores between financial statement given to Election Commission and the donation list. Therefore the donation list has been removed from website for the last thirteen weeks. The Balance sheet and Expense statement has not been displayed since 31st Mar 2014. Which means it has been 30 months since accounts has been shown. Something seems to be wrong somewhere.

Good people who had never ventured into politics were attracted to the party. Most have withdrawn, while some are still vigorously defending. 23 MLAs in Delhi are from other parties and it is common knowledge in Delhi that most of the 67 MLAs are indulging in corruption and bad practices. When someone is caught like Tomar, Sandeep, Asim Ahmed and others, they are removed. Others are continuing because they are not caught. Selection of candidates were not based on due diligence of corrupt and criminal but calculations of winnability. Its pay-back time now. In the desperate speed to win elections, the party has become a breeding ground for opportunists and all kind of shady characters.

Governance in Delhi is in very poor shape. Instead of making flyovers, roads, hospitals and major works – petty works like making one model classroom, installing AC in one school, a few mohalla clinics, using fogging machines etc are highlighted. I have met hundreds of people in Delhi - reporters, senior journalists, RAW and CBI officers, auto drivers, small vendors, taxi drivers etc most of whom were the backbone of the 67-3 victory who are furious and betrayed. MLAs are moving in other states for party work, top leadership is focused on winning elections in Punjab, Goa and Gujarat - Delhi governance is abandoned.

From a 54% vote share in the assembly victory, the MCD by-elections vote share was 29%. Delhi is supposed to be the party’s forte and youth the backbone. In spite of using our standard operating procedure of picking some favourable opinion poll and publicizing it that we were sweeping the polls – AAP was decimated in last year’s DUSU polls where CYSS, the student arm got just 13% of the votes and this year – it did not even fight the election. If the 21 MLAs are disqualified, very few will get re-elected.

So, while there is excellent focus and priority on education and health, overall Delhi voters are very angry and AAP is losing some serious ground. AAP Punjab was expected to win 100 seats in Feb, has seen major setbacks in organization. The pressurizing of Army will also affect it adversely. And, if the re-election of 21 Delhi MLAs takes place at the same time and AAP loses, then the sheen of Punjab result, if positive, may reduce. The party may be reasonably successful electorally but will lose steam in the medium run, due to poor governance and undemocratic party structure.

My role was to be a catalyst in the creation of a new India. It has been my deep regret and pain that post emergency, I could not do anything to stop the downfall of Janata Party.
But, this time, I will try to raise important issues in the hope that the party will make a note and correct. If this experiment for a new India fails and turns into just electoral victories, the nation will become cynical and it will take decades before our countrymen will trust a new movement or party. I do not see BJP or Congress being able to transform the country. Our hopes have been on AAP, but it’s just sliding down fast. The hopes for new politics, built by the nation’s support during IAC and AAP, cannot be allowed to be frittered at the altar of power-at-any-cost.

Unlike many who quit or were removed – I joined no other party, I created no group, I have no personal or political goals (I have quit electoral politics), I have no issues with any individuals and absolutely no personal grudge (have you seen any personal attack by me?), nor do I have any truck with anyone who goes after the party. My aim is purely unselfish – keep a check on the party as the country cannot afford another failure. AAP blind supporters, individually and collectively, will continue to attack me in worst possible ways – but that is alright, as long as I can stimulate some of them to turn off their blind support and substitute by objectivity. But, AAP volunteers have also become bhakts. While my hopes on AAP leadership is diminishing, the same can also be said for its volunteers and supporters. Hatred for others and justification of all wrongs by one’s party is so Dhritrashta. :)

On a personal level, I meditate, reflect, read and write for spiritual evolution. For nation building activity, I am happy doing my bit for the country by developing 15 villages in drought-ridden Beed in Marathawada, as a model to be replicated. On an intellectual level, I intend to play the role of a conscience keeper.

It is always nation first, party next and individuals last.