There is no doubt that the Aam Aadmi Party has seen a
meteoric rise in its electoral and political stature in India in a very short
span of time. The party had its formal inauguration in November 2012. That makes
it even less than four year old.
The AAP owes its genesis to Anna Hazare lead anti-corruption
movement of 2011 that was hugely successful. It has galvanized people from the
cross sections of society, spread across the nation, especially its urban
There were differences and many activists of the 'India Against
Corruption' combine that had spearheaded the movement, chose to dissociate from
the decision to form a political outfit. Even Anna Hazare was not sure and was
non-committal. His approval came very late.
But people saw a point here - in voices of those activists
who were of the opinion that a political extension was the next logical step to
cleanse the political system. Between May 2011, when the anti-corruption
movement was at peak, and November 2012, when the AAP was formally launched,
the existing political system had effectively worked to blunt the edge of the
movement which was seeing a clear roadblock ahead.
There was no surety on when India would see a massive
mobilization next. It could again have been a long round based on apolitical
principles of civic society movements before people would feel motivated enough
to come to a platform to raise their voice against the existing system. It was
added by the inherent flaws in 'India Against Corruption' itself. Its activists
had started speaking in different voices sending confusing signals to
supporters as well as to people who felt proud in taking a principled stand for
So, there was nothing wrong if some activists thought to
fast-track the process of cleaning the system - by adopting political means to
fight the existing system - by going political to take on the politicians who
had become too routine for voters.
And it was quite an impressive victory.
After its inception in 2012, almost a year after, in
December 2013, it emerged as the second largest party in the Delhi assembly
polls and went on to form the government with Congress' support. The government
could survive only for 49 days before Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP's chief
architect and Delhi's chief minister, pulled the plug, shielding behind his Jan
Lokpal Bill, that the Congress led central government then had refused to allow.
People went by it since Jan Lokpal was the demand around
which the 2011 anti-corruption movement was weaved. But the alternate view was
always there that buoyed by his prospects, Arvind Kejriwal thought to exploit
his chances on a larger national canvas by going big in the 2014 General
Elections. His party fought it nationally but it proved to be an extremely bad miscalculation.
His party had a humiliating defeat with record number for forfeitures.
But 2014-15 again proved to a momentous year. Arvind
Kejriwal successfully campaigned in 2014, making Delhiites believe that he had not deserted during his first
term. His apology act worked and worked miraculously, giving his party an
absolute majority of 67 seats in the 70 member Delhi assembly in the February
But that is the midpoint where the AAP's fall from grace
Emboldened by the absolute majority, the party decided to
shed some of it so common man style tags by comfortably accepting bungalows and
big sized official vehicles. During the first tenure, the party had made a big
issue of it, asking for flats and simple cars. People thought it was an exercise
aimed at concentrating efforts to do some real good ground level politics like
checking corruption, making roads better, making Delhi's power supply round the
clock, streamlining its public transportation system and working on Delhi safer
for its people.
But when a wave of routine political acts started that were
clearly anti-common man, the alternate view, that Kejriwal had deserted Delhi
in February 2014 for selfish political motives and that he had just used the
2011 anti-corruption movement to further his political interests, started
getting upper hand - and since then it has seen a flurry of developments that
put AAP in clear dock.
Its Delhi government sent a proposal for massive salary
increase in Delhi's legislators. It appointed several AAP leaders on positions
that were paid from the fund that could have been used for the larger public
good. The case where it appointed 21 AAP leaders parliamentary secretaries ,
fully paid from the public fund, is being heard by the Election Commission of
India for violating norms. Delhi had 7 ministers. One was jailed for faking his
degrees and educational qualification. One was jailed for accepting bribe. One
was jailed for involvement in a sex scandal. Several other MLAs have been embroiled
in this or that controversy that a conscious voter would certainly detest. Clearly,
there is a difference between hooliganism and anarchy and the acts of the AAP
MLAs clearly fall in hooliganism category. Transport Minister Gopal Rai had to
resign because of corruption allegations.
Then there are other controversies like the AAP turning into Arvind
Kejriwal's personal fiefdom. Every voice that speaks against Kejriwal, is either
expelled from the party, like we saw in case of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant
Bhushan, two AAP's founding members, or
is crushed and silenced, like we saw in case of Dharamvira Gandhi and Harinder
Singh Khalsa, two AAP MPs from Punjab, who have literally been shunted out for
speaking against Kejriwal.
And as the party is looking a political spread beyond Delhi,
especially in Punjab and Goa, it is dealing with controversies from those
places as well because it has sought an organic route to grow in these two
states, hijacking leaders and workers from other parties. Many AAP Punjab
leaders, who were earlier in other parties, are facing corruption allegations. The
party that had made system cleansing its founding principle had to sack its
Punjab chief for taking cash for allotting tickets. Then there are allegations
of sex scandals from Punjab involving AAP leaders which are doing rounds. And
even in Delhi, Sandeep Kumar, the Women and Child Welfare minister, was not the
first one facing allegations of criminal acts against women. Another MLA Amanatullah
was arrested on allegations of threatening and eve-teasing by a woman. Another
Delhi lawmaker and former minister, Somnath Bharti, was sent to jail in a
domestic violence case.
Delhi is 18 months old for the AAP and it government is
deeply entrenched in controversies associated with the party. Punjab's battle
has got in full throttle and is throwing its share of muck in the cauldron. Let's
see what Goa has to offer as its electoral battle hots up.