Aam Aadmi Party can deliver if

It should focus on alternative politics and not on becoming a political alternative. It should strive for solutions outside the vexed bureaucratic system

By Manoj Misra
Published: Monday 30 November -0001

It should focus on alternative politics and not on becoming a political alternative. It should strive for solutions outside the vexed bureaucratic system

Couple of months back, my small car more than me, had a horrendous time surviving the moon like crators existing in the ISBT (Inter-state bus terminus) in Anand Vihar (east Delhi) where I had travelled for my wife’s early morning drop to a Volvo bus headed to Dehradun.        

Last week, back from an outstation assignment, I spent at 10 in the night, just out from Delhi’s domestic airport more than half and hour fuming at my inability to corner a taxi against a pre-paid receipt because of a chaotic scene, where ‘might was the only right’ and a policemen in uniform was a totally unconcerned witness to all the unsavoury goings on.     

Finally when I did land a taxi, settled myself and then out of curiosity enquired of the driver (a lad in his twenties) about how had he voted, I rather finding an excited young voter who had made history, found one who had stamped jhadu (he did not know much about AAP) merely because the latter had promised free supply of water!     

Few days earlier in a road side eatery at a small place called sat-mile (possibly for ‘seven miles’ from the district town of Parlakhemundi in Odisha) I was intrigued to find a 2013 calendar with a picture of the erstwhile ruler of the area, along side a plaque fixed in the wall with an inscription (in oriya) in praise of the extremist movement, that the state has been grappling with. A conspicuous absence of the decade long single party political dispensation in the state was in my understanding not an inadvertent oversight.      

It was known that the Ganjam district in Odisha had been worst hit from the impact of super cyclone phailin. But driving through it after almost a month of the event, one felt like being in a heavily bombed out country with unbelievable sights of roof less structures and trees grotesquely ravaged and over-turned.           

What are the political and governance messages that emanate from the above real life instances?        

An Aam Aadmi (common man) wishes for a bus stand (at least in the national capital) where one does not dread to enter; where a pre-paid taxi is a matter of course and right and not muscle power; where poll promises are made in all seriousness and where people’s sense of dejection with the current political dispensation does not lead them to a life in a wishful past or an uncertain (even potentially violent) future! Additionally she/he would be best served once the governance became climate change sensitive.        

It is this very common man who turns out to vote on the day that matters most in a democracy.      

Arvind and AAP have repeatedly professed that ‘hum vyavastha badalne ayein hein’ (we are here to change the system and not merely the governments in power). In short AAP wishes to usher in a new mode of politics and governance!      

But can AAP usher in the brave new world (nayi vyavastha)?     

Yes, if it were to focus on practicing alternative ‘politics’ and not merely on becoming yet another political alternative!     

Allow me to explain.      

Most political commentators from the established parties (clearly rattled by the AAP phenomenon) have been trying hard (and presumably wish fully) to belittle the recent political upheaval in Delhi as a passing phase, a la, previous ones like an AGP (Assam) who dazzled to fizzle. This is simply because they, yet again wishfully, look at AAP as being no more than yet another political alternative on the horizon that they need by ‘hook or crook’ to sooner than later, outwit.       

Any political initiative that wishes to practice ‘alternative politics’ shall have to resort to Mahatma Gandhi and use India at 1948 as its reference point, when the infant nation by losing the Mahatma to an assassin’s bullet, lost its bearing of a saint-politician for whom ‘means’ were as much if not more important than the ‘ends’. It was also the time when in respect of ‘governance’ the so called ‘steel frame’ (extant bureaucratic system) and its usefulness to a new nation could have been seriously examined and transformed / reformed.      

But that was not to be. It was ironically none other than Sardar Patel, the iron man, who rallied behind the steel frame, which till a year ago had been the key instrument in the hands of a foreign power for subjugating the Aam Aadmi (common man) in colonial India. Little wonder that post independence the Aam Aadmi was left to deal with a bureaucratic system - with admittedly few notable exceptions – where the colour of the skin of its members, unlike in the past, was similar to one’s own, but there was little break from the past, in their mindset, attitude and even training, which remained elitist, distant and pampered.        

While the reference for ‘alternative politics’ would be the threshold of a newly independent nation, going back some six decades, the one for ‘alternate governance’ would have to be aligned to the demands of a fast changing climatic scenario, of which the year 2013 when a number of extreme climatic events were witnessed, was quite representative and challenging.                                  

Eventually, it is this emphasis on right ‘means’ and appropriate ‘instrument’ that shall become the key to any ‘alternative politics’ and ‘governance’ that AAP and in turn other mainstream political parties (if they were to retain their relevance) would wish to practice and deliver. AMEN!    

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