It is not too late for AAP to do some course correction — and to bounce back to legitimacy. Despite its confusing messages, and its lack of inner democracy, it has been a tutor in politics! Each move of AAP while being loudly criticized and attacked publicly is bringing change in the functioning of, and in the postures on public policy, among the political classes.
The news that Rahul Gandhi is inviting the advice of retired election commissioners to ensure that he weeds out corrupt persons or candidates, suggests that the political leader realises the current import of showing resistance and resentment towards the inclusion of corrupt persons within the next electoral battle. This certainly is a frontal message from the AAP’s success — Lesson No 1.
Reaching out to people by going to public protests in Jantar Mantar and engaging more with communities is Lesson No 2, and this has also been an AAP strategy. Using modern communication tools — Twitter and Facebook — to solicit opinions and demands is Lesson No 3
And most recently has been the noticeable spread of posters with faces such as Rajiv and Rahul Gandhi on bus stops and hoardings, to compete with the face of Arvind Kejriwal which appears everywhere, including on the backs of many autorickshaws. Putting a face to the party, getting emotional about a leader has been recognized as a mobiliser — Lesson No 4.
Bringing women into the picture alongside the primary leader , consulting women as an important constituency and giving publicity to that, is the negative lesson — or Lesson No 5. Learning from the flak that AAP received from flaying women in the public domain, such as the Khirki incident — has driven Rahul to make women his most favourite constituency and bring them into the limelight .
So while AAP is floundering, imposing injury on itself by over-the-top attacks on all that is reachable, the rest of the political entities are learning how to engage with popular politics... good enough to justify the AAP’s existence!
Noticable fault lines in AAP, apart from the relentless attack on all structures and defying all rules, is the overarching personality cult around Arvind Kejriwal... by projecting him and only him as the messiah, AAP has spawned another kind of hierarchy.
But happily for those of us who were seriously interested in political reform and cleanliness, the AAP uprising is doing well outside Delhi as well. It has provided a space for those who not only wanted a more efficient, less corrupt government, but also believed in the kind of democracy that India has nurtured —electoral politics with a key role for several parties and political options. Many countries have given up on this mode of democracy, as well as a framework for rights and peaceful resolutions of conflict. India has stuck with it and the masses embrace this method — as was witnessed in the State Assembly elections previously held in Naxal territory, Kashmir and Assam, all regions of conflict.
So if the leadership here in Delhi will care to understand how much AAP has meant to the cognisant populations of India, it would be good for everybody. On the flip side, AAP owes it to the people of India not to trash their hopes.
The writer is an economist