AAP: The death of democratic India’s newest hope


Rohit Dhankar

Many of my friends are ardent supporters of AAP. They see a hope in the meteoric rise of AAP– portrayed by likes of Arvinds, Somnaths, and Kumars—to power. I wondered right from the beginning of Hazare’s movement against corruption whether it represents any sociopolitical thought or is just an expression of collective frustration and gullibility of the propel. A relatively more self-righteous and ambitious faction of that movement formed AAP which is revealing their abysmally low level of ethical development and understanding in Delhi in the full glare of the media these days.

Democracies are supposed to run on the public will. But public will by its very nature cannot be unified and unidirectional. It necessarily involves contradictions, differences of opinions and differences of forms of good life imagined. The forms of good life a khaap member, a sophisticated university professor, a bureaucrat, a poojari and a maulvi imagines is not necessarily the same. Nor every citizen of a democratic country has the larger vision to see the contradiction between his/her own imagination of good life and the possible collective ways of living in a democracy that provide space for realizing individual/group aspirations in a regulated sociopolitical space. Therefore, all democracies require at the least three things to function properly:

1. A normative rational framework to decide acceptability and limits of public aspirations and acceptability of imagined ways of living. A moral and legal framework.
2. A procedural framework to implement that accepted legal-moral framework. (The constitution defines both these frameworks together)
3. A critical mass of people who understand and have conviction in that constitutional framework.

We as a nation do have that constitutional framework. What we lack is critical mass of people who understand this and have conviction in it. Our political parties—-Congress, BJP, various left of the center factions and regional fiefdoms, all–continuously demonstrated a lack of conviction in the democratic norms; of both procedural as well as moral nature. They have depleted the critical mass of people who have democratic convictions and understanding in any robust sense. An average Indian is a non-thinking self-seeker. The rampant corruption is only one of many manifestations of this lack of conviction and understanding.

AAP came to power in Delhi on the promise that it will remove corruption, which will lead to proper functioning of the constitutional framework, resulting in providing unbiased just space to people to realize their aspirations. The frustration of the public with political parties developed an extreme form of gullibility, and the people did not examine the capability to understand and strength of conviction of those who were promising to remove corruption and make the constitution function properly.

The AAP leaders’ limitation of understanding, lack of conviction and deep dishonesty is a matter of daily display on the roads of Delhi these days.

Many people knew that Arvind Kejriwal was never an honest person who respected any legal and procedural norms. His non-compliance to service rules in IT department and refusal to pay back to the government salary for two years leave clearly shows that he was never averse to using public funds for his personal gain—-the main form of corruption in Indian politics. So he was as corrupt in his limited capacities as any other Indian politician.

Lately he has shown his complete disregard for any legal and procedural norms by going on dharna. Somnath Bharati is declaring himself law unto himself, declaring people criminals, wants to be judge, jury, prosecutor and executioner rolled into one. Some obscure figure called Kumar Vishwas gets cheep sexual thrills when a nurse feels his pulse and therefore recommends ‘unattractive’—in his view—‘kaali peeli’ nurses, who can be seen as sisters.

All this shows the wretchedness of their ways of thinking, abysmal lack of ethical development and arrogant self-righteousness. These certainly are not the ‘new netas’ who can serve people and uphold democratic norms. They are thriving on promises and lack of critical thinking on the part of the public. This only proved that any bunch of self-seeking idiots can project themselves as saviors of the public in the present Indian political climate. And the gullible frustrated public will lap up any hope thrown at them by media mechanisms.

This is the death of democratic India’s newest hope. The nation still has to awaken and construct more robust hopes, and they can emerge only through intense churning of ideas in the masses. Can Professor Yadav pay attention on producing that churning rather than pinning his hopes on this by now notorious mindless self-righteous brigade?
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11 Responses to AAP: The death of democratic India’s newest hope

  1. dksrenu says:

    Very well analyzed Prof. Dhankar!

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    • Anonymous says:

      Professor I think all these laws and constitutional framework is outdated and needs to be changed if people or the nation is not benefitting from it. No matter how much the economy improves, if laws and ministers do not work in favour of the citizens, India will still be considered an underdeveloped country. I understand Somnath Bharti’s over enthusiasm went a bit too far. But we all know the truth behind drug trafficking and sex rackets. I think AAP’s intentions are correct, perhaps the style is impatient. Moreover, I still think, kejriwal is a hero for all the personal sacrifices he has made and for being so brave to defy a system, which resists all change. Probably, we all need to really think out of the box and try and re-look at our rigid and pre-conditioned ways of thinking and judging people.

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      • rdhankar says:

        What is responsible for most of the corruption is exercise of unaccountable power; the kind of exercise of power that is not regulated by any framework of norms, but comes because of positioning in politics or society. Kejriwal and his foul mouthed colleagues want to exercise power that does not come within their preview. Simply because they assume themselves to be heroes and self-righteous. That is what I am objecting to. All ministers in all states and center do the same. So they are nicely fitting into their shows, a bit too fast for the public comfort.

        If the constitution is not good enough it should be changed, but it could be changes only only through due procedure, not by sweet will of so-called heroes. The very idea that heroes can take the constitution in their own hand is feudal in nature.

        Of course Kejriwal might be a hero to many, but hero-worship usually leads to dead ends.

        And I am sure those who are closed in the boxes should think out of them. By the way the ‘out of box’ brigade might be in a box called ‘out of box’. I would humbly request all the out-of-box thinkers to clearly define the meaning of this oft repeated cliche and compare it with critical thinking. This might turn out to be a a name given to kite-fling.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    मुझे लगता है कि यह आम आदमी पार्टी के बारे में किसी तरह के अन्तिम निर्णय पर पहुंच जाने की जल्‍दी है। इस पार्टी से अपेक्षाएं भी बढ गई हैं जिन पर इसे खरा उतरना होगा। लेकिन यह भी समझने की जरूरत है कि यह मौजूदा समय की स्‍थापित राजनीति को चुनौति दे रही है। इसलिए इस पर दबाव भी बहुत बढ गया है। यह वैसा ही है, जैसे सोवियत रूस को बर्बाद करने में न सिर्फ आन्‍तरिक दवाब काम कर रहे थे बल्कि तमाम पूंजीवादी देश भी जुटे थे। इसके दुश्‍मन सिर्फ स्‍थापित राजनैतिक दल ही नहीं है बल्कि हिन्‍दुस्‍तान का ऐसा बुद्धिजीवी वर्ग भी है जो हर चीज को संदेह की नजर से देखता है। यह बुद्धिजीवी वर्ग का सिनिसिज्‍म है जो कि स्‍थापित राजनीति की अधिकांश गतिविधियों पर चुप रहता है और जैसे ही कोई नई हवा आती है, उसे संदेह से देखने लगता है।
    यह सही है कि पार्टी के द्वारा भी कुछ चीजें कम सोचे जल्‍दबाजी में की जा रही हैं। किसी भी संगठन या पार्टी को आकार लेने में समय लगता है। अभी पार्टी विचारधारात्‍मक रूप लेने की जददोजहद में जुटी है और क्‍योंकि यह पार्टी एक आन्‍दोलन से निकली है इसलिए आन्‍दोलन में जनता जुटाने और साथ लेने की एक हडबडी होती है जिसमें कि भांति भांति की विचारधारा के लोग एक साथ हो जाते हैं। कुछ लोग आरंभ से जुटे होते हैं यदि वैचारिक रूप से वे एक जैसे न भी हों तो शुरूआत करने वालों और उसकी वरिष्‍ठता की वजह से कुछ प्रभाव डालते हैं। कुमार विश्‍वास जैसे लोगों के बारे में कुछ ज्‍यादा कहने की आवश्‍यकता नहीं है, वैसे भी उसने अपनी गलती मान ली है। इसके साथ ही यह यकीन होना चाहिए कि लोग बदल सकते हैं। मैंने बहुत पहले एक नाटक देखा था और ऐसी फिल्‍में भी हैं जो व्‍यक्ति के रूपान्‍तरण को दर्शाती हैं। नाटक था, ताम्रपत्र। नाटक में एक आदमी कुछ लालचों के चलते स्‍वतंत्रतासेनानी का झूठा तमगा ले लेता है, नाटक पूर्णत: उसके रूपान्‍तरण को ही दर्शाता है जब वह सार्वजनिक तौर पर उसे जवाबदेह होना पडता है।
    पार्टी के नेता योगेन्‍द्र यादव ने अनेक बार इस बात को स्‍वीकार किया है कि हमारे साथ अलग अलग सोच के लोग हैं क्‍योंकि यह पार्टी एक आन्‍दोलन की उपज है।
    यह सही है कि यदि इस पार्टी ने अपने ताने बाने को नहीं संभाला तो यह खत्‍म हो जाएगी। यदि अपने निर्णयों में संगतता और अपनी प्रतिबद्धता को छोड दिया तो यह संभव है कि स्‍थापित राजनीति को चुनौती देने वाला आन्‍दोलन और पार्टी फिर अगले 20-30 में पैदा नहीं होगी। इससे जनता का भी मोहभंग होगा।
    इसके बावजूद मुझे लगता है कि इंतजार किया जाना चाहिए। मुझे अभय कुमार दुबे का एक कथन याद आता है जो उन्‍होंने टीवी बहस में कभी कहा था, ” आम आदमी पार्टी के बारे में यह देखना चाहिए कि क्‍या उसने भारत के लोकतंत्र में कोई ऐसी चीज की है जिससे भारत के लोकतंत्र को नुकसान होता है।” शायद अभी यह कहने का वक्‍त नहीं आया है। क्‍या यह पार्टी किसी भी तरह से कांग्रेस, बीजेपी, सपा, बसपा, एसीपी, आदि से किसी रूप में भिन्‍न नहीं है ? क्‍या भ्रष्‍टाचार से तंग आ चुके भारत जैसे लोकतंत्र में जनता की आवाज को एकजुट करने में कोई समस्‍या है ?
    मुझे लगता है कि पार्टी में यह एक ऐसा दौर है और यह लोकसभा चुनावों तक रहेगा, जब यह पार्टी एक आकार ले रही होगी। मुझे लगता है कि अभी तो इसके अन्‍तर्विरोध प्रकट होंगे। क्‍योंकि सत्‍ता की लडाई अभी शुरू होनी है। यदि यह पार्टी वक्‍त लगाकर इन्‍हें संभाल लेती है तो शायद यह एक वैकल्पिक राजनीति को दिशा दे सकती है।

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    • rdhankar says:

      This is hardly anything more than a weak apology for the party. Today’s Indian express quotes Yogendra Yadav giving clean chit to Somnath Bharati. the tactic he uses is exactly the same that all parties use: the probe is on, in our view he has done no wrong, if found guilty we will take action. How pathetically Congress like!

      The question I am raising is: can this bunch of people give a robust norm respecting democratic shape to the party? Their thinking is feudal and self righteous. many of them don’t even seem to be aware that functioning of civilized society requires moral and procedural norms that have to be considered above personal feelings, however great and ‘honest’ the person in question might be. what is the difference between “Rahul is always right, hell with the cabinet” and “Arvind is always right hell with the norms”? are we all willing to give surrender all our thinking to our new found heroes?

      what may emerge out of this kind of thinking and this level of understanding? do we have the basic material that might hold some promise? WELL, SORRY FRIENDS: NO.

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  3. Vishwambhar says:

    मुझे लगता है कि यह आम आदमी पार्टी के बारे में किसी तरह के अन्तिम निर्णय पर पहुंच जाने की जल्‍दी है। इस पार्टी से अपेक्षाएं भी बढ गई हैं जिन पर इसे खरा उतरना होगा। लेकिन यह भी समझने की जरूरत है कि यह मौजूदा समय की स्‍थापित राजनीति को चुनौति दे रही है। इसलिए इस पर दबाव भी बहुत बढ गया है। यह वैसा ही है, जैसे सोवियत रूस को बर्बाद करने में न सिर्फ आन्‍तरिक दवाब काम कर रहे थे बल्कि तमाम पूंजीवादी देश भी जुटे थे। इसके दुश्‍मन सिर्फ स्‍थापित राजनैतिक दल ही नहीं है बल्कि हिन्‍दुस्‍तान का ऐसा बुद्धिजीवी वर्ग भी है जो हर चीज को संदेह की नजर से देखता है। यह बुद्धिजीवी वर्ग का सिनिसिज्‍म है जो कि स्‍थापित राजनीति की अधिकांश गतिविधियों पर चुप रहता है और जैसे ही कोई नई हवा आती है, उसे संदेह से देखने लगता है।
    यह सही है कि पार्टी के द्वारा भी कुछ चीजें कम सोचे जल्‍दबाजी में की जा रही हैं। किसी भी संगठन या पार्टी को आकार लेने में समय लगता है। अभी पार्टी विचारधारात्‍मक रूप लेने की जददोजहद में जुटी है और क्‍योंकि यह पार्टी एक आन्‍दोलन से निकली है इसलिए आन्‍दोलन में जनता जुटाने और साथ लेने की एक हडबडी होती है जिसमें कि भांति भांति की विचारधारा के लोग एक साथ हो जाते हैं। कुछ लोग आरंभ से जुटे होते हैं यदि वैचारिक रूप से वे एक जैसे न भी हों तो शुरूआत करने वालों और उसकी वरिष्‍ठता की वजह से कुछ प्रभाव डालते हैं। कुमार विश्‍वास जैसे लोगों के बारे में कुछ ज्‍यादा कहने की आवश्‍यकता नहीं है, वैसे भी उसने अपनी गलती मान ली है। इसके साथ ही यह यकीन होना चाहिए कि लोग बदल सकते हैं। मैंने बहुत पहले एक नाटक देखा था और ऐसी फिल्‍में भी हैं जो व्‍यक्ति के रूपान्‍तरण को दर्शाती हैं। नाटक था, ताम्रपत्र। नाटक में एक आदमी कुछ लालचों के चलते स्‍वतंत्रतासेनानी का झूठा तमगा ले लेता है, नाटक पूर्णत: उसके रूपान्‍तरण को ही दर्शाता है जब वह सार्वजनिक तौर पर उसे जवाबदेह होना पडता है।
    पार्टी के नेता योगेन्‍द्र यादव ने अनेक बार इस बात को स्‍वीकार किया है कि हमारे साथ अलग अलग सोच के लोग हैं क्‍योंकि यह पार्टी एक आन्‍दोलन की उपज है।
    यह सही है कि यदि इस पार्टी ने अपने ताने बाने को नहीं संभाला तो यह खत्‍म हो जाएगी। यदि अपने निर्णयों में संगतता और अपनी प्रतिबद्धता को छोड दिया तो यह संभव है कि स्‍थापित राजनीति को चुनौती देने वाला आन्‍दोलन और पार्टी फिर अगले 20-30 में पैदा नहीं होगी। इससे जनता का भी मोहभंग होगा।
    इसके बावजूद मुझे लगता है कि इंतजार किया जाना चाहिए। मुझे अभय कुमार दुबे का एक कथन याद आता है जो उन्‍होंने टीवी बहस में कभी कहा था, ” आम आदमी पार्टी के बारे में यह देखना चाहिए कि क्‍या उसने भारत के लोकतंत्र में कोई ऐसी चीज की है जिससे भारत के लोकतंत्र को नुकसान होता है।” शायद अभी यह कहने का वक्‍त नहीं आया है। क्‍या यह पार्टी किसी भी तरह से कांग्रेस, बीजेपी, सपा, बसपा, एसीपी, आदि से किसी रूप में भिन्‍न नहीं है ? क्‍या भ्रष्‍टाचार से तंग आ चुके भारत जैसे लोकतंत्र में जनता की आवाज को एकजुट करने में कोई समस्‍या है ?
    मुझे लगता है कि पार्टी में यह एक ऐसा दौर है और यह लोकसभा चुनावों तक रहेगा, जब यह पार्टी एक आकार ले रही होगी। मुझे लगता है कि अभी तो इसके अन्‍तर्विरोध प्रकट होंगे। क्‍योंकि सत्‍ता की लडाई अभी शुरू होनी है। यदि यह पार्टी वक्‍त लगाकर इन्‍हें संभाल लेती है तो शायद यह एक वैकल्पिक राजनीति को दिशा दे सकती है।

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  4. Siddharth Dixit says:

    Respected Professor,
    If hero worship is a harmful then individual bashing should also be viewed in the same context and your article takes the bashing to rhetorical levels.

    Corruption in individual is nothing new to India’s political space. Heroes from pre independence era were not spared of this corruption: Mahatma Gandhi’s views on could be viewed as corrupt, still he is the spiritual-political leader of independent India; Vallabhbhai Patel had views which could very well place his with right wing nationalists, still he tied together a diverse nation and accepted and worked towards making India a plural society; Mohammed Ali Jinnah, a beef eating, wine drinking Muslim carved out a Muslim nation, he was also corrupt in the normative rational framework of thinking. But, we do not judge them by distortions in their personalities but what they stood for and do not abhor them from their norm breaking tendencies. So, picking up one case of wrong doing from past and then giving out verdict for the rest of the life is kind of biased.

    Moreover, you very preferentially biased your article by picking wrongs done by AK in past but you never mentioned that he is also an Ashoka fellow and a Magsaysay award winner. By what I know, these awards put strong emphasis, in their selection procedure, on ethical fibre of the person. There are several stages involving numerous cross checks from various stakeholders and sources before giving out these awards. Sir, you also failed to mention the impact of his RTI work through his organization called Parivartan. It’s like criticizing Vallabhbhai patal as right wing nationalist or Gandhi for his views on sexuality and his methods, overlooking what they were trying to do and what they stood for.

    Professor, I certainly agree to your views on the way somnath bharti was given clear chit by Yogendra Yadav. But, bringing in the aspect overstepping legal and procedural norms by AK and group is bit laughable. Legal and procedural norms were broken when Gandhi took to streets, norms were flouted during JP movement but they stood for an idea and aspired for a change which was more important than existing procedural norms as if saying “To hell with the norm”. Though, I am in no way suggesting that AK’s dharnas are akin to those of Gandhi and JP but to restructure the constituted order, breaking of laws at times are inevitable and probably indispensable.

    Yours Truly
    Siddharth Dixit

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    • rdhankar says:

      Mr Dixit,

      Yes, my little piece is polemical as well rhetorical. It was meant to be.

      Your first point “taking one instance from past….” is well taken. But, one, these are abnormal times where finding an upright person in politics is becoming a very remote possibility, that leads to general cynicism. To combat that cynicism one needs extraordinary examples of uprightness. Two, one can make mistakes, one can commit acts of commission and commission and then can realise and break away from that past. But before this breaking away happens one has to come clean and admit, and assure that the past behaviour was an aberration, it will not be repeated. In absence of such an obvious act of breaking away, and in the light of constant glossing over such past acts, it looks like a general disposition of the individual. And if the group of individuals shows these tendencies in the present as well, then the pretention of upholding norms comes un-stuck. I am not interested individual bashing, and I am not doing that. But if the visible mascots of a party define thinking and work culture of that party (which has nothing else to go by) then the only option one has is examining their words and deeds. That is what my little polemical piece tried to do.

      Your second point is about awards. I would say nothing of awards. Those who have faith in them are most welcome to persist in that. What I will say is: I am not interested in evaluating Arvind Kejriwal’s work as an activist and voluntary organisation worker. I am interested in his political views and actions. No hero, however highly decorated with awards, can be given the powers to disregard norms of procedure in a democracy and given freedom to act on his sweet will. We forget, that precisely the powers conceded to ministers and political personalities outside the norms are at the root of the corruption. A minister can telephone a police officer to let the criminal go, and the criminal goes free. Another minister asks the officer to book someone as criminal and the officer books. In both cases without due procedure and adhering to due procedure. Both cases are equal, even if one is on behest of a tented person and another on behest of a hero proclaiming to be honest from roof tops.

      The space in this kind of blog is too limited to analyse Gandhi’s and JP’s movements. Please read the story of Champaran or Dandi and analyse Gandhi’s actions and words and you will know the difference. It is a bit curious to argue that a man who got power of CM by swearing to uphold a constitution says that he would like to change it by breaking, and not through proper procedures. Neither Gandhi had sworn to the British rule, not JP was a sworn in official of the state. If Arvind Kejriwal (1) does not like the constitution and (2) does not want to change it through proper procedures, but (3) wants to change it through breaking; then he should resign. The man about whom above (1) to (3) are true has no business being a CM. So he should first resign and then build a movement to change the constitution; alternatively, he should remain in power, up hold the constitution and simultaneously try to change it through proper procedure. He cannot have his cake and eat it too. In face to the low he is as good as you and I are. If he does not believe that, sorry, Sir, I can have no hopes from him.

      With regards
      Rohit

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  5. Very well analysed. What has given rise to these disgruntled people like kejriwals, kumars and bharties? I m a Congress man I don’t want to opine about others but Congress men r responsible for this chaos. Common man is confused. Connection between the Congress worker and the people in general is lost. Absolute power has corrupted the most of the leaders absolutely. They r playing into the hands of ‘chamchas’. The Congress must connect with the people in the interest of democratic and secular India. We have got to work more sincerely to eradicate corruption which certainly is an issue particularly corruption by khadi clad leaders.

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    • Rohit Dhankar says:

      I am sorry but Congress seems to have no hope. you seem to be aware of the disconnect with people and corruption in the Congress. But the complete non-democratic and feudal attitude of the Congress leaders seems to escape your attention. What does it mean to see a PM declaring that RG is their NATURAL LEADER? on what grounds other than being the son of Rajive and Sonia Gandhi?

      The Congress is nothing more than a family fiefdom and congress leaders are nothing more than family retainers and Nehru-Gandhi family chamchas, How can one have any hopes from them? They are the main culprits in bringing us at the impasse we happen to be in.

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  6. […] AAP: The death of democratic India’s newest hope. […]

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