Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Delhi Battle: The Hopes of Aam Aadmi versus the Wave of Fake Optimism

When I was a student of Journalism at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication (IIMC), Yogendra Yadav came to give a lecture titled “In Defence of Politics”. He came as a guest lecturer. That was the only time he came to IIMC during the time I was a student there. That lecture was around what politics means in day to day life, and how we all are part of the larger politics. I was mesmerised by his eloquence and delivery of speech. He delivered his lecture and then told us that there is something very important in the afternoon, and he has to rush to attend the meeting. I was not aware he was talking about launch of a political revolution in India. It was the very same day when AAP was launched- November 26, 2012.
A common man who is an 
AAP supporter. Photo: Nihal

Aam Aadmi Party came to Indian Politics with lot of hopes. For the first time many people saw academicians, intellectuals and people who have been part of social movements for a long time taking the role of politicians- a tribe which common Indians try to avoid interacting with. Its biggest contribution was that it reconnected people with politics, which lately traditional political parties had failed to do. AAP gave voice to a common man.

The political fight which AAP has given is most fascinating any political party could see in such a small time. The high point was when Arvind Kejriwal defeated Sheila Dixit at New Delhi constituency, and AAP formed government in Delhi. We all know the story- The rise and fall of AAP.

When AAP came to power there was a strong anti-Congress wave all across the nation. The wave continued till Lok Sabha elections, when the nation gave full majority to BJP led NDA government, or to be precise, to Narendra Modi. Since then things have slowed down. The anti-incumbency wave has slowed down. It will be wrong to assume that things have changed since then. Corruption is rampant, inflation remains an issue, and there is no way we can say BJP has done something significantly different. India had always seen a GDP growth rate of around 6% to 9%. But it never meant poverty was irradiated, or other issues were dealt with. There is an ‘optimism’ in the country. Only time will tell if the optimism is fake or not. According to P. Sainath, prominent journalist of our times, it is fake.

But this ‘fake optimism’ means AAP stands a very narrow chance of coming to power in Delhi. We cannot deny the fact that even when there was a wave in support of AAP, it did not receive full majority. Now that wave is also absent. The young urban India which AAP connected with politics has got its own demigod in form of NaMo.

The performance of BJP in various states which went to polls, since it came into power at centre ,has been impressive. It formed government in Maharashtra, Jharkahnd, Haryana and was the second largest party in Jammu and Kashmir. These performances were also result of the fact that BJP fought all the elections with Narendra Modi as the face. It is replicating the same strategy in Delhi once again. The various hoardings in Delhi metro and bill board across the city-state of Delhi are once again painted with NaMo. BJP knows that showing Modi once again as the face of the party will fetch it the required votes, so it is not naming its Chief Minister candidate. The battle once again has become Modi versus Kejriwal, as Congress once again is out of the race.
File photo of AAP supporters campaigning in
Connaught Place Delhi. Photo: Nihal

The only reason why AAP can come back to power is if the middle class voters, which helped AAP come to power in 2013, realises that BJP essentially doesn’t have any face in the elections. A Prime Minister will have many more important issues to deal with. Modi cannot be the face for Chief Minister of Delhi. The lower class vote pretty much lies with Kejriwal. The lower class vote, which was earlier the vote base of Congress, wants to see the 49 days of AAP government when it did not have to deal with corruption on a day to day basis. The political battle has just started. AAP and BJP have kickstarted their campaigning. To say that BJP will win the elections, will be too simple an assessment of Indian politics.

Let us hope Delhi gets the government it deserves.

This article was first published in LokMarg on January 12, 2015

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