The undisguised glee at Vinod Binny’s open rebellion, the delirious retweeting of Ashutosh’s uncouth snubbing of Captain Gopinath on national television, the snide pontifications from Kiran Bedi, and the strategically-timed crocodile tears from Anupam Kher, only go to prove one thing: the establishment would prefer the AAP dead, buried and gone. If the rigor mortis sets in speedier than earlier than sooner, everyone will go home happy.
So why this urge to finish off a new-born baby? The AAP government is certainly not the first newly-sworn government to have starting troubles. Within 5 months of taking charge, the much touted super champ of administration, Shri Shri Narendra Modi, presided over the much written about Gujarat riots. Even his most ardent supporters agree that NaMo did precious little to control the situation. They attribute the cluelessness to his inexperience.
Cut to Uttar Pradesh. Akhilesh Yadav has completed a year now. Along the way he’s bumbled and stumbled so many times. Recently, his government looked the other way during the Muzaffarnagar Riots. And yet, no TV channel deemed it fit to run a debate on the topic: Has the Samajwadi Government lost the plot?
The alacrity with which the world wants to write off AAP makes one wonder as to what they’ve done wrong to deserve the guillotine so quickly. Have they caused the exchequer a presumptive loss of Rs. 1.76 lakh crores? Were they twiddling their thumbs when a thousand lives were lost to a mass massacre? Have they passed any law or resolution that violates the spirit of the constitution? Have they emptied the coffers in the name of food security? Have they rewritten text books and infected the system with their ideology? AAP is not guilty of any of these crimes. All that has happened is:
a) Kejriwal asked for two 5-bedroom apartments for himself and then dropped it when he heard murmurs of protest
b) Vinod Binny was denied a ministry and then a chance to be a Lok Sabha member. He sulked, the first time. After the second slight, he’s come out publicly against the party. AAP mishandled the situation by not rewarding him with a suitable post.
c) Somnath Bharti, the law minister, has tampered with some evidence in some case for which he was pulled up by some judge. If the crime was really serious, he would have been debarred from practice by the court.
d) AAP government has announced that it won’t be allowing FDI in retail in the capital. Incidentally, Delhi BJP made the same promise during elections. If AAP says no to FDI in retail it’s regressive but if BJP makes the same point, everyone presses the amnesia button.
e) Some ministers have started using government Innovas that they are entitled to. As per the party diktat, they’ve forsaken the lal batti. Still there’s criticism. Perhaps the critics expect the mantris to do government work using a scooter, auto rickshaw, train or bicycle.
f) Somnath Bharti goofed up by naming the rape victim in a press release. Being the law minister, he should have known better. But Meenakshi Lekhi of the BJP did the same mistake in the Tarun Tejpal Sexual assault case, a few months ago. She wasn’t excoriated then.
g) Arvind Kejriwal publicly chided the Delhi Police for the Danish Woman Rape Case. Instead of complaining and appearing helpless, a wiser course of action would have been to take it up with Delhi Lt. Governor.
h) Limelight seeker turned law minister Somnath Bharti turns vigilante and carries out a surprise raid without doing the necessary paper work and then picks up a fight with the cops for not doing the job. To make matters worse, Kejriwal & company escalate the matter and muddle the government-police equations. A non-issue became an issue because of lack of literacy in government procedures.
See, when you look at things in perspective, it doesn’t look that bad. Our country has seen far worse. But that doesn’t mean AAP can pretend there are no problems. Its credibility has taken a pounding, popularity ratings have tanked and its supporters are understandably appalled by the series of avoidably unfortunate incidents.
However AAP’s biggest challenge continues to be the over-the-top promises made during the election campaign. When you promise a Jan Lok Pal by 29th of December, people think you can get it done in a snap. When you say governance is no rocket science, the aam aadmi assumes it must be a cinch. When you swear you’ll waive electricity bills, the voter doesn’t expect any rude shocks. When you don’t pursue the corrupt after you put out a 370-page report on Commonwealth scam, the pundits have every right to think that you’re a closet congressman. When you take oath by wading your way through the metro rail, the Average Joe expects an encore every day. When you paint yourself in virgin white hues, it is but natural for every single flaw to be noticed.
Clearly, by setting sky high standards for themselves, the AAP has scored a self-goal as it’s just not possible to hit the ground running when you have a team full of rookies. Expecting a Rakhi Birla, Saurabh Bhardwaj or Girish Soni to deliver peak performance from Day 1 is as optimistic as demanding a Roger Federer like result from your neighbourhood Raja Phadnis.
Therefore, the need of the hour is to tone down expectations. And that can only be done by: cutting out the Raja Harishchandra style posturing; putting a full stop to the daily nautankis staged with an eye on the camera; refraining from activist bombast and electoral rhetoric; and above all, by hand picking spokespersons with a calm demeanour
At the party level, it’s best if AAP lets go of the greed to emerge as a key national player. The greed has distracted Kejriwal enough. Instead of thinking of ways and means of becoming a potential prime minister it will do him good if he fulfils his potential as a chief minister. Because all said and done, a solid performance on the ground will organically create a support-base for him almost effortlessly. You won’t need the media then.
If these correctives are put in place, the AAP will continue to flummox the doomsdayers. Else, the vultures will get ready for the last supper.