OPINION
Latest Imbroglio in Delhi: An AAP failure will be bad news for India's popular grassroot movements
- VIPIN PUBBY
Latest Imbroglio in Delhi: An AAP failure will be bad news for India's popular grassroot  movements



In 1985 a remarkable political development took place in Assam. Riding on the wave of huge public support, young leaders of All Assam Students Union formed a political party called Asom Gana Parishad and stormed to power in the state. It was the first such youth-led mass movement that led to formation of a government.

The new party ruled for five years but its consistently poor performance led to losing of popular mandate with Congress wresting power from it five years later. It got one more chance after an even worse performance by the Congress Government but it failed again, never to resurrect as a formidable challenger ever again.

The failure of the AGP set back popular political movements by three decades before Aam Aadmi Party was voted to power. Again it rose on the crest of popular support and provided an alternative to the established political parties.
 

Its performance has also been on a steep downward incline and if it also turns out to be a failure, the signs of which are now visible, it shall also set back prospects of future popular movements by, perhaps, another three decades.
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The failure of the AGP set back popular political movements by three decades before Aam Aadmi Party was voted to power. Again it rose on the crest of popular support and provided an alternative to the established political parties.
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The recent decision of the Election Commission to disqualify 20 MLAs belonging to the AAP in Delhi is a part of series of jolts it has been receiving since wresting power three years ago. Whatever happens to the party challenging the decision in the courts, it has touched a new low since it came into existence riding on the crest of a wave against established politics.

The party, in fact, is now only a pale shadow of its past when volunteers from across the country and abroad joined it or supported it with a belief that it would change the way politics is done in the country. Unfortunately its track record, both that of its government in Delhi and that of its performances in elections elsewhere, has turned out to be pathetic.

After stunning the nation with a sweeping victory in the Delhi Assembly elections on the heels of a wave that had swept Narendra Modi led NDA to power in 2014, it sought a larger role in national politics. It intended to use a possible victory in Punjab, and may be even in Goa, as a stepping stone to take on the BJP in 2019.

However its loss in Punjab, where it had done well during the 2014 general elections, and the humiliation in Goa, forced it to rethink and give up its plan to contest the Assembly elections in Gujarat. Perhaps it nursed national ambitions too soon and failed to consolidate itself even in a small city state. Its current standing cast serious doubts about its prospects to be even in the fray for the next general elections.

Its energies would now have to be focused on Delhi alone. In case the party does not get relief and has to fight to retain 20 seats from where its MLAs have been disqualified by the Election Commission, it would face a huge uphill task. It would be particularly difficult with Congress showing signs of resurgence in some parts of the country. The political situation is completely different from what it was when AAP bagged 67 of the 70 Assembly seats in Delhi. At that time the Congress was completely wiped out but it is now in a position to put up some fight.

There may not be too much change in the state of the BJP, which remains as arrogant as it was after the 2014 mandate, but it would be a force to reckon with if elections to 20 seats are held in Delhi. It would also be an acid test for the BJP before it goes for seeking re-election in 2019.
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All this reflects that the party, which had once promised to change the way politics is done in the country, has turned out to be no different from the others in the fray.
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Besides the political performance, the party has also let down itself as far as its own organisation is concerned. Party supremo Arvind Kejriwal has been having problems with virtually all the senior leaders who were founding members of the party. These include Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav and a host of other senior leaders who have been expelled. The latest to publicly air his differences is party stalwart Kumar Vishwas.

He, like several other senior party leaders, objected to the decision of Kejriwal to nominate two moneybags rather than senior party leaders or eminent persons as party candidates for Rajya Sabha. The two leaders he nominated had not been active leaders of the party and had done nothing to deserve the nomination. Kejriwal, however, refused to relent and even declined to comment on his decision.

Besides, over a dozen of its MLAs in Delhi are facing criminal charges and have been to the jail. Kejriwal has to remove at least two of his ministers after they were convicted. There have been allegations of favouritism and corruption against some other MLAs too.

All this reflects that the party, which had once promised to change the way politics is done in the country, has turned out to be no different from the others in the fray. It is a huge disappointment because the party was seen as a ray of hope by the people who were banking on it to provide a clean and efficient administration. Its downhill slide, and the inability of any regional party to expand its base, is paving way for the return of a BJP-Congress contest along with their electoral allies.
 
  
*(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career. This article was also published by lokmarg.com and is being published by Punjab Today under special arrangement with that portal. - Ed)
 

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