Editorial: Travails Of AAP - When Thieves Fight

Editorial: Travails Of AAP - When Thieves Fight

FPJ EditorialUpdated: Monday, May 20, 2024, 03:18 AM IST
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For a party barely a decade or so old, the Aam Aadmi Party does have a knack of hogging the headlines. Birthed in an atmosphere of intense popular curiosity generated by Anna Hazare’s fast against corruption at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan in mid-2011, the political entity emerging from it soon strayed from its avowed mission, turning into any other party pursuing sheer pelf and power by whatever means possible. Not unlike most other parties AAP too became a one-leader outfit deep in the clutches of a crafty leader, Arvind Kejriwal. All those heady oaths about limiting the headship of the party to a single three-year term, enacting a strong anti-corruption ombudsman law, not accepting a penny without disclosing on its website the name and address of the donors, denying party membership to the corrupt and criminal elements et al were abandoned with contempt. A few public-spirited individuals who were drawn to the Hazare protest soon found themselves ejected out of AAP by Kejriwal. Only those who played second fiddle and did his bidding were welcome.

Upon first bursting into power in the Delhi Assembly polls held at the peak of the euphoria generated by Hazare’s anti-corruption campaign, and bolstered further by the promise of bijlee-pani free, the AAP from day one adopted a recalcitrant attitude towards the central government. Finger-pointing at others became its default mode. For any and every problem which proved beyond its mental and administrative capacities, and almost all civic problems came in this category, it blamed the Centre initially led by the Congress government and later by the BJP government. The Delhi Chief Minister was always right, nay infallible, while everyone else was doggedly wrong and ill-motivated. Media manipulation was its calling card. It was not long before the higher courts would order the AAP in response to a PIL to recoup the exchequer taxpayers’ money misused for party propaganda. Kejriwal has not returned a penny out of the tens of crores he was ordered to pay back by the courts. Even the courts have decided to ignore the non-compliance. Despite a raging controversy around the self-avowed aam-aadmi messiah who was always at pains to be seen in a cheap shirt, modest chappals and a five-rupee ballpoint pen in his chest pocket lavishing over Rs 50 crore of public funds on his luxury mansion too failed to shame into discarding his sham aam aadmi act. Inded, AAP is no different from other one-man outfits which, when all is said and done, are money-making vehicles for the controlling families. We have made this point in this space earlier and we make it yet again. Barring the CPI (M) and the BJP most other political parties are family enterprises out to enrich themselves at the cost of the people. Anyone sitting in Chennai or Lucknow, Mumbai or Patna is aware of the modest financial position of the dominant political families in their respective regions. They all had humble beginnings and are now rolling in ill-earned wealth. There is no other business than political business. Because the party-owners make money through questionable means it is natural for the followers too to dip in the public till. The classic case of the corrupt leading the corrupt.

As to the question why voters don’t reject the corrupt political dynasties, the answer lies in the fact that corruption has been internalised most of us, having entered the very entrails of the society. In some way even the most upright citizens have had to put up with petty corruption of the lowly babu in a government office in everyday life. That may explain the popularity of don-netas, the modern-day Robin Hoods who bilk the system and dispense a rough and ready justice to the poor and the needy. Here too the absence of a functioning system providing justice without prejudice to one and all allows the don-politicians to fill the huge lag in delivery of good governance.

To return to AAP, undoubtedly a lot of people were initially attracted to AAP in the hope that it would play by the rule-book, not trample over norms and proprieties and steer away from the endemic corruption and criminality which is the calling card of politicians. But again we were cheated, Kejriwal proved to be anti-thesis of an ideal leader, eagerly joining the corrupt and permissive cabal. He was in a great hurry to beat the old and established leaders at their corrupt and criminal game. Whether it is the liquor scam, or the Sheesh Mahal extravagance, or, now the Swati Maliwal scandal, the AAP boss has no qualm in willfully defying all norms of decent political behaviour. His overweening ambition for power could soon be his undoing. For, the resort to blackmail, bullying, even violence against senior bureaucrats and colleagues sooner than later will recoil on him. With the central government engaged in showing his true face, the AAP supremo may soon run out of evasive and diversionary ruses. The Maliwal scandal could prove the last straw that broke the camel’s back.

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