On Trial

No one has better reason to despise Congress than Arvind Kejriwal who had to pass through a nightmarish experience, including humiliation and physical intimidation, during the Anna Hazare sponsored anti-corruption movement in 2012. Corruption in high places is his main plank but these days he is talking something more than Lokpal Bill and his appeal for a clean government seems to have extended the base from the middle class to upper middle class, NRIs and opinion makers in the media. His party—the Aam Admi Party (AAP) that was born only a year ago—is now the focus of attention, locally and nationally as well. No doubt the lotus party—Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)—has predictably done well in the recently held assembly elections in four states but AAP has done even better though it fought only in Delhi. Encouraged by the Delhi’s victory they have begun to think beyond Delhi, hoping to field candidates in 380 districts across the country in the up-coming General Election that is just five months away. It is one thing to inspire educated middle class people who are always afraid to take much risk even in human rights movement but it will be a tough task to attract attention of millions of disgruntled youth who see no future in Modi or Rahul Gandhi. Raised expectations bring with it enormous responsibility to meet them. AAP’s stunning success in Delhi is based on a unique model that is basically urban centric. Whether it can be applied beyond town and cities is open to question. That people are looking for an alternative to Congress and BJP despite the latter’s electoral gains in the recently held assembly polls in four states is a fact of life.

If anything AAP has no specific economic agenda to counter the juggernaut of globalisation without which their propaganda against food-inflation will fail to deliver. As it is an urban enterprise in the main they have no land policy as well. Unless they succeed in offering concrete measures to tame inflation and price rise their mere talks of Lokpal Bill will fail to influence ordinary people.

The hard reality is that the industry is not totally unhappy with the outcome of poll results. While some industrial tycoons viewed the decline of the Grand Old Party—Congress—as a result of poor political leadership coupled with unconvincing and wavering approach to corruption, some identified AAP as the symbol of honest politics. The Chambers of Commerce, however, lost no time to urge the winning parties to take steps for generating employment by boosting industrial growth and giving tax holidays. And there lies the crux of the matter. Their interest lies in incentives and it will remain so even in the absence of Congress.

People look too eager to react because they are hard pressed to cope with the systematic erosion of purchasing power. So far AAP has no plan to address national problems that affect toilers, tribals, the marginalised and the unemployed most. Nor does BJP promise a better prescription to improve the economic situation for the men in the street. Also, they have no magic wand to chase the wild goose called inflation because both Congress and BJP are in the same global boat that cannot accommodate the under-privileged and non-privileged. The rules of the game are set by the captains of the corporate world while politicians come and go without destabilising the status quo.

Once bitten twice shy the Congress Strategy Committee headed by Jayram Ramesh, is now busy to dissect the ‘Black Sunday’—the day (December 8) when poll results were out, hopefully to minimise frustration that has gripped their rank and file.

For BJP what looked like a ‘cake-walk’ which it was not really, in four states, it might be a losing business in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar where voters from the minority community can tilt the balance in any election. How people continue to live in living hells called ‘refugee camps’ in Muzzaffarnagar beggars description. And the ‘Modi wave’ as they would like to dub it, is unlikely to click in the crucial state of Uttar Pradesh which is actually Bharat.

Meanwhile, regionalists see in the pattern of voting in the much talked about Delhi polls, a possibility of third front—neither pro-Congress, nor pro-BJP. They think people everywhere will vote for a credible alternative if available to them as in Delhi. No doubt it is a mandate against Sonia Gandhi and Rabul Gandhi. Maybe this is the beginning of the end of the Nehru dynasty. But dynastic virus is prevalent in all parties, big and small, and it is more perverted in some regional outfits.

Come what may one thing is certain. Parliamentary left has no future at least in the immediate future. The CPM contested in 51 seats in the four state assemblies—36 in Rajasthan, eight in Madhya Pradesh, four in Chattisgarh and three in Delhi. They lost all the 51 seats and in most cases their deposits were forfeited. What is more even a four time lone CPM-MLA from Rajasthan was defeated. They are totally detached from masses, they are not fighting for the oppressed. Being part of the establishment they are the worst worshipper of the status quo.

For the past few decades people have been forced to choose between two binaries, neighter of which are friends to the downtrodden. Maybe, AAP is a brake, in a small locality. This parliamentary system assures that poor have no honour, innocence value, right to life and no contribution to make. Though unrest is not as confinable as the powers that be keep trying to define it. Mass anger is all pervasive, but the left has no role to play in parliamentary and extra-parliamentary struggles. They are just passengers. In parliamentary game some players are wonderful but as a whole the profession of politics has been pretty dismal in this biggest show-case of electoral democracy since the days of Nehru.

Vol. 46, No. 24, Dec 22 -28, 2013

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