Going The ‘Janata’ Way?

Cracks in AAP

Kuldip Nayar

When movements get converted into political panics, they lose their original shape. The ethos of collective leadership takes a back-seat and personal assertion comes to the fore. Power gets concentrated in one person. In real, the leadership acquires the meaning of one-man rule, which becomes synonymous for the party.

It was expected that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would be different because it was a product of people's aspirations. The well-entrenched political parties like the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were run down because they had become part of the old furniture. When people see AAP going in the same direction, they feel betrayed because they thought that the party would introduce a new way of thinking, a fresh approach to politics—transparent, clean and open.

Unfortunately, the same one-man cult has taken over the party. Granted, Arvind Kejriwal was bound to occupy the central position because he was elected to lead the party which swept the polls in Delhi. Yet the ethos of the Aam Aadmi Party demanded that he would act as a leader of the equals. This is where the fault lies. Kejriwal tends to concentrate power in himself. Not only that, he was seen behind the ousting of the two co-founders of the party, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan from the Political Affairs Committee, the apex body for decision-making.

That Kejriwal had a majority in the party's executive does not mean that he would he the sole spokesman. Once there was a trial of strength, even the executive gave him a divided verdict, 11 to eight.

Every day new disclosures are coming out in the open. One is that Kejriwal had manoeuvred to oust from AAP the critics of his style of functioning. The second is that he is using his official position of Delhi's Chief Minister to bash his critics. His functioning is disconcerting.

The party's own Lokpal has also expressed his unhappiness over the manner in which AAP is functioning. He has expressed his helplessness. It is heartening to know that he is not accepting defeat but has appointed an inquiry committee for a probe. Probably, he should have threatened to quit to jolt the party and make it realise that the functioning of Kejriwal is far from healthy.

AAP is a child of a movement which Anna Hazare initiated against corruption. Why has he not taken upon himself the task to ensure that those who control the party act to complete the task of appointing a Lokpal (ombudsman) at the Centre to eliminate corruption in high places. Instead, Anna Hazare has run away from his responsibility and hidden his failure behind a movement against a land Bill.

Probably, Anna Hazare realises that his word would not be respected. This is precisely what the Gandhian Jayaprakash Narayan felt. He had founded the Janata Party, which appointed Morarji Desai as Prime Minister. The fact is that Morarji did not listen to JP. He should not have made him withdraw from the field. Instead, he should have joined issue with Morarji, who was only a creature of the JP movement.

Well, this writer recalls telling JP that the people voted at his behest and expected him to intervene to make the Central Government work according to the movement's ideals. He did not contradict but explained that his health did not allow him to go to the public again. This was another way of admitting that he did not want to join issue with Morarji, lest the Janata Party should get a bad name.

This was JP's rationalisation. He knew Morarji would not listen to him. It is not surprising that the Janata Party cracked up and practically died.

Anna Hazare can end the obsession of Kejriwal to kill dissent. The fact that he sits on dharna with Anna Hazare on the land Bill should not hide the fact that Kejriwal wants to oust the critics from the party. Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan are among the founders of AAP. Kejriwal has seen to it that they are out of the decision-making bodies. He does not realise that they have a large following of their own. He should not emulate the example of Morarji Desai, who destroyed the Janata Party, which had nominated him the Prime Minister, but did not accommodate others.

It looks as if AAP is going the way of Janata Party. It is a pity that the supporters of Kejriwal, instead of correcting his authoritarian methods, are going for the critics. He should know that if the AAP experiment fails, it would take years for an alternative to the Congress and the BJP to build.

[Courtesy : Tribune]

Vol. 47, No. 40, Apr 12 - 18, 2015