AAP and its brand of local activism

I admit it, I have been a skeptic of AAP and its manifesto from day one. While I would like governmental fairplay and I would like a political party that has woken up and smelt the coffee and realized that government is supposed to be for the people and not above them, I found myself deeply disturbed by the kinds of poll promises made. I found distasteful Kejriwal’s call to arms to Delhiites asking all of them not to pay for electricity. It’s one thing to say that if you have evidence of doctored meters or of mismanagement hiking up the rates. But to say that any citizen has the right to use and not pay for resources is asinine. The promises of free water and electricity I found as gimmicky as those of any other party. But when it comes wrapped in a thick muffler of self-righteousness, it’s more dangerous than when it comes as the typical self-aggrandizing of a mai-baap dyed-in-the wool politician, because by now the Indian public has learnt to see through it. 

But now the Khirki incident has taken the muffler off and the public can see the truth that’s out there. Any minister who, when he receives a complaint from some disaffected factors in his constituency, decides to act on it like a vigilante and refuses to follow procedures even when someone is advising him of it, is not to be let off easily, even by those who desperately want to believe in the new party. What makes a further mockery of it is that this is the Delhi Minister for Law. What on earth prevented him from listening to the other side – the people complained about – rather than getting them dragged out of their homes? Why did he decide to override the police who advised him on due process, regardless of whether or not he suspected them of being hand in glove with the alleged criminal elements? Why did he decide he was above the constitution and the basic notion of justice, which is fair play? 

Why did Kejriwal the righteous decide that it was his job to stage a dharna asking for the cops to be suspended rather than suspend his Law Minister during the enquiry? Why did AAP decide that no enquiry was required into Somnath Bharti’s action? How did the party decide that the complainant’s word was above that of the victims of the Khirki raid? Is the party unaware of the deep, ingrained racism of India, particularly against people of colour or anyone with a non-mainstream lifestyle? If they are unaware maybe they have lived in a paper bag for the last several years. If they are not unaware, they should have been all the more determined on seeing justice and fairplay rather than a one-man show of vigilante justice. Added to their plans for a citizen force, it sounds like vigilante justice coupled with Kangaroo courts will replace the constitution if they have their way. 

If they are truly ‘the party with a difference’, they, like ‘Caesar’s wife’, need to conduct themselves with a higher moral compass than other parties. They cannot storm people’s homes like a lumpen mob, stating ignorance of the law and procedures as an excuse. They cannot be one-sided in listening to the public, they have to listen to all sides. And they cannot let their own members off the hook for ignoring the law, while expelling those who have dared to disagree with the party leader. That’s paving the way for this to turn into yet another political party without a difference.

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