It’s barely a year after launching his Aam Admi Party (AAP) that Arvind Kejriwal has made inroads into the capital and ousted three-term occupant Sheila Dixit. It is a clear message that the common man, rather the thinking common man, is thoroughly disillusioned with both the existing major parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
The former Indian Revenue Service officer and Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur graduate has shown his organizational acumen by reaching out to NRIs as well as slum dwellers, By door-to-door visits he obtained ration cards and Aadhar cards to give them a hold in the “System” they craved to be part of. :Cometh the hour, cometh the man,” they say and his emergence after the Anna Hazare movement has only proved it.
The AAP’s achievement is the closest to the Telugu Desam Party’s (TDP) in March 1982 when N T Rama Rao swept the polls. TDP leader and former MP, K Rajmohan Rao said it is evident “that people clearly want change.” He added, however, that NTR was already a star and had a great following all over South India.” Considering that, Kejriwal’s achievement is even greater
Another party to make a stunning entry into politics was the Asom Gana Parishad (AGP), also in the 1980’s. After a six-year agitation against “illegal immigrants” and signing the Assam Accord with Rajiv Gandhi’s government. in 1983, the All-Assam Students Union (AASU) morphed into the AGP and went on to win the polls in 1985.
Atul Bora, AGP working president, also saw similarities between then and now in the AAP. “We too were an aam admi party, if you look closely. We fought the elections soon after our formation and won them. We too were opposed to the Congress corruption then. We think what happened then will happen during the general elections,” he said hopefully.
But that may not be so as the time to the elections is too short. The ripples of the AAP achievement are already being felt in other states like Maharashtra and Goa. Unless it is a reaction swell like the anti-gangrape agitation after December 16, but these things do not happen so quickly.
The Congress on the other hand has sunk to new depths and it is not only the incumbency factor. It is lacking in either cadre or organizational structure and they often delude themselves into a false sense of well-being because of the loyalists they have cultivated over the generations.
Time was when Nehru could reach out to the aam admi by mingling with them. Not anymore. The common man wants deeds, not gestures and words. Since my schooldays I have heard the line ”better the known devil” but today the only relevant word is “devil”. These days they wait for the Opposition to defeat itself (as in Karnataka earlier this year) or charisma (whatever is left of it) to pull them through even if it seems like “Mission Impossible.” The Sonia-Manmohan duo has been in limbo for years. The Telangana decision was bad but the greatest blunder is their inability to hold the price line. Vegetables are beyond the reach of the common man with the onion virtually bringing tears to the eyes, and not just of the common man, and could well bring about a ”no bread, eat cake” situation.
Sonia herself must bear most of the blame. When she refused the Prime Ministership, we all hailed her decision. But little did we think that pulling the strings from behind was even more lethal and self-defeating--- power without responsibility. And in the bargain, it made Manmohan Singh impotent.
Also, the grandson of the first family has been failing quite spectacularly to establish any connect with the masses and for that reason the party has not yet named its Prime Ministerial candidate. Rahul’s Delhi rally was pathetic and whispers of Priyanka’s name are dented by the reputation of her real estate shark husband Robert Vadera.
Bihar’s Nitesh Kumar has all the makings of a national leader and, if the Third Front plays its cards judiciously, he may even be Prime Ministerial material. His work in the state speaks volumes for his administrative capacity. At one time he was ready to tie up with the Congress. But not any longer as it is a divided party with internal fissures and Sheila Dixit’s loss is attributed partially to this factor though she had earned enough enemies.
The Communist Marxist Party (CPM), another champion of the non-Congress and non-BJP, once breached the Congress fortress in Bengal and ruled for over 30 years. With Mamta Banerjee cutting a sorry figure and suffering from foot-in-mouth disease, they could very well pose a threat.
Then the Congress may be called upon to support the Third Front and by then the first family should be out of the reckoning and a new set up may well be the change they sorely need. Better late than never.
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