I am quite baffled by these elections as I do not think most of us know what we truly want. Early this year the capital of our country took a bold step and decided to vote for a new political party in spite of its being in its infancy. What was remarkable is that the support cut across caste, religion and social strata. I guess the reason was that they positioned themselves as a part that would fight corruption at all levels. Hence the overwhelming support they got form the poorer sections of society was understandable. But I was surprised at the kind of people who told we they were voting AAP: the owner of a upmarket store, my doctor, my old friend known to be a long time supporter of a political party and so on. It seemed that everyone was fed up with the existing political system and wanted change. People believed in them and gave them their trust. The mood was euphoric. Everyone truly felt that the humble broom would transform into a magic wand at the stroke of midnight and solve all problems. One can understand the elation of the poor who saw dreamt of free water and cheap electricity and the hope of the perennially extended hand of the policemen vanish, but what about us who voted with alacrity, did we stop to ponder before believing?
What happened next is for all to see. Sleeping with the enemy to acquire power. Was it hubris or falling into a well honed trap? Perhaps a bit of both as power is the most potent drug on earth and when it comes so close, few if any can resist it and though they did not expect it, how could they resist. I guess we who casted our vote in favour of this new party, never felt they would come to power. It was a surprise for all. The wise thing would have been to desist from power and have another election that would have given a more definitive result.
The 49 days saw change that unfortunately was forgotten when the party demitted office. Few remember the audit of state run schools and hospitals of the simple fact that corruption at the lower end was contained. But we cannot cry over spilled milk. The reality is that an error of judgement at that time had brought a loss of faith in this party.
What we all forget is that this was a young party pitched against well oiled machines. We also forget that it was a movement that became a political party by force majeure and was perhaps not ready. An excellent article analyses the future of AAP and is worth reading. The author asks: The most important question facing the party is an existential one. It must define again, for its own self as to what role it seeks for itself in politics. Is it a third force challenging the Congress and the BJP or is it the second front challenging all politics? Does it seek power as an instrument of change or does it act as a political conscience keeper for the system as a whole? I believe most of us wanted it to be a political conscience keeper for the system in the first place. Once it had the structure, cadre and experience, then it could have pitched for power. Today it is at the verge of self destruction. The author feels it is important that the AAP experiment continue for it injects a vital element that has been missing in Indian politics. The AAP is attempting to redefine the very idea of democracy by making it a more participative practice. And just for that we must not write it off as such opportunities come once in a lifetime. One should not let it die.
The results are a mere two weeks or so away. Once the campaigning frenzy has died and the numbers are out, the party must do a sincere and honest evaluation of its journey and reinvent itself. Should they fail to do so, then they might just become a line in future history books.