What is being euphemistically referred to as the ‘implosion’ of AAP is in fact enactment of a play that had pretensions of a heroic tale but was, for all practical purposes, a slapstick show much too pathetic to be designated a farce. Arvind Kejriwal himself referred to his entourage as Shivaji ki baraat—a motley, unruly crowd wallowing in unbridled revelry protected and encouraged by their eccentric lord and master. Some, who never learn by experience, thought that in his second coming AK would show maturity and magnanimity. Most, however, apprehended that the landslide victory in the Delhi Assembly elections could only result in giving the great leader an even more swollen head. Their worst fears have now come to pass. Colleagues, once valued, have been ruthlessly booted out—their dissent drowned in vile abuse and with some flexing of muscle, it doesn’t matter whether hired or volunteered. The image of the democrat par excellence lies tattered. Followers loyal to the chief minister continue to vilify Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan and company, and one worthy during a TV debate suggested that the proceedings at the National Council were akin to a court martial, and while one may feel sad or sympathetic towards those at the receiving end, one must endure the pain to ensure that discipline is maintained. Now, this may surprise those who were naive enough to be mesmerised by this Pied Piper who struck a chord in every wannabe anarchist’s heart. It wasn’t very long ago when we were being reminded that this band of satyagrahis was inspired by the Father of the Nation who once proudly declared his anarchist leanings. It seems that the wheel has turned a full circle. Military—not recognised as a particularly democratic institution—is the model to be followed by AAP cadres. Slightest lapse in following the orders barked by superiors can result in disgraceful dismissal. This has been the fate not only of Yadav and Bhushan but also Admiral Ramdas, the party’s Lokpal. Medha Patkar had the good sense to resign before the firing squad could be lined up for her. Strong whiff of megalomania and paranoia is in the air.
Let the foregoing not give you the idea that writer is partisan in this ugly spectacle. What has disturbed us most is the cavalier manner in which basic tenets of natural justice have been dispensed with. Transparency and democracy within the party are issues best left to those who belong to it. But none can remain at ease with a leader at the helm of government who has utter disregard for due process of law. Nor should it be forgotten that on the eve of the National Council meet, a sting had gone viral on TV and social media that has been much too cursorily brushed aside. Those who perpetrated the sting operation have not covered themselves in glory. Some are proudly proclaiming that they had indeed worked for the defeat of AAP during the polls, but what is intriguing is that why then they haven’t been expelled from the party? The residents of Delhi are primarily concerned about governance issues in the capital. The electorate has voted AAP to power to keep the BJP out and annihilate the Congress, hoping that the new kid on the block will ensure better delivery of bijli paani, improve sadak, asptaal, school and perhaps try seriously to cope with housing problem and above all fight corruption. If AK is busy dosing organisational fires—or more likely igniting them— none of the promises is likely to be fulfilled. At the moment, the lynch mob can be let loose on a handful of traitors, but it will not be long before a nasty whirlwind will have to be reaped. Disillusionment has begun to set in. It is not going to be easy for the Delhi chief minister to pass on the buck or blame to the Lt Governor, Central government or ‘traitors’. Once upon a time, Mrs G had famously remarked as she set about to split the INC: “The party may not be with me, but the people are with me.” Kejriwal may for the moment gloat over his absolute control over the party, but will do well to spare some time from his extremely busy schedule to ponder how long he can take the support of the people—in Delhi and elsewhere—for granted.
The only people who are really relieved by these developments are arguably fans of MSD and blind worshippers of RaGa. As long as these shenanigans continue, no one is going to ask uncomfortable questions about the loss of thunder down or the exceptionally elastic sabbatical.
Pushpesh Pant is a former professor of International Studies at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi