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Issue No.: 561 | March 2014

Changing political landscape in India

Bapu Satyanarayana
After the emergence of AAP and particularly Kejriwal, who occupies a larger than life image, there is a paradigm shift in the outlook of people who have become more vocal exhibiting their intolerance towards criminality and corruption

The Churning

Ever since Anna Hazare sat on a fast in April 2011 to fight against corruption through the instrument of Jan Lokpal Bill, the political developments in India suddenly picked up momentum. It seems to have released the long suppressed pent up feelings to speak against the oppressive dynastic rule. In its wake there is apparent chaos in the political developments and emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) with its Chief Minister (CM) Arvind Kejriwal, symbolizing this anarchy.

One may be tempted to christen him a political maverick due to his unorthodox methods. The home minister Sushilkumar Shinde called him ‘mad’ CM but his image of incorruptibility and his courage has captured the imagination of people and has sustained their belief in him despite some contradictions. For example, there appears to be a desperate attempt to lure AAP MLAs with money power. AAP MLA Mohanlal in a press conference said,"I was offered Rs.20 crore to be a part of the BJP government. I don’t have the recordings of these calls but I hope you believe what I say.”

It is tempting to compare what is happening in Delhi to an incident in Ramayana when Hanuman was trying to rescue Sita. I would hazard a comparison of Kejriwal to brave Hanuman and Sita to the dire state of politics currently prevalent in India ensconced in criminality and corruption and the political manoeuvrings of the opposition as Ravana’s followers busied themselves to destroy Hanuman by setting fire to his tail. On the contrary Hanuman welcomes the attempt and creats chaos and havoc by his antics jumping from one place (issue) to another creating virtual political bedlam. This political churning that is sweeping across the country is probably the manifestation of restlessness and suppressed impatience eager to usher in a change, tired of hypocrisy and trust deficit between the people and the government.

The net result, as all present indications show, is that the beneficiary of this change is the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) because Narendra Modi continues to draw mammoth crowds. Besides, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s uncharacteristically extremely vicious utterance on Modi during his press conference on 3rd Jan 2014 was baffling, reminiscent of Sonia Gandhi’s maut ka saudagar remark during the Gujarat assembly elections. Probably his advisors made a serious error of judgment for it is going to boomerang on the electoral fortunes of the Congress Party. Referring to Modi, the PM said that if he becomes the Prime Minister it would be a disaster. He elaborates "If by strong Prime Minister you mean that you preside over the mass massacre of innocent citizens in the streets of Ahmedabad – if that is the measure of strength I do not believe that’s the type of strength the country needs least of all from a Prime Minister.” It is almost laughable when Manmohan Singh says that Rahul Gandhi has outstanding credentials and ironically Rahul’s TV interview on 27th January with Times Now anchor Arnab Goswami, was such a pathetic display that it prompted even Congress le
aders to dub the TV Chat as a ‘Dud’ (Deccan Herald, 28th January, 2014).

Thus when both the Prime Minister and Rahul Gandhi have virtually become his allies instead of political opponents, Modi’s hands are strengthened. Lately, the veteran NCP leader Sharad Pawar defended his meeting with Modi. Now the only threat Modi faces is from AAP which has become a thorn in his flesh and hence all attempts are being made to destabilize AAP government in Delhi. It is to be seen whether AAP will play the spoil sport to stop the BJP juggernaut. Meanwhile there is a regrouping of other parties to form a third front nursing ambition to thwart the design of both BJP and the Congress in the coming General Elections due in April-May 2014.

Some specific instances that throw light on some serious impact on issues

  1. Whatever defence both the Congress and BJP may put forth, it is obvious that the passing of Lokpal Bill in the Parliament was due to the impact of AAP.
  2. In the present political system the CM of Delhi and his cabinet have virtually no power. The crucial decisions of Delhi Government are controlled by the Centre and the Lieutenant Governor. That is why Kejriwal went on a dharna on the issue of suspending three police officers who defied the order of the Home Minister Somnath Bharati. It is only when two of them were sent on leave, did Kejriwal give up the dharna. He may not have achieved his objective fully but at least as Yogendra Yadav of AAP says it is a small window of opening. Of course the opposition including the UPA government criticized CM’s action as unprecedented and called it anarchy. When an agitation becomes violent it can be called anarchy whereas in the present case Kejriwal not only disposed off files and held cabinet meetings, there was no destruction of property. How can it be called an act of anarchy? On the contrary the destruction of 20 toll booths by the MNS followers in Maharashtra was an act of anarchy.
  3. Now Kejriwal has come up with his ‘corrupt list’. For the first time he named both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi. Lately AAP has released tapes in connection with the 2G spectrum scam implicating Karunanidhi, the DMK patriarch.
  4. It may be recalled that the Governor of Maharashtra had rejected the findings of CBI in Adarsh Building scam which implicated six chief ministers of Maharashtra including Ashok Chavan and the Home Minister of UPA, Sushilkumar Shinde. However the UPA government supported the Governor’s action and while baling out the chief ministers, named 12 bureaucrats instead; but when pressure mounted and the Supreme Court took up the issue, there was rethinking and Ashok Chavan’s name has been included. This is because of the environment of intolerance against corruption created by the AAP.
  5. It appears the AAP’s influence has not spared even the President of India whose Republic Day speech as been characterised as political. Kuldip Nayar under the heading ‘It’s politics Mr. President’ opined that what Mukherjee said is generally correct but implied that because of the constitutional post he occupies, the President should have refrained from uttering views that would have been more appropriate if he were in the government. 
  6. We have seen the above syndrome in the case of R.K. Singh who after retirement as home secretary to the Home Minister Shinde accused him of some grave charges. It can only be inferred as the AAP effect.
  7. A curious transformation took place in Rahul Gandhi when the pressure from the Party workers to name him the prime ministerial candidate mounted. The Congress President Sonia Gandhi in no uncertain terms dismissed it saying that is not the way the Party works to the great disappointment of sycophantic followers. It must be noticed that all along Rahul was distancing himself from facing such a possibility and was very uneasy. Had the Congress been in a position of strength he would have probably welcomed it but the reality that the Party is struggling to survive and putting him forward as their PM candidate would have been a personal and political disaster. After Sonia Gandhi’s clarification Rahul was full of confidence and vigour when he addressed the AICC Session.
  8. After the emergence of AAP and particularly Kejriwal, who occupies a larger than life image, there is a paradigm shift in the outlook of people who have become more vocal exhibiting their intolerance towards criminality and corruption. 
The net effect of all that has happened in the past few months is that in the forthcoming general elections all the political parties would be forced to field persons with a clean image. Even if they do not succeed fully the AAP effect would have done a significant service in a span of 15 months which noteworthy electoral reforms could not achieve. That is why despite many drawbacks people are now generally well disposed and sympathetic towards AAP and belying the fond hope of the opposition, AAP is here to stay. As of now the Party has almost met its target of recruiting one crore members which is no mean achievement for a fledging new party.

H. R. BAPU SATYANARAYANA is a freelance writer based
in Mysore. Email:





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