Missing the point

The Aam Aadmi Party has also fallen foul of not adopting the simplistic view of India which the older parties have.

Updated: January 12, 2014 6:29 am
The older parties are still dealing with Partition. The older parties are still dealing with Partition.

The national political mood is very febrile. The two big old parties had settled down to their usual battle on the secular/communalist border. Now there is a new kid on the block and the oldies are uncertain as to what the battle is about. But even so, they never miss an opportunity to miss the bus whenever the M (minority/Muslim) issue comes up. Something about the M issue makes their minds go numb and they settle into fixed positions whatever the facts.

The recent news that the Lashkar-e-Toiba was found recruiting in Muzaffarnagar had one simple fact that could have been celebrated; namely that the LeT did not succeed in recruiting anyone. Local Muslims did not behave like cardboard characters in the way both the Congress and BJP have made them out to be. Rahul Gandhi had jumped the gun and given us a garbled version of the story. His aim was to point a  finger at the BJP, which had allegedly fomented the riot and alienated local Muslims, so that they were soft targets for the LeT. Not to be left behind, the BJP is breathing fire about lapses in national security when all that has actually happened is that LeT operatives were caught thanks to the locals in UP. Rejoice! Pakistan’s simplistic views about Indian Muslims are disproved.

The Aam Aadmi Party has also fallen foul of not adopting the simplistic view of India which the older parties have. When it comes to Kashmir, the older parties have a schizophrenic view. Kashmir is an integral part of India but unlike any other part of India, no discussion is allowed about its people. Prashant Bhushan, who is not an ignoramus (as he has been portrayed), wondered whether the people of J&K had a view about the  presence of the Army and AFSPA. This is a question over which Irom Sharmila has been fasting for many long years. We have reports that people living under AFSPA do not like it. Why can someone not raise such a question? Is India so touchy about Kashmir that it is beyond discussion? Why does the junior gang of the Sangh Parivar feel it necessary to vandalise the offices of AAP? Is this going to be a regular if the BJP comes to power?
Let us hope not. But that may be why the old style of politics is looking so old. The older parties are still dealing with Partition. Both have problems about viewing Indians as Indians. Indians for them  are Hindus, minorities or Muslims, and the nondescript rest who may be minorities but cannot be called so. Every Indian has to carry an identity which can then be treated to decide their vote bank as far as the oldies are concerned.

This is also the way the Mandal parties understand India; as a collection of exotic identities. After 1989, when the Congress hegemony ended, the Mandal parties flourished. Their history begins not in 1947, but in 1977 at the end of the Emergency. They take a narrow local view of India, much like a kaleidoscope reflecting shards of broken coloured glass. For them, more reservations for separate identities is better.

Is it not time then, 67 years after Independence, to begin thinking of Indians as Indians? This is what the message of AAP seems to be. Delhi is a microcosm of the nation. There is no reason to treat it as the old parties and Mandal parties tend to do — a collection of fragments. AAP innovated and thought of all Dilliwalas as citizens  whose demands needed urgent attention. This idea can be extended across India and this is the secret behind the sudden upsurge of support for AAP.

The Congress has given up the ghost. The BJP faces a new challenge. Narendra Modi was the ideal villain for the Congress. But that fight is no longer relevant. The issue will not be 2002 or Article 370. It will be governance — but not as a code for a strong prime minister versus a weak PM. It will be governance as a problem of citizens to be solved — not from above but by harnessing the energy at the grass-roots, which can be generated if the people are given a voice. Can the BJP handle that?

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  1. C
    chandra
    Jan 12, 2014 at 9:59 pm
    i am surprised that Indian express has given space to this man who hates Indian system
    Reply
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      AftabKhan
      Jan 13, 2014 at 2:51 pm
      Did Desai has ever govern any Indian govt.? if no than why he as outsider is giving his opinion? Let AAP do their work.
      Reply
      1. A
        Anil Bharali
        Jan 14, 2014 at 3:22 am
        The missing point in Desai's writing is that that the poverty and the feudal and the capitalist driven social injustices are the main evils of the society .AAP is targeting that point as the powerful minority- the corrupt & criminals on side and majority the honest and law binding society on the other side.The vertically divided indian society at this moment from the ordinary to the capitalists is the reality not very prominent as backward and forward as considered earlier.
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          Priyanka
          Jan 16, 2014 at 12:21 am
          kejriwal started well but he slipped the moment he went and asked the support of the cleric thinking that muslims will vote only if he gets the approval of the clergy. That way he is also like any other politician. Also nowadays with the bonhomie he is showing with congress and refusing to take action against shiela by asking for proof makes one feel that he is dreaming to be PM with congress support
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          1. D
            dhananjai
            Jan 15, 2014 at 8:29 am
            somehow i lost the subject of this article.
            Reply
            1. P
              Prateek
              Jan 13, 2014 at 10:00 am
              This article itself is quite simplistic. There are larger geopolitical games with strategic portents going on in the region. US exits Afghanistan this year, and there is a w swarm of foreign trained and battle hardened terror seeking militia ready to by pushed into Kashmir. While people's opinion is important, to speak of it (as Mr. Bhushan did) in the context of AFPSA in J&K with the backdrop of the US withdrawal is mischievous, to say the least. As far as Narendra Modi is concerned, he has got so much support due to the good governance he has given in Gujarat. So what exactly is the point this article is trying to make?
              Reply
              1. J
                Jyoti
                Jan 15, 2014 at 4:48 am
                Good. Let us start thinking Indians as Indians. Stop dividing the country on the basis of religion and caste.
                Reply
                1. K
                  Komaal Rani
                  Jan 14, 2014 at 12:08 pm
                  Sir, very well put .
                  Reply
                  1. H
                    H.K. Satija
                    Jan 15, 2014 at 8:23 am
                    I agree with the views. I may add that no political party i.e. Congress, BJP or AAP may make it next time unless a clear vision of Indian citizens basic requirements possibility in the near future is visible. The boat of situation on which India is sailing presently shows that we are really heading towards democracy now but it will take many more years to succeed in this direction.
                    Reply
                    1. S
                      Satya
                      Jan 12, 2014 at 8:28 am
                      Very sane. Will the oldies listen?
                      Reply
                      1. S
                        Swaranjeet Singh
                        Jan 14, 2014 at 4:01 am
                        The reactions here just prove Meghnad's point . . . we all miss the point . . . so strong is our conditioning . . . sad very sad
                        Reply
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