The bubble of euphoria that is making a disturbingly large number of Indians see the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in soft focus needs to be pierced before it is too late. And, as someone who has been wary of Arvind Kejriwal, Anna Hazare and friends from day one, I consider it my duty to perform this task. It will make me less popular than I already am with Leftists, secularists, Stalinists, Leninists et al, but I did not become a political columnist to win a popularity contest. So the venom they spew worries me not one bit. The truth is I worry much more when they agree with something I say, and it is partly because of their unstinting support for AAP that I feel the need to start ringing alarm bells.
No matter how good AAP looks at the moment, no matter how humble Kejriwal’s demeanour and how sweet the song he sang at his inaugural, we need to be very, very careful. Incidentally, the song that he said was the AAP anthem is from an old Hindi film called Paigham, and it was disingenuous of him not to mention this. I thought it had been written by AAP’s resident poet and was quite astonished when a friend pulled it up on YouTube and I spotted Dilip Kumar and Vyjayanthimala in starring roles. But, a small deception compared to the bigger deception that AAP is trying to pull off politically and economically, with the unstinting support of Leftist hacks and a caboodle of semi-retired ‘professionals’ who have leapt on the AAP bandwagon. These include bankers, businessmen, dancers and IT whiz kids, most of whom appear not to have noticed that the economic policies AAP stands for are the opposite of those they made their money from.
So let’s talk about AAP’s economic vision. It is usually best expressed by Prashant Bhushan, who unfailingly makes it clear that he despises the private sector for ‘looting’ resources that in his view belong to the people of India. He forgets that this is exactly what Jawaharlal Nehru and Indira Gandhi believed, so they banned the private sector from most areas of enterprise and poured people’s money into the public sector. It was when public sector companies failed to make profits (except for corrupt officials) that the private sector was allowed in, but only in a small way. No matter what the losses of ‘Coalgate’ and 2G, they are minuscule compared with the losses caused by coal that burns in underground fields and the natural gas that is wasted daily because public sector companies do not have the technology to exploit it.
AAP’s ideologues know that corrupt officials have ruined India. That is why there was the movement led by the mighty Anna Hazare for a strong Lokpal. But what is puzzling is AAP’s solution. This in one simple sentence is: we know officials can be corrupt, so we must give more power to honest officials to catch the corrupt ones. Where are these honest officials going to come from and how long will they stay honest? And, if private investment is so evil, where is the money going to come from to give the ‘aam aadmi’ free electricity, water, schools and healthcare?
AAP’s political vision is so frightening that if implemented (may the gods have mercy!), it could turn India into a Stalinist police state. Citizen Kejriwal has asked every citizen of Delhi to start conducting private ‘sting’ operations on officials who ask them for a bribe or indulge in other forms of corruption. What happens then? Will there be a guillotine in Vijay Chowk to which these officials will be led or will they be tried by an already clogged justice system? And, when every citizen becomes a policeman, what happens to the rule of law?
As for AAP’s more gimmicky political ideas, these have already started to die their own death. All that drama about using public transport for the inaugural at Ramlila Maidan was just drama. Because the very next day Kejriwal gave his ministers Innova cars. And, all that talk about living humbly was just talk because the chief minister is now looking for a ‘smaller’ house, but smaller than two five-bedroom houses is not exactly small. As for the new ministers, will they be living in the filthy alleys and squalid bazaars in which the ‘aam aadmi’ lives in Delhi, or will they find ‘small’ houses in more salubrious areas?
It will not be long before even the most gullible new voters see through the deceptions of AAP, but it is important that the deceptions become apparent before the 2014 general elections. Recent polls indicate that Kejriwal is being seen as a more credible prime minister than Rahul Gandhi. Can you hear the sound of those alarm bells?
Follow Tavleen Singh on Twitter @ tavleen_singh