No wave,just a tsunami

Arvind Kejriwal in his moment of triumph ought to discount his victory.

Written by Meghnad Desai | Published:December 15, 2013 5:48 am

There was no Modi wave. Of course,not. The Congress was reduced to 21 seats in Rajasthan without any help from Narendra Modi. The BJP did not need Modi as they had C P Joshi locked in battle with Ashok Gehlot,with Sachin Pilot looking helpless while Rahul Gandhi’s brilliant choice of candidates fought the elections. Nor did Shivraj Singh Chouhan need any help to get two-thirds majority in his third success. It was enough to have Jyotiraditya Scindia with his hands tied behind his back,lest he actually win the state. Strategists like Madhusudan Mistry handpicked by Rahul Gandhi were enough to lose Chhatisgarh as well. When they have such a brilliant team fielded against them,why would the BJP need Modi?

This is why Arvind Kejriwal in his moment of triumph ought to discount his victory. The Congress had abandoned Sheila Dikshit long ago,lest she win a fourth term and be a threat to you know who. Rahul duly turned up three hours late for a rally to boost Dikshit’s chances so that no one should be in any doubt how much he wanted her to win. All that food security launch,Aadhar card etc were just for the general elections. No way was the wrong woman going to get credit for those goodies.

The Congress knew a Modi wave was likely. To avert that,Rahul managed a tsunami. See how effective he can be at winning elections (for the Opposition)?

But there is more good news for the nation. When the Aam Aadmi Party was launched,I welcomed it. It is the first modern political formation in India since the Swatantra Party in 1960. Their economic philosophy is a polar opposite of Swatantra but they are an attempt to break the vacuous homogeneity of populist clientelist corruption which is common to all other parties. They have an open membership and people join not to seek tickets and line their pockets (thus far) but for an ideal. Urban modern India has been thrilled by the arrival of AAP.

Even so,these are early days. Radical,movement-based parties taste success at first but do not always repeat it. We need to see if AAP can be scaled up. Delhi is a municipality (or two),not a real state. You can do intense door-to-door canvassing with a few hundred volunteers. Mumbai will be different as the Shiv Sena used the same techniques 50 years ago and is entrenched there at street level. Kolkata is a perpetual battleground between the Trinamool Congress and CPM gangs for local control. No entry there.

Still,good luck to them. Their success has led the secular friends of the Congress to the new delusion that AAP shows there is room for an anti-Congress/anti-BJP party. Ergo,all regional parties will gain from this experience and stop the BJP,especially Modi,from winning. Alas,the premise is as false as the conclusion. AAP is anti-Establishment and thus parties such as the SP,BSP,RJD even JD(U) cannot steal its clothes. AAP is as anti-Congress as it will be anti-Lalu or Mayawati. If the Congress lovers want consolation,they better look elsewhere.

But not to Rahul. This election is unusual in as much as several long cycles in Indian politics are coming to a turning point,if not an end. The cycle begun by Indira Gandhi in 1969 concentrating and centralising all authority in the family has finally run its course. Dynasties end when a glittering succession of good rulers ends in one who has no vocation for the job. We are past Akbar and even Aurangzeb and staring at Shah Alam. The idea that Rahul will yet once more change the party and make it winnable shows that the Congress cannot see that the problem cannot be the solution. The nonchalance with which Rahul endorsed AAP and promised to follow its path showed that he is a dilettante in politics. He had just discovered a new App — the AAP app. He was going to buy it online and use it. Good luck to him and all who put faith in him.

So who gets the prize for the coming decimation of the Congress. Pehle AAP or Rahul?

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