Tuesday, Sep 16, 2014

Out of my mind: Swept Away

Once Arvind Kejriwal resigned from office, it was clear that the party had problems. Once Arvind Kejriwal resigned from office, it was clear that the party had problems.
Written by Meghnad Desai | Posted: June 1, 2014 12:14 am

resources, and people’s goodwill, in spreading itself too thin.

After the election, AAP has behaved worse than the Congress in learning from its mistakes. It remains a party dominated by its leader and he, in turn, has juvenile dreams of being in the headlines, for the sake of which he is willing to waste the time of courts in a childish quarrel. The recent recruitment of names to its central body has been by invitation, not election. It wants to be a party of worthy names, who parachute themselves to the top of the party while chanting their commitment to the grassroots.

It is a sad story. A colossal waste of a great opportunity. A young party full of idealism has been poisoned by publicity-seeking leadership. The grassroots have been cynically used for the greater glory of the leader. It is almost as if there is something in the political DNA of the country that parties with internal democracy and genuine respect for membership are impossible to sustain. They all deteriorate into leadership affairs — personal or dynasty-based.

Even so, AAP has shown that if you start small, a modern membership-based party can be built. If it works hard to connect with its local public and seeks out its grievances, it may even win local elections. Then, if it stays modest and sincere, it can deliver on its promises, it could be re-elected. Such a party needs a clear ideology, not just sloganeering or a single plank as AAP had.

Maybe there will be a new party. In a country crowded with identikit left populist parties, there may be a genuinely modern liberal party, not pro-business but pro-competition. A party of young people willing to dismantle the old structures of tired Fabianism with which the Anglophile sentimentality of our founding fathers saddled India. The rest of the world has jettisoned that philosophy. Time for India to catch up.

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