Your message via Twitter after the defeat in the MCD elections shows your reflective mood: “The reality is obvious. Yes, we made mistakes, but we will introspect and course correct.” And you add: “The people deserve nothing less. The only thing constant is change.”
After months of brutal attacks on PM Narendra Modi and weeks of incessant attack on an otherwise earnest stroke of demonetisation followed by an orgy on EVMs, these words indicate a pensive state of affairs on your part. You stopped short of sorry.
I am reminded of the same sorry to the public and volunteers after our party’s abysmal performance in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, too.
What happened in Punjab and Delhi is not surprising. The anger, frustration, and a feeling of being duped had been building up among the Delhi public over the past two years. We came to power in Delhi with a promise of “Paanch Saal Kejriwal”, but Delhi public soon realised that the CM and the MLAs were busy propping up the party in other states. Naturally, the Delhi voters cast their verdict by abandoning us in MCD elections.
The same applies to party workers, too. After the Punjab assembly election results on March 11, I have been interacting with volunteers in Delhi on the ground. Our steadfast, committed volunteers were in the same boat — confused and disoriented — but was anyone available to listen to them and address the concerns?
After the apology of Lok Sabha elections, volunteers were promised a fair game in meetings at Constitution Club. They rallied behind you, toiled hard to get you 67 seats, but as soon as we got the victory, the attitude started changing.
In the last two years, the party has transformed into a private enterprise. You and the coterie you chose to surround yourself with have purposefully killed the very principles for which AAP was formed. I have no hesitation in saying that you did it so that your private club called AAP can ruthlessly concentrate power and pursue your design. Where were you in last several months when your own party’s volunteers and supporters were making fervent appeals to you for Chande kee paardarshita (restoration of donations online)? What has ‘forced’ you to hide public’s hard earned Chanda (donations) given to AAP while the party claims itself as a champion of politics of clean money?
Is it not a farce? How can we even talk of fighting corruption, when we are not willing to keep our accounts transparent?
Similarly, where were you when your own original volunteers in small or large groups were made to wait outside your residence over the last several weeks with complaints and concerns over ticket distribution, and allegations of ticket selling in MCD elections? They were largely unable to meet you. The women wing of Delhi –which propped up our party- today stands scattered despite 50 per cent seats being reserved for them in MCD elections. When it came to ticket distribution, women wing’s members were largely bypassed. There is widespread resentment in volunteers that tickets were sold and nepotism was widely practiced through dummy candidates. My question to you: In a largely volunteer-driven party, why did you mercilessly kill the concept of Swaraj (inner party democracy), despite our party claiming that “Satta neeche se upar aayegi?” On top of it, due to a dysfunctional internal Lokpal system, the complainants had no meaningful way to get their grievances resolved.
I can give you one very true feedback, which your coterie will never tell you. Volunteers of our own party played a significant role – albeit that energy might have been in a scattered manner- in defeating our own party in MCD elections. Some opposed, some chose to sit quite, some supported other candidates and some did Satyagraha, but they did what they could to register their protest to silencing of the principles for which AAP was created.
But, Arvind, four years down the lane, I am not inclined to listen to your usual farcical apology.
If you really mean ‘by going back to the drawing board’, then you must restore the three founding principles immediately because they constitute the original drawing board: Make donations public, set up Swaraj in an earnest manner, and create an ‘independent’ Internal Lokpal.
The cleaning process must start from you because that is where the rot has accumulated. As you said, the need is action and not excuses. True, that is why rather than ceremonial resignations of a few ‘leaders’ around you, must not they exit from PAC and NEC too? In last four years, the satta has revolved around a few chosen ones with often responsibilities changing as in musical chair game. Now, even the remotely sitting volunteer can see through that.
The buck starts with you and it stops with you. As a first step, are you willing to shed multiple responsibilities that you have accumulated around you? Let us start earnestly with our often-preached principle of one person: one post!
Aam Aadmi Party can still be a game changer, provided we stick to the idealism for which we came into politics. That will require statesmanship on your part, and not the politics of insecurity, gagging, manipulations and mudslinging that we have increasingly seen in the last two years.