There is an understandable enthusiasm in general regarding the rise of the Aam Admi Party. It is understandable more on account of the pent up frustration of the people, especially the middle classes over the ways and means and performance of the reigning moguls of Indian polity and the distaste wider masses have developed for them, rather than the demonstrated ability or even a clear intent of AAP to deliver on an alternative development paradigm. Indeed the contours of AAP’s alternative are barely defined beyond all manner of pious intentions for the AAM admi.
A greater applause need however be reserved for the corporate controlled media for having given a wider expression to this middle class angst and its rooting for AAP. Let alone Mr Kejriwal, another of AAP leader, who was hitherto a little known Hindi poet, is turned into a household name for having declared his intent to challenge the scion of the main ruling class party of the country in his home turf.
In comparison it would be interesting to know how many of the ‘aam admi’, beyond the narrow circle of activists, here in Delhi or other places where AAP fever is catching up, know how much about the struggle of people in Jagatsinghpur and the tribals of Kalinganagar (both the places are in Odisha) against threat of displacement and loss of livelihoods to be caused by steel plants that are proposed by conglomerates like the POHANG Steel or South Korea and the TATA Steel. Or the struggle of Dongaria tribals of Niyamgiri against the aluminium major Vedanta. It would be a cause ce`le`bre if even 1 percent of Delhities were to actually know the names of the leaders of these movements. And yet the most ‘aam’ of the ‘aam Indians’ at these places and many more such have had to defy the entire might of the Indian state, at the cost of sacrificing lives, to stand their ground. The comfort of foreign funded NGO activism was beyond their conceptualization and could not have served the launching pad for their kind of struggles.
Not that the corporate media does not cover these struggles, but does so just to mark its calender of events, in a manner that is safe for the system. Indeed, it would be a mistake to underestimate the power of this media which could make Lord Ganesha drink milk from America, to Pakistan, to India within 24 hours, even if only for a day. Its power to spin successes and failures has only grown many folds since then.
This understanding regarding AAP notwithstanding, one still has to give credit to them for having successfully tapped into the resentment among the people against the more established sections of the ruling classes.The question still remains what is the alternative governance and development paradigm that they can possibly offer beyond pious intents? The signs in this respect do not seem to be particularly promising.
To expand the party’s base in Haryana, the prospective chief ministerial candidate of AAP in Haryana, Dr Yogendra Yadav has been reported to be wooing the KHAPS. Addressing media persons at Karnal on the 11th of Jan he is reported to have said – “No one can justify murders at any cost and we
also condemn such things. But khaps have also done various positive activities and it should be appreciated.” It is another thing that he said little by way of expanding on their positive activities.
Khaps have come to symbolize the most reactionary of the feudal forces in the parts where they reign and indeed in Muzaffarnagar they have been the most brazen agency for communal mobilization and killings. Dr Yadav sure knows that it is not the ordinary Jat who controls the Khaps but the most feudal big landlords. While Dr Yadav may well be willing to reinvent Khaps as an expedient to expanding his party’s base, this can give little comfort to those on the wrong side of the feudal hierarchies – the dalits, the OBCs, the minorities and the women, especially as this shows AAP’s willingness to tie up with such forces in other states as well.
Khaps apart, AAP has also been dodging the issue of coming forthright on the question of reservations for the oppressed castes. While its evading a clear stand on the issue may well be an exercise in pragmatic politics, historically speaking this has dangerous portents as regards leveraging the interests of the most marginalized of the Indians in the governance of the country. One can only add to this the multi-fold uncertainties of their as yet undeclared economic policy framework. Just because they put up the amounts received in donation from big industrialists on their website is no guarantee that they would take cudgels with them in securing the interests of the common man; rather it portends much the reverse.
While, we can let the Aam Admi Party succeed or fail on its own merits, merely critiquing the developments as they are does not help the common man’s cause beyond a point. All the progressive forces and individuals anxious regarding the future of our oppressed working masses need to engage with the developments with ever more commitment to build ground struggles centering around common man’s cause.