…is how I would describe my own feelings towards the Aam Aadmi Party and its leader Arvind Kejriwal. I suppose election-time is an occasion for high voltage drama everywhere in the world, although nowhere is it nearly as dramatic as in our country. Events of the last month and a half, though, have been pretty much unprecedented even by Indian standards–I would have been tempted to call it a revolution of sorts, except that I know well enough how quickly things can fizzle out here.
A fledgeling political party by the name of Aam Aadmi Party, hitherto not taken too seriously by the others on the scene, rose to power in the state of Delhi, defying naysayers and forcing everyone to sit up and take notice.
On the face of it, AAP’s meteoric rise wasn’t really surprising– Delhi was after all, the seat of the hugely popular Anna movement, with which Arvind Kejriwal was intimately associated. When the AAP came into being in the wake of the Anna movement, it had a kind of halo of reflected glory around it. After that, it was merely a question of capitalizing on the prevailing anti-incumbency feelings in the electorate, which, to Kejriwal’s credit, he did very well and with great zeal and conviction.
What was very surprising was what happened in the aftermath of AAP’s win in Delhi– hordes of people across the country joined the AAP in the past month . These include artists (Mallika Sarabhai), journalists(Ashutosh of IBN7) and bigwigs of the corporate sector(Meera Sanyal, Captain Gopinath et al). Young white collar executives chucked their jobs to be part of this movement. The AAP’s message against corruption obviously struck a huge chord with the public –there has been a spectacular groundswell of hope and optimism across the country, the likes of which I have not seen . Kejriwal has became this messianic figure who is being looked up to by millions of his country-people as the man who will change the rules of the game forever.
The BJP, which had so far looked very likely to come to power in the Lok-Sabha elections, now feels the ground slipping under it’s very feet even as it looks on in horrified disbelief. The Congress anyway expected to face a rout, so there is not much of a heartburn in the Congress camp. And this is why I feel so thankful for the emergence of AAP–that it provided people with an alternative to the Congress , with which they were seriously fed up, without having to support Narendra Modi who a lot of people were not comfortable with.
I harbour serious misgivings about the way the AAP proposes to go about the problems facing the country. I do suspect that Kejriwal is either naiive or disingenuous, though I’d love to be proved wrong. I am very doubtful about his socialist agenda and the politics of subsidies. I am not sure he will be able to pull off what he says he wants to do. But I am thankful to Kejriwal for the gift of hope that he has given to so many people. No matter how big a cynic you are, it is difficult not to be infected with this hope. And most of all, I love it that the biggies on the political scene have some tough times ahead.