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Almost 100 on honesty, but zero on vision and leadership... Now Kejriwal needs to learn the theory of 10,000 hours of practice


ARINDAM CHAUDHURI | New Delhi, April 10, 2014 20:41
Tags : Arindam Chaudhuri | AAP | Arvind Kejriwal | Kumar Vishwas | Jan Lokpal Bill |

AAP came up like no party had earlier! And is now on its way down as fast. But, has AAP lost its entire support base? Not at all! The poorer sections of the society, who are relatively less on education and understanding, are still firmly with them. AAP's non-stop claim about being an honest party has caught the fancy of these sections. And rightly so. This is a claim that is almost true. There are stray cases where people with a criminal background have gotten tickets; but by and large, I still believe AAP's intent is to remain non-corrupt. Compared to all others, they are the true "pavitra ganga jal" in this department. The lesser educated classes don't understand governance, vision, development, growth, stability and negatives of fascism; but they do understand honesty. It's a simple non-complicated term.

These classes are seeing social workers, who have been tirelessly working for them, getting tickets; people from their own fraternity getting tickets; and minus a few cases of people like Kumar Vishwas – who have been seen wearing designer shoes, jackets and gold chains – most AAP members look one of them, including Arvind Kejriwal with his muffler and regular bouts of coughing. So these sections do believe AAP is honest. And thus, when you go to a "Som bazaar" (a Monday market that is put up every Monday by roaming traders), you see all of them out there wearing AAP caps. The name Aam Aadmi has worked with this segment. This most awful and visionless symbol has worked with these classes, and the cap has worked too. Yes, this is largely Delhi based, but if AAP tomorrow gets resources and starts getting seen more often in other cities, it will work there too; but amongst the city poor only, at least as of now.

But is that good enough to win elections? Well, perhaps not. My gut analysis is that the wave is always created by the so-called middle class. They are the teachers, journalists, employers of maids and drivers. The city poor work at their homes and hear them on radio and see them on TV and get influenced by their choices. During the previous assembly election in Delhi, this class was supporting AAP. Being fed up by corruption, they got swayed by Kejriwal's promises and the residue of the Anna effect. Thus, they went out en masse and voted for AAP, and the result was for all to see. All areas with middle class majority are where AAP won. All outer Delhi seats with poorer sections were not won by AAP. Poor votes were divided; middle class votes were united.

But Kejriwal, apart from probably remaining honest (there are various conspiracy theories going around in political circles claiming various transactions), failed to deliver on all other counts. The middle class is better educated and more logical that the poor. They clearly realised that behind the anti-corruption slogans of Kejriwal, there was nothing. No plan, no vision, no understanding of economics, no able economists guiding them, no implementation, no leadership and no cohesiveness. The only plans they seemed to have were populist dharnas and doling out of freebies. And that is why the middle class went against AAP in no time. They seem to be very clear that this time, a certain party might have a few corrupt people, but if the party's leadership is strong, if there is a clear vision for the country's growth and development, and if there will be stability and no dramas, then that party is politically better for the country than an anarchist party with some honest leaders and no vision, no cohesiveness, endless infighting and a hurry to get to power without any learning curve using a series of random character assassination attempts on anyone and everyone against them.

But I still don't write them off. Despite being a teacher of economics and leadership, I never used to vote. My students used to ask me why. And I would always tell them that I wouldn't be able to face them with that black-mark on my finger, for that would mean they would know that I too voted for a criminal party. I also told them that the day I believed there was an honest party, I would vote. And that's why at 42 years of age, 24 years after becoming eligible to vote, I went to vote for the first time for AAP. I believed in their honesty and still believe in it. But without better leadership, this honesty will never percolate down. The people below the line will become corrupt. And any rush or greed for power will only bring in the corruption faster. What AAP needs to do now is to learn leadership and inculcate understanding of economics of how to develop a country and finish its ills. And this is far more than a Jan Lokpal Bill – which, at the most, can be a good yet minor tool for better governance. The honeymoon with media and middle-class through the use of random sloganeering is over. Now starts the hard work. As Malcolm Gladwell says and every successful individual would blindly agree to, those are 10,000 hours of real hard work and practice of political economics that Arvind Kejriwal now needs. And maybe the middle class will back him again one day. And that will be the real coming of AAP.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017