The AAP conundrum

Indian society deals with a problem in peculiar way. When we face a problem, first we downplay it, then will look the other way, then the problem swells. Eventually we reach a state where the problem becomes an existential threat and can not be ignored. Some one stands up as says “something must be done”. Another one rises and proposes idea X and argues “Something must be done, X is something hence X must be done”.

The X is generally a superficial idea and resonates with the most of the people but not necessarily a well thought solution. For example, Indian people are hungry, what is the solution ? Let government provide it for free. Indian people can not afford petrol, so let government reduce taxes. Having a girl child is problematic in India, solution ? Pay money to the parents. Indian schools are unable to meet the demand, pass some right to education law.

The problem with AAP is that it is manifestation for same Indian mentality. India’s problems gave rise to this new party which has not managed to even win India’s capital. Clearly this party is going to upset the established parties in most of the urban areas in the upcoming general elections.

AAP’s rise is not good for the country in many ways. True that both BJP and Congress have failed to live up the the aspirations of the country and we desperately wanted an alternative. But “an alternative” is not same as “any alternative”. In my opinion the real failure of AAP is in the fact that the party does not seem ideologically different from the existing parties. The difference if any is mostly in the people at top. But those people in top seem to be clones of Sonia Gandhi’s NAC which is largely responsible for ruining the country in last 10 years.

Corruption in India is not a random phenomenon. In fact is is by design. Since independence Indian government has followed a tightly controlled economy, education and media. Such system are bound to turn into rent seeking establishment where the government draws its power from liberty of its citizens. A non-free society turns helpless and docile and from there all the problems begin. The worst part of our society is that we have forgotten what freedom truly means. We do not know that we are not free, we feel that being docile and bending before government is the only way to lead a life. Hence there is no hope.

AAP has established itself as an alternative. But on almost all issues AAP seems to be a proponent of “big government” where governments hammer is used on the people who are not with the vote bank. This is a old trick used by communists and Indira Gandhi. Blame the “haves” for the problems of “have nots”. Generally “have nots” is a larger votebank and such parties tend to win elections. For example blame power companies because they are making profits. Blame private schools because they are making profits. Speak of “strict” actions against the real productive people and institutions without actually suggesting any changes to eliminate the need for those companies to be shady in first place.

AAP seems to argue that having clean people at top is all what needs to make the government in the interest for people. That is one of the biggest lie people are generally told. It was never true. Manohar Parrikar is a honest and also a competent man. He has failed in Goa on a lot of accounts. The infrastructure hasn’t been developed the way it should have, the populist and idiotic handouts like Ladli Laxmi etc have proved disastrous for the economic health and law and order situtation is so poor that our police are helpless against rioting Nigerians, an MLA gets beaten up and an on an average there are 2 robberies a week. (I recently lost a relative in one such robbery).

People can not be bucketed into two distinct buckets of honest and dishonest. It is a real valued function. Different people react to different incentives. For example you hear of a solider who puts his life in risk to save his friends in the battlefield. He is given awards. But later same person is put behind bars for beating up his wife over a silly reason.

Building a political alternative to existing options in my opinion would entail creating an ideological alternative to the existing, leftist and socialism filth that congress party has been spreading in the country. BJP started off with much more market friendly policies but recently it has become a B team of congress.  AAP’s ideology overlaps well with that of congress. Its method of working is similar to Congress. The only difference is that Kejriwal is slightly better than Sonia Gandhi but both are advised by the same set of people at some point of time. Yogendra Yadav for example was responsible for the horrible Right to Education Act and was an adviser to Rahul Gandhi during 2009 elections.

Anyone who understands economics will tell you that providing an important resource like water for free is a bad idea. (Reducing tax on Petroleum is far more worse). But if Arvind Kejriwal is trying to tell us that good governance is about government taking good care of people’s needs I think he has already lost the case. I would have appreciated if AAP had articulated better ways where state is no more responsible for doing such things as providing voter and electricity and these things were left to private players in an open market. But he has gone the Congress way.

At the moment Narendra Modi seems to be a better alternative to Congress, AAP and the BJP’s own current image. He is surely not some kind of messiah that his fans might try to portray him. I am pretty sure he is a man who will put his politics before his principles as we have seen how swift he was in banning books to provide political cover to Advani or how he misused state machinery for snooping a friends daughter to possibly assist the father to snap his daughters relationship with her boyfriend. Such incidents indicate that Modi is not a big lover of freedom. But when it comes to governance he has articulated as well as implemented things like “Minimum Government Maximum Governance”. No new institutions and no new laws to tackle existing problems.

None of Modi’s solutions would solve any immediate problems but if he manages to deliver results he might change the voter mentality from the pro-left to pro-market. This will be good for India in long run and is a necessary condition for getting India back onto the growth path.




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