Dear Shri Arvind Kejriwal,
Three years ago when Anna Hazare's crusade against corruption was at its peak, in my article titled, "Fight Smart to Fight Corruption", published in TOI's edit page on 25th April, 2011, I had strongly advised the team to consider floating a political party of its own. And I think I was among the first people to do so. Therefore, rest assured, principally, I quite like the idea of a new party comprising professionals from different spheres. It infuses more competition as well as accountability into our politics.
However, having seen you in office for a fortnight now, I have to tell you I am deeply disappointed by your inability to grow beyond an activist. Moreover, your obsession with tokenism is of an irresponsible kind. Had the police not intervened and taken you away in the nick of time, the ill-managed janta durbar of yours last Saturday could well have resulted in casualties to the "aam janta". And still you insist that you don't want security. Do you thrive on contrived chaos?
People complain that the AAP has no policy, that it is a conglomeration of angry, disgruntled elements from everywhere and that its inherent negativity might impede its policy-making abilities forever. I am not unduly perturbed on that front right now. Right now, my concerns are more fundamental and I will restrict myself to them.
I find it strange that a near fascist halo should be created about being the 'aam admi." Some of your zealous supporters have begun to believe that anybody who does not join the AAP is not an aam admi and possibly even anti-aam admi. So the important point here is to first decide who is the aam admi and whether I am one.
Consider these: Every time, the price of petrol is raised, it does leave me in a spot of bother, even if it is momentary. To beat traffic jams, I often travel by the local train. I try and book my flight tickets well in advance to avail them cheap. I believe in saving for the rainy days and hence purchase a new cell-phone or laptop only when it necessary. Our PM's helplessness in combating corruption has often made my blood boil in rage. Every time Pakistan has intruded the LOC and killed our soldiers, it has given me a restless night. The issue of safety of women disturbs me at times, especially when the newspaper has a front page report of some macabre incident.
Don't these traits qualify me to be an Indian AAM Admi? Well, then, I am the AAm Admi.
Now, let me tell me why I can't support the AAP.
First and foremost, I find it bizarre that you should have no inhibitions in taking the support of Congress to run your government. Wasn't your movement and then your party born out of the sins committed by the Congress in the last 10 years?
I know you have been defiantly maintaining that you have not sought anybody's support but your conduct and utterances speak otherwise. Firstly, your eerie silence on the Robert Vadra's land-grab case is baffling. Last month, you had sent a letter to the Congress president seeking reassurances on 18 points. Shouldn't your first demand have been a probe by a central agency on the misadventures of Vadra?
Last week, you asked Dr. Harshvarshan for evidence against Sheila Dikshit. But hadn't you until a few weeks ago claimed that you have 370 pages of evidence against the previous Delhi government. By asking Dr. Harshvardhan for evidence, you did a Manmohan Singh far too early. Equally surprising has been your party's silence on the bribery allegations against the Himachal CM.
It feels sad that while you never cease from resorting to gimmicks to combat petty corruption, you have shown clear indications of compromising on some of the biggest scams, which led to the birth of your party. Your crusade against corruption seems selective in nature, much like that of the infamous Tehelka magazine.
Anyway, since everybody is talking about AAP being the game-changer in 2014, let's talk about the forthcoming elections. Your friend Yogendra Yadav is among the country's best psephologists, for whom I have great regard. Sit with him one evening and try to understand the ground arithmetic. I am sure he will tell you that from the way things stand today, even in a best case scenario, neither the Congress, nor the AAP would cross 100 seats each. For AAP, of course, that's a big gain; for Congress a huge loss.
But then, are you actually hoping to replicate the AAP-Congress arrangement at the Centre? Do you think people are out of their senses to believe that Congress will allow you to move on any of the corruption cases of the last 10 years? Are you yourself sure that you will weed out the ills of the last 10 years by surviving on Congress support?
The irony here is that while even today you claim that you are not in politics for power, all your actions prove otherwise. Let me tell you that while the AAm Admi of our country is surely furious because he has been suppressed and taken for granted for far too long, the same AAM Admi will not disregard national interests, as you seem to be doing.
India, in her present state of economic fragility and policy-paralysis can't afford a handicapped, coalition government supported by the same Congress party, which is responsible for the mess the country is in. Why are you then in such a tearing hurry to form a government that will have to depend upon the Congress for oxygen? Many people compare you to the character of Anil Kapoor in the film Nayak. I beg to differ. Anil Kapoor never took Amrish Puri's support to become the CM.
You are aware that both your mentor, Anna Hazare and your ex-colleague Kiran Bedi have been appreciative of Modi's development agenda. For that matter even the great Shri Shri Ravi Shankar had recently rooted for Modi to be the PM. All these people enjoy proven credentials and cannot be manipulated. In fact till as recently as the Delhi elections, most of AAP supporters favoured Modi for the PM's post.
My humble request to you is to not let your personal ambition (in as much as you might pretenciously deny it) subvert the larger national interests.
Today, India is in dire need of strong, experienced, resilient, foresighted leadership. Be honest to yourself like Gandhi (since you claim he is your inspiration) was and you will know that neither you, nor the Congress is capable of giving the country what she needs right now.
In a situation where BJP might need the support of additional allies, the right thing for AAP to do will be to support BJP form the government at the Centre. Let your support set a national agenda which every Indian can be proud of. If you have reservations about BJP's secular credentials, initiate a dialogue with the party that would address your concerns. Frankly though, I am sure you know how secular Congress itself has been. So it's better to set secularism aside and focus on more relevant issues. For instance, your critical support to the next government at the Centre might enable you to have the Jan Lokpal Bill compulsorily passed in every state in the country. Wouldn't that be your most significant contribution to the country?
I would once again like to reiterate that I have a lot of respect for the sacrifice that your team has gone through to create and bring AAP to this level in such a short span. Don't ruin that goodwill by taking the short-cuts you have taken in Delhi. Wait for your time. Gandhi, after all, too could have got India freedom many years before India actually won freedom. But then he chose not be bend on the principles that created him. Try and be a truer Gandhian than simply flaunting the Gandhian cap.
At the moment, let the deserving party and candidate form the government at the centre and pull the country out of crisis situation she is in. Do an honest introspection and you will know who should be heading the next government.
Tuhin A. Sinha
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