(Photo Courtesy : http://www.newslaundry.com)
“He came, he saw and he concurred“
– Caption of a RK Laxman cartoon in early 90 s
AAP’s stand on article 370 has confused and disheartened many.
For its workers the party has opened itself to attacks by its adversaries because of its support to stripping of statehood for Jammu and Kashmir and thus weakening its own plank for full statehood for Delhi which was its key slogan during the 2019 Lok Sabha campaign.
A section of its fellow-travelers who had high hopes of the experiment, activists/scholars – who were rather enthused with its ‘participatory’ approach – also feel betrayed or disheartened now.
It is a different matter that not many have made their displeasure known.
May be it is a sign of their increasing fatigue or possible cynicism with politics in general, they have preferred to share their frustrations at private levels only. Continue reading Arvind Kejriwal, Article 370 and a Blind Alley
Guest Post by SANJAY KUMAR
Ramesh has been working as a daily wager in a Government of India office in Delhi for ten years. He is one of the army of peons, office assistants, security guards, gardeners, and cleaning staff which government offices, city municipalities, hospitals, schools and colleges of the metropolis employ regularly. He is a graduate, but gets the wage of an unskilled worker. He is among the fortunate ones who at least get government mandated minimum wage. Most private employers in the city violate the minimum wage act; either they pay less than the mandated amount, or make daily wagers work more than eight hours without any overtime.
Ramesh was pleasantly surprised this April when he noted a more than 30% increase in his wages. His daily wage that stood at Rs 360/ earlier was now Rs 513/. This was due to a Government of Delhi notification issued on 3rd March, 2017. The news was covered in the inner pages of some newspapers. Most TV news channels ignored it. Hence, it is not surprising that employees like Ramesh who are not associated with any organsiation of workers were not aware of this increase. Continue reading The Elephant in the Room – Silence on Class Issues in Indian Politics : Sanjay Kumar
Guest post by Joyojeet Pal
Why the Silicon Valley (Generally) Loves Narendra Modi
“Indians are the most prosperous group in the United States of America,” said comedian Rajiv Satyal, the compère of the Narendra Modi speech at the San Jose Arena in the Silicon Valley on Sept. 27. No flash of Gandhian embarrassment stood in the way of the booming cheer that followed. Later on when repeated technical bungling (ironic next to the tech bombast of the setting) led the compère to step back on stage, he kept repeating this idea alongside “Bharat Mata ki Jai!” to keep the ardor up among the 17,000-strong crowd. There appeared to be a few thousand more outside, either supporting or protesting the event. Several U.S. legislators were present, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Continue reading The Indiscreet charm of Narendra Modi: Joyojeet Pal
Guest post by Satya Sagar
While the Indian media goes ballistic over the possibility of a split in the Aam Aadmi Party and ardent supporters stand demoralised, for me this is probably the best news I have heard since the party’s historic win in the recent Delhi assembly elections. I love anything with ‘splittist tendencies’.
The reason is simple. For anyone even vaguely familiar with the nature of living systems, particularly microbial life (and this is a bacterial planet we live on) one of its fundamental characteristics is ‘divide and rule’. Let me explain in more detail, before Markandeya Katju accuses me of being a ‘British agent’.
Basically, anything that possesses life, propagates and spreads its influence only through the process of splitting itself repeatedly till it finds its true balance within the larger ecosystem. All of evolution is possible only because of the constant churning, that results in repeated mutation of basic genetic structures, from which the most durable and relevant ones survive.
Lifeless, inanimate objects on the other hand, by definition, do not possess any internal contradictions and can move around only when pushed by external forces. In political terms it is simple to understand this point – when was the last time the Congress, BJP or for that matter CPI or CPM split anywhere? If there is no opinion at all, there can’t be a ‘difference of opinion’ too. Continue reading AAP’s Divide & Rule: Satya Sagar
Guest Post by AASTHA CHAUHAN, MALINI KOCHUPILLAI, and several AFRICAN RESIDENTS OF DELHI
Dear Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, Mr.Yogendra Yadav and Aatishi Marlena,
Being witness to the events occuring in Khirkee this past month, we, a group of artists, architects, activists and local residents have felt the need to frame an open letter addressed to your party, the AAP & the public. The media-frenzy associated with these events has been accompanied by the usual kind of misinformation and hyperbole. However, in the ensuing noise, the real stories of the underlying racism that afflicts our society and the negative repercussions of the raid on the African residents of the neighborhood, have been lost. We hope this letter will clarify some facts and put across a few of our concerns.
Our intention is not to encourage confrontation, it is to propose solutions. Delhi is a tough place for all immigrants alike, how will we make this a more inclusive compassionate city? These are the larger questions. These were the issues we were hoping to tackle. Continue reading Open Letter to AAP and the Public on Continuing Racism in Khirkee Village: Aastha Chauhan, Malini Kochupillai & Friends
The residents of Khirki are angry. They say they have been misrepresented, their grievances are not being given a patient hearing because the rest of us are doing politics over them. Nobody even wants to hear that they could have a case, that the story could be about more than just skin colour. Kafila and Times Now alike will tell you they are a bad, racist, evil lynch mob who deserve to be disenfranchised.
Even if that is what they are, will the summary dismissal of what they are saying be of help in resolving the situation? Forget the debates about the Aam Aadmi Party. As their elected representative, Somnath Bharti with all his vigilante zeal was doing what representative democracy makes representatives do. The people were making their voice heard through their elected representative. But we don’t want to hear their voice. If we did, we’d realise what the area needs is dialogue and understanding. All the problems with Africans and others in a 14th century ‘urban village’ next to 21st century shopping malls need a conversation that won’t come if we don’t want to appreciate the complexity of a social situation. By refusing to do so, we are being as unhelpful as the vigilantism of Somnath Bharti.
But at least we are thinking about Khirki. As for Sagarpur, where on earth is that?
These last few days, you have been fed one-sided angst by a media eager to help Narendra Modi overcome the pro-AAP mood, by pre-ideological leftists eager to bring down the AAP house so that Narendra Modi can come to power and they can do proper full-time chest-beating over fascism, by big industry already unhappy to see the AAP government move against Walmart. Is there a bigger picture?
Guest Post by KAVITA KRISHNAN
Many of us have felt disturbed by the implications of the incident involving the Delhi Law Minister’s attempted raid on African nationals in Khidki village.
The Minister, Somnath Bharti, (a member of the Aam Aadmii Party) insisted that the police conduct a raid minus a search warrant. Two African women have said, on record, that they were subjected to racist abuse (‘black people break laws’) and beaten by a mob of people (the Minister’s supporters), and that it was the Delhi police who protected them from the mob violence.
[ See Aditya Nigam’s post on the same issue in Kafila earlier ]
There are also reports that one of the women was forced to give a urine sample in public. The women were also subjected to cavity searches and tests – none of which yielded any sign of drugs. The violence against the women was defended in the name of anger against ‘prostitution’ and ‘drug peddling’, while no proof of the same has been presented as yet. In any case, the treatment meted out to the women cannot be justified even if they were indeed prostitutes! Continue reading Protest Against Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti’s Racist Vigilantism in Delhi: Kavita Krishnan
New Socialist Initiative Condemns Attack on AAP Headquarters
New Socialist Initiative condemns the attack on the headquarters of AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) office at Kaushambi, Ghaziabad by vigilantes of the Hindutva Brigade and demands stern action against the culprits. Given the inordinate delay by the police in reaching the place and nabbing the hooligans in the case of an emergent political party and high-profile politicians, one can only imagine the safety and security of common citizen under such dispensation.
It is distressing that each time any individual or group has expressed views on the violation of human rights by Armed Forces protected by the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, frenzied jingoism by the rightwing forces as well as by the print and electronic media turn to the rhetoric of hurt sentiments. It is equally distressing that the Aam Aadmi Party too succumbed to such jingoism, found it necessary to distance itself from Prashant Bhushan and turned the question of human rights violation by the armed forces into a question of national integrity. Continue reading Condemn Attack on AAP Headquarters, Defend Freedom of Expression, Oppose Politics of Hurt Sentiments : New Socialist Initiative
The plot of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’ can be summarized in a single sentence – “This novel demonstrates the consequences of the addition of four important words -‘but’, ‘some’, ‘more’, and ‘others’ to the phrase – <all animals are equal>”.
In other words, it describes the transition from the axiomatic statement <all animals are equal> to the qualified formula <all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others>.
Aam Aadmi Party founder and Delhi’s new chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s ruling out the possibility of referendums in Kashmir about the presence of the armed forces in Jammu & Kashmir (in response to his party colleague Prashant Bhushan’s endorsement of the idea of such a referendum during a recent television appearance) could signify a shift within the Aam Aadmi Party’s evolving political doctrine that parallels the transition that the pigs in Animal Farm made while turning their revolution into a counter-revolution. Continue reading The Aam Aadmi Party and Animal Farm
There is nothing novel about new parties upsetting the two-party binary. We have seen that happen through the process of Mandalisation in many states. But all those new parties have come up in the name of one or more identities caste, community, region. The BJP is the Brahmin-Bania party of Hindu nationalism. The BSP is the party of the Dalits, the JD(U) of the Kurmis, the BJD of Odisha. Many of these parties don’t have ambitions to rival the Congress or the BJP on the national stage.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is an exception in that its central ideology is good governance. This helps it escape identity politics. At the same time, the AAP embraces identity politics like everyone else does: its symbol, the broom, was from day one targeted at the Valmikis. Be it Muslims or Dalits or Brahmins, the AAP quietly takes note of identity politics and gives lip service, even as the party as a whole does not identify itself with any one community. The only other party which handles identity politics this way is the Congress. Continue reading Why AAP is the new Congress
Guest Post by SATYA SAGAR
From time to time in the history of every nation there emerges a maverick force that collapses the existing system by taking its logic to the extremes. Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party are precisely that, a ‘wild card’ in Indian politics, threatening to turn it upside down in ways no one could have imagined before.
Ever since they were born out of the throes of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement, a couple of years ago, everyone has tried to slot the AAP in the regular political categories of right, left and center. Some have dubbed the Aam Aadmi Party as the ‘new Congress’ and others as the ‘B Team’ of the BJP. Supporters of the party have hailed its leader Arvind Kejriwal as a ‘modern day Gandhi’ while one opponent has intriguingly called his party ‘right wing Maoists’! Continue reading Aam Aadmi, Khaas Politics: Satya Sagar
Over a year ago, I had written on Kafila about the (Ir)resistible rise of Arvind Kejriwal, a phenomenon thoroughly misread from the beginning to this moment, by free radicals and Left devotees of Congress-style politics. Taking the risk of saying ‘I-told-you-so’, some lessons need to be underlined, learnt from the political developments of the last three years. That post said – referring back to the days of the Anna Hazare movement (itself dubbed reactionary, casteist, even RSS-sponsored and fascist, by pundits of all hues) –
But here was the political class and the intelligentsia from Left to Right taking the protestors to task – asking them to tame their dissent and channel it through ‘proper channels’. Contest elections and let us see how much support you have, they challenged. Anna Hazare stuck to his guns, refusing the bait. Kejriwal however, seems to have decided to call their bluff. And much before the last hunger strike failed, his political mobilization started moving away from the single point agenda of the Lokpal Bill. Apparently taking up the challenge and moving towards the constitution of a political party, Kejriwal has entered the field in a manner that might even begin to pose an electoral challenge to ruling as well as opposition parties. How much of a challenge it will be we cannot say. However, one thing is quite clear: It will probably introduce an element of serious uncertainty in the coming elections, whenever they are held. Old formulas will cease to work. Equations are bound to change with new imponderables entering the scene.
Continue reading AAP Halts BJP Advance in Delhi