Tag Archives: AAP

The English Media and AAP – Should One Rush to Endorse the Party: Shankar Gopalakrishnan


Over the last few weeks, the blizzard of news about the Aam Aadmi Party – and the move of many independent intellectuals and some activists into the party – has seemed like a roller coaster ride. One week we were told the world had changed, the following week that it had collapsed, and now we have no idea what next week is going to bring. But the roller coaster should not blind us to the deeper dynamics at work. In particular, there’s one that is uncannily familiar – the role being played by the English media. Those rushing to endorse and celebrate AAP should pause to consider recent events before they do so.

A good place to start is the India Against Corruption protests, which were clearly a media mobilisation. It was the media – particularly the English and Hindi electronic media – that called people on to the streets, that announced the locations and demands of the protests, and that consistently described the movement as being “universal” and about “ordinary people” (for examples, see the paragraph in this article on Times Now’s role in April 2011; or The Hoot’s analysis of TV coverage). Social media, the Sangh Parivar and the IAC’s local committees did so too, but they all jumped in after the mainstream media did, and they continued to rely on it. No other mass mobilisation of recent times, except the anti-rape protests, has received this kind of treatment at the hands of the media. Continue reading The English Media and AAP – Should One Rush to Endorse the Party: Shankar Gopalakrishnan

AAP, Racism and Delhi – Perspective from a ‘North Eastern’ Citizen of Delhi: Anuraag Baruah


The recent ‘AAP’ state of affairs in the National Capital brought about by a dharna led by the Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has indeed shaken up the nation. Instead of judging and delivering a verdict on this so called ‘anarchism’, I stress upon something else here. The inherent racism prevalent in the mindset of our people actually found a shameless outlet through the antics of the new law minister of Delhi. The minister’s actions and words only reflect the mindset of the people of the concerned neighbourhood. His own words confirm that he was acting upon their complaints. This particular neighbourhood again reflects the mindset of any middle class neighbourhood in Delhi.

Continue reading AAP, Racism and Delhi – Perspective from a ‘North Eastern’ Citizen of Delhi: Anuraag Baruah

The Politics of Raid Governance – Aam Aurat v. Khas Aurat: Pratiksha Baxi


Following the terrible gang-rape of a Danish woman in Delhi, Chief Minister Mr Kejriwal castigating the police for dereliction of duty pronounced his theory about how rape tendencies form. We are told that rape tendencies flow from drug and sex rackets; and when police corruption sustains these rackets, rates of gangrape are bound to escalate. Rape in this formulation is not an expression of sexualized power or preferred and targetted male violence against women. Rather it is linked to a series of vices located in certain geographies, circuits, substances and bodies, which produce a specific form of sexual venality. And, the technique of “raid” is a privileged form of sexual governance.

To sustain the technique of raid (or sting operations) as the privileged form of governance to stem sexual violence, a certificatory genealogy is instituted. A leader of AAP recites his gender credentials by tracing raid governance to the “damini” protests and experiences of state violence during these anti–rape protests. Mallika Sarabhai’s gender credentials are now interrogated by citing her purported absence from the “damini” protests. Some of us who did not experience police violence during the protests are now vulnerable to the charge of faking our commitment to the anti–rape movement, since certification comes from one kind of participation in the “damini” protests. However, can the badge of being invested in the kind of transformative politics required to challenge rape culture be so easily earned? When men participate in anti–rape protests, we are expected to applaud them and not feel offended when they deride women like Mallika Sarabhai who risked their being to speak against rightist manifestations of sexual impunity and immunity in Gujarat. Continue reading The Politics of Raid Governance – Aam Aurat v. Khas Aurat: Pratiksha Baxi

Why AAP’s Stance on Somnath Bharti Is Disturbing, Whether He is Eventually Sacked or Not: Kavita Krishnan


AAP’s official position is: we’ll sack Bharti IF judicial probe finds him guilty. But what AAP leaders are saying about Bharti’s ‘version’ on TV is as disturbing as Bharti’s own actions and words.

Continue reading Why AAP’s Stance on Somnath Bharti Is Disturbing, Whether He is Eventually Sacked or Not: Kavita Krishnan

Of AAP, dreams and nightmares: Nityanand Jayaraman


I am avowedly anti-police. I am only half-convinced when I say that they are a necessary evil. The “necessary” part is what I get doubtful about. This last Saturday was different. I found myself uncomfortably on the same side as the police as I read the newspapers about Somnath Bharti’s self-righteous and racist escapades. To tell the truth, I did not immediately believe what I read. That was not because I had some personal knowledge of Bharti’s antecedents. But because, AAP was a phenomenon that I wanted to work.

These last few weeks, ever since AAP’s dramatic rise to power, I have been wafting in and out of mental states, between dreams and wakefulness. Dreams are fragile things. For me, AAP’s upsurge was a dream coming true. I come from a generation of Tamils that takes joy no matter whether AIADMK or DMK wins as long as the ruling party loses horribly. Ditto with Congress and BJP.
Now, this AAP thing was an early morning dream. I could see it, feel the joy of seeing disbelief and confusion writ large in the faces of BJP and Congress wallahs. I loved it. I did not know whether I liked AAP or not. But I liked what they did, how they did it. In terms of what they proposed to do, I had questions, suggestions and critical comments. To me, the stated lack of ideology – to begin with – was both an opportunity and a challenge. Continue reading Of AAP, dreams and nightmares: Nityanand Jayaraman

Open Letter to Delhi CM Demanding Action Against Racist Minister: Concerned Citizens

Guest Post by a group of Concerned Citizens

Open Letter by Citizens to Delhi CM Demanding Action Against Racist Minister

Shri Arvind Kejriwal, 
Founder, Aam Aadmi Party and 
Chief Minister, Delhi

CC: Shri Yogendra Yadav, Shri Prashant Bhushan 

Our Demands

1. Remove Somnath Bharti from his position as Law Minister immediately

2. Punish all those, including Somnath Bharti, guilty of instigating and perpetrating racist and sexual violence on African women

3. Delhi Police must come under Delhi Government, but Delhi Police must be accountable to Constitution and not to the bidding of Ministers and mobs 

4. Meet and apologise to the Ugandan women who have complained of racist, sexual violence Continue reading Open Letter to Delhi CM Demanding Action Against Racist Minister: Concerned Citizens

Notes of Dissent on the AAP Dharna

I have no issues with anyone using dharnas as a political strategy, whether or not they are the Chief Minister. The “inconvenience” and “dignity of office” arguments being made by some also hold little truck with me. I write here then to mark my dissent on three specific fronts against the recently concluded AAP dharna from a different vantage point. As with all thoughts on things emergent, they are offered in the making with all their attendant uncertainties.

Continue reading Notes of Dissent on the AAP Dharna

सतत क्रान्ति की पैरोडी

पिछले कुछ समय से नागार्जुन और हरिशंकर परसाई की याद बेइंतहा सता रही है: भारतीय राजनीति के इस दौर का वर्णन करने के लिए हमें उनकी कलम की ज़रूरत थी !

क्रान्ति सतत चलने वाली प्रक्रिया है और असली विद्रोही वह है जो छह महीने बाद अपनी कुर्सी खुद उलट दे. आम आदमी पार्टी और दिल्ली सरकार के मुखिया ने केंद्र सरकार के खिलाफ़ बगावत की शुरुआत की,तो ऐसा ही लगा. दिल्ली के केंद्र में रेल भवन के पास दिल्ली की पूरी सरकार  अपने समर्थकों के साथ दस दिनों के धरने पर बैठ गए. उन्होंने धमकी दी कि वे राजपथ को लाखों लोगों से पाट देंगे और केंद्र सरकार की नींद हराम कर देंगे.किसान और सैनिक जब मिल जाएं तो क्रांति शुरू हो जाती है. इसकी पैरोडी करते हुए अरविंद ने दिल्ली के पुलिसवालों को वर्दी उतार कर धरने पर शामिल होने का आह्वान किया. कुछ लोगों को जयप्रकाश नारायण की याद आ गई. एक साथ लेनिन, लोहिया,क्रोपाटकिन और जयप्रकाश का तेज अरविंद केजरीवाल के रूप में पुंजीभूत हुआ. गांधी का आभा वलय अन्ना हजारे से हट कर अरविंद के माथे के पीछे पीछे तो तब ही लग गया था जब उनका भरपूर इस्तेमाल कर ठिकाने लगा दिया गया. क्या यह 2014 का भारतीय तहरीर चौक होने जा रहा है?

दिल्ली के मुख्य मंत्री ने एक बार फिर  आज़ादी की  नई लड़ाई की घोषणा की.यह दृश्य क्रांतिकारियों,समाजवादियों,अराजकतावादियों, सबके के लिए एक पुराने सपने के  पूरा होने जैसा ही था. एक पुरानी, दबी हुई इच्छा के पूरा होने का क्षण!यह आज़ादी झूठी है वाले नारे , वंदे मातरम और भारत माता का जयकार से रोमांचित होने का सुख!! Continue reading सतत क्रान्ति की पैरोडी

Somnath Bharti and the Terrible, Everyday Racism of a South Delhi Mohalla: Aastha Chauhan

This article by AASTHA CHAUHAN was originally published on the Yahoo! News India web site. It is being republished  here so that it reaches a different audience because there is an urgent necessity to widen the discussion on racism in India. 

In the decade that I’ve been working in Khirki Extension in south Delhi, I’ve known it as a neighborhood in a constant state of flux.

When I first began working at KHOJ, an international artists’ association located in Khirki Extension in 2004, the neighborhood was home to architects’ studios, a theatre studio and various offices, followed by a wave of musicians and artists. It was a locality comprised mainly of houses, some built by well-known architects such as Ramu Katakam and Ashok B Lall. Even Jaya Jaitly had a house there. Soon enough, these large plots were sold to builders, who put in apartments that could accommodate more people. But given the terrible infrastructure in the area, with its poor roads and drainage and its tendency to get flooded, many of its earlier residents moved out. Continue reading Somnath Bharti and the Terrible, Everyday Racism of a South Delhi Mohalla: Aastha Chauhan

The Savage Greed of The Civilized – AAP, Moral Posturing and Ordinary Racism

The savage greed of the civilized stripped naked its own unashamed inhumanity’

Africa, Rabindranath Tagore


Delhi Law Minister and Aam Aadmi Party leader Somnath Bharti’s midnight raid in Khirki village, during which he ordered policemen to search and enter houses, arrest people without warrants, and allegedly said that “black people, who are not like you and me, break laws” –  strips naked the unashamed inhumanity of the Aam Aadmi Party regime’s moral posturing. Underneath the holier-than-thou mask of that moral posture lies the unmistakably horrible sneer of the ordinary racist thug. This is the real face of Somnath Bharti. I hope it is a face that the Aam Aadmi Party can turn itself away from.

Continue reading The Savage Greed of The Civilized – AAP, Moral Posturing and Ordinary Racism

Why I joined AAP and Quit the CPI: Kamal Mitra Chenoy


I first became conscious of politics as a student of economics in Kirorimal College, Delhi University in 1969 when I was elected to the students union executive committee. The same year I was persuaded by a senior to stand for the Delhi University Students Union’s Supreme Council. The latter body elected the DUSU office bearers. These were heady days with some of the leading pro- Naxalites students, students like Avdesh Sinha, who later became a highly respected IAS officer, and Rabindra Ray now a sociology professor in Delhi University. Another leading star who has written on his experiences was Dilip Simeon. I also became Left but did not agree with armed struggle. At this stage I watched the mainstream Left parties and along with Marxist texts read some Left Party pamphlets.

However, a deeper and much more expansive debate was snowballing where I joined in JNU in 1972. Prakash Karat who had earlier written a thought provoking book on the nationality and language question in India was widely respected as a political leader of the JNU students and a formidable theorist. In 1973, the Student Federation of India and the All India Students Federation of which I was the unit secretary aligned for the first time after the split in the communist movement in 1964. We called the alliance progressive democratic front. We were also attacked by an extremely erudite Trotskyist Jairus Banaji who considered us revisionist and quoted extensively from Marxist classics as well as literature, philosophy and the social sciences. Because of this challenge all of us had to do our readings. Continue reading Why I joined AAP and Quit the CPI: Kamal Mitra Chenoy

Xenophobia, Racism and Vigilantism – Danger Signals for AAP

The bizarre drama yesterday, involving one of the Aam Aadmi Party ministers, Somnath Bharti, should make the AAP leadership sit up and think. Here is a brief extract from a report:

Less than 24 hours after he led a midnight raid and tried to bully police into arresting some “Nigerians or Ugandans” who he alleged were members of “a prostitution-and-drug ring”, Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti returned to the very spot on Thursday and asked residents to draw up a list of houses where “such people” live and said he would personally check each one.

The minister got embroiled in a full-scale confrontation with the ACP, BS Jakhar, who insisted, correctly that the police were not legally empowered to do this. According to the same report, Jakhar said, “The minister told me that the women inside are part of a drug racket and that we should conduct a raid in all houses in the area. I told him that the law does not permit us to barge into someone’s house, so late in the night, without a search warrant.” But to not effect. The minister was not only unfazed; he even went on say that he had “received a lot of complaints from women in this locality against foreign nationals, yeh hum aur aap jaise nahin hain (They are not like you or me).” Continue reading Xenophobia, Racism and Vigilantism – Danger Signals for AAP

The Party Left and Aap: Satya Sagar

GUEST POST by Satya Sagar

“Comrade! There is a man dying of thirst at the door. What is the Party line on giving water to thirsty people?”

There was a moment’s silence at the other end of the telephone and then the Great Ideologue said, “That is reformist activity. Tell him we can give our lives for the Revolution but cannot- as matter of policy- give water to the thirsty”

“But Comrade, he will die at our doorstep if we don’t give him water. Think what the bourgeois media will say then”

“You are right. Positive media coverage is important as that is the only way we reach the masses these days. But before you give him water to drink first ask him whether he believes in public or private supply of water” Continue reading The Party Left and Aap: Satya Sagar

AAP and the Ideology Warriors

If ideology-warriors had their way, they would rather have Narendra Modi as the next prime minister than have their ideological purity compromised. Soon after AAP’s victory, many secularists rushed to declare, on Facebook and elsewhere, that they do not and will not partake of the AAP euphoria. ‘What is their stand on communalism?’, they asked indignantly. Some other friends insisted that Muslims need an assurance about AAP’s position on communalism and it should clarify its stand if it wanted the Muslim vote.

So what do the ideology warriors want? Just when the political agenda for the elections has decisively changed, throwing the BJP into a complete quandary, upsetting its strategic plans, they want the old familiar, secular/ communal divide back in place, opening up the political field once more to the same Hindu-Muslim polarization that we are so used to. The secular/ communal divide has been the millstone around our neck, preventing any other issue from being brought into public debate at election time and effectively preventing the emergence of any new force or formation. And let there be no mistake that in a communal polarization of Hindus and Muslims, secular forces will always, in the on-going drama of secular masochism, have to deposit themselves tied hand and foot, into the Congress party’s dungeon. The Amit Shahs will have a field day, creating one Muzaffarnagar after another, and erstwhile secular mascots like Mulayam Singh Yadav will vie with them in further entrenching the Hindu-Muslim divide. In all of this, the Congress will present itself as the saviour of Muslims.

The Congress, the BJP, the imaginary ‘third front’ – all have been able players and winners in this game. Continue reading AAP and the Ideology Warriors

Condemn Attack on AAP Headquarters, Defend Freedom of Expression, Oppose Politics of Hurt Sentiments : New Socialist Initiative

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 Aam Aadmi Party and Animal Farm

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

Beating AAP with the Kashmir stick

When Prashant Bhushan first made his remarks supporting a referendum in Kashmir to decide whether Kashmir will stay in India, a hooligan had gone to his office and slapped him. The Aam Aadmi Party made it clear that these were Bhushan’s personal views and were not endorsed by the AAP, but the stick was too good to ignore. At a loss of words to see the rise of the AAP, somewhat dimming the euphoria over the rising fortunes of Narendra Modi, the BJP has gone on and on over Bhushan’s views on Kashmir. Even when the AAP was proving its majority on the floor of the house, the leader of the opposition, Harsh Vardhan, made Prashant Bhushan’s personal views out be somewhat of a national security threat to India. Just saying that a people should be allowed to decide their fate is anti-national because we know that making such an allowance would bring results we’d rather not see. Continue reading Beating AAP with the Kashmir stick

National Interest and the Aam Aadmi: Abhijit Dutta

Guest post by ABHIJIT DUTTA

Yesterday, Delhi Chief Minister and Common Man-in-Chief of the AAP, Arvind Kejriwal, declared that “We don’t agree with what Prashant Bhushan said about Kashmir, it’s his personal view. Whatever the Army wants to do regarding the deployment, there is no question of a referendum on it. We do not support Prashant Bhushan’s statement.”

Bhushan’s comments, made on NDTV’s ‘We The People’ show, which, in a matter of happy coincidence happens to be the Constitutional term for Aam Aadmi, was simply this: wishes of the people of Kashmir be taken into account while determining whether the Army was needed for internal security or not. Unreasonably, and with shattering common sense, Bhushan had argued that if the Armed Forces deployed within Kashmir (as opposed to the border areas) were meant to protect the general Kashmiri population, might it not be a good idea to ask that population whether they wanted the protection or not. Continue reading National Interest and the Aam Aadmi: Abhijit Dutta

The Year That Was and the Challenge of 2014

This is a slightly modified version of the article ‘Winds of Change’, published in Economic and Political Weekly (28 December, 2013). As the year ends and we brace up for the big battle that lies ahead in the coming year, here are some reflections on matters that may have a bearing on that battle. Politics is undergoing a transformation, in India as elsewhere. But perhaps, more importantly, it is also what we have so far understood as politics, that is on the point of transformation. For over a century, social science disciplines have maintained a neat distinction between the political and the economic, between state and capital and so on. Marxism ostensibly challenged this false division – but only to assert that the real thing was ‘economics’; that politics was mere epi-phenomenon. But the story of capital was never an economic story alone. In diverse ways, movements in different parts of the world are about this forced division, and the destruction of politics that followed in actual life as economics became a domain of so-called iron laws and economic models began to determine the ways we were taught to see and understand politics.  In the neoliberal 1990s and part of the 2000s, economic laws and the ‘needs’ of capital became sacrosanct – all politics was made to sing and dance to its tune. Only rank outsiders to this world could ask the emperor’s new clothes kind of questions. That is what seems to be happening. Till now, even those who saw that the emperor was naked, went on a maun vrata (vow of silence), fearing ridicule.

The dying old Kulin Brahmin in Goutam Ghose’s Bengali film Antarjali Jatra suddenly sprang to life on seeing his new attractive wife who had been married to him for the sole purpose of accompanying him in his life beyond as sati. Much like that character, the decrepit and ramshackle BJP seems to have suddenly sprung to life at the fantasy of power, having been out in the cold for almost a decade. And just as the young bride in the film was provided by another old impoverished Brahmin (his unmarried daughter), so an utterly impoverished Congress has provided the BJP with the most tantalizing possibility of what it might get in its life beyond.

How else do we explain the fact that the BJP after 2004, already in shambles with all its old leaders gone and its organization ridden with internal bickering and loss of direction, suddenly seems to have made such a comeback in the recent elections in five states? The ‘return of the BJP’ seems to be the overt message of the results of these elections. For there is certainly no doubt that in the past one year so, ever since the orchestrated rise of Narendra Modi in all-India level politics, the BJP’s fortunes too seem to have started turning. This development, however, was greatly facilitated by the Congress in more ways than one. The Congress seemed determined to hand over the game to Modi and the Hindu Right. Continue reading The Year That Was and the Challenge of 2014

Corporate Sabotage and AAP’s Chavez Moment

Even as the new AAP government was preparing to take oath of office, the news came of an unprecedented hike in the price of CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) – a hike of Rs 5.15 per kg. In principle, there is nothing wrong with a price-hike that is supposedly necessitated by the need to reduce supplies to metropolitan centres in order to ensure a more equitable distribution to other towns. However, knowing the way the Congress Party functions, the timing of this hike gives rise to legitimate suspicion that the intention is mala fide. At the very least, the decision could have waited till the new government assumed office and some consultation with the new government was carried out. This move shows up the nature of what can be expected from Congress and its ‘outside support’ to the new government.

Expectedly, auto-rickshaw drivers have started making noises about going on strike if fares are not commensurately hiked. If auto fares are raised, it hits the middle class, and if they are not, it alienates the auto-drivers.This clearly throws any new government into a quandary. Continue reading Corporate Sabotage and AAP’s Chavez Moment

AAP’s Rise and Congress Rout – Some Obvious but Unconventional Questions: Sanjay Kumar

Guest post by SANJAY KUMAR

A Congress rout and the AAP success are the most obvious results of recent polls. Both are spectacular, in their own ways. Even BJP’s landslide victory in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh pales in comparison, for these two open up new possibilities.

Why a party whose legacy of anti-colonial struggle had lost sheen generations ago, whose top leadership is in the grip of a seemingly disinterested and incompetent dynasty, that lacks any organised cadre, coherent ideology, social base, and whose average leader appears more of a wheeler-dealer, and scamster, should continue to get close to thirty percent of votes from Indians even in worst of times, is a genuine mystery. That the Indian social analyses, barring a few exceptions, have tried little to unravel this mystery, is not only an indication of their intellectual limitations, but also of their ideological biases. The enduring success of Congress indicates seamier side of liberal democracy in general, which bourgeois social sciences try more to paper over than explore.

From voters’ perspective elections under liberal democracy are an exercise in choice, but not in freedom. When people vote, they are not acting as citizens shaping their social world, but as little men and women facing pre-existing structures of social power. The magic of elections under liberal democracy is precisely this. They offer a choice, the choice is not fake, its collective outcome is uncertain, yet the choice is already pre-determined in ways that by and large reproduce pre-existing power structures. That is why, exercising franchise is not necessarily a marker of democratic exercise, and leaders of fascist persuasion are often the loudest votaries of compulsory voting.  But that is not all. If elections were mere gears in a machine that simply revolved on and on, they would be quickly become a ritual, like those under state socialism in which the Party and leaders always got more than 95% approvals. Elections under liberal democracy in contrast provide flexible adjustment of state political functionaries to changing social conditions. They allow reflection of changes in public opinion, demography, gender politics, caste equations and balance of class forces, whose origins lie somewhere else, onto state politics. Punctuated adjustment with a time lag produces a sense of drama. Personae on stage appear as victors and losers, for voters there is enough stage space to allow their hope, vengeance or gratitude to play their part. For a time, and only for a time, the impersonal structure of state power becomes humanly palpable. Continue reading AAP’s Rise and Congress Rout – Some Obvious but Unconventional Questions: Sanjay Kumar