Tag Archives: AAP

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