By Saurabh Sinha,
When the ‘Anna Movement’ gathered wave in the summers of 2011, the media antennas had suddenly picked up a huge uprising somewhere in Delhi – the Jantar Mantar. It was here when Anna Hazare with his trusted ‘brains’, Mr. Kejriwal sat on hunger strikes for days and attracted the TRPs of all news channels. The demands for a ‘strong’ Lokpal bill to address issues of corruption, black-money stashed abroad and accompanying unreal and astounding economic analyses left a lot of people speechless. This was a newer brand of politics, devoid of real issues. The demand was to catch the culprits, to put them behind bars and to keep doing that till the vigilant citizen roaming on the streets can counter the babu sitting in the office. That was the political motive, and all the motivation. No more, no less.
With the turn of events seeing Mr. Kejriwal becoming the ‘disempowered’ CM of Delhi, who has no real control of the police force of his own state, has a very unstable government (of which he has absolutely no problems with), it is a point to wonder if this ‘alternative’ is really anything which is has claimed. I have from the start maintained my ideological difference from the conceptions of the AAP. Any organization, howsoever big or small, devoid of the nuances of how social stratification works, of how economies operate in the larger arena and how political strategies are also made across the borders of our own jurisdictions; cannot claim to be ‘progressive’ in any sense.
The middle class sense of outrage and morality which is the vote bank of a party explicitly not claiming to do vote-bank politics is a dangerous cocktail with the supposedly ambitious plans of the party. The AAP has in the post-Delhi election period sent frizzles across leaders of real movements concentrating on real issues of land, farmers, workers, inequalities of the rich and the poor, gender oppression, caste atrocities and many more sections of people who have suffered due to several institutions coming together to ‘develop’ the country, and the world. The middle class lies in a conflict of interest with these groups and to address such complex issues with a carrot and stick policy in favour of the highly expressive and TV set-opinionated and underlying vote-bank is as problematic as a sectarian and divisive form of politics (read the BJP) to those incumbent for decades to further their own interests and build oppositions to co-opt them at a later stage to silence opposition (read the Congress). It is important to highlight the one distinguishing factor among the two major parties (who have some very matching agendas when it comes to economic and political loot and percolating everything that has gone wrong with). The political left is as toothless and lost in academic squanders as to lend an ear to the crying people. In this context, the AAP brand of politics was indeed something to look forward to, till its real-time implications were recorded over and over.
A liberal off-shoot of the RSS line of thought, it was not surprising to find Baba Ramdev and the BJP endorsing the ‘Anna Movement’ and the subsequent formation of the AAP (although the later one with a little reluctance) when the decision came. Why not try a hand at politics and change the system? I had heard this argument before. Someone was actually doing this – also doing the rounds were its striking similarities with a popular movie based on similar themes.
The middle-class morality has no place for progressive politics. It finds homosexuality too radical and too unnatural. It finds that Dalits, Adivasis, Muslims, Women – nobody is being discriminated. It finds land grabbing and corporate loot as given ‘side-effects’ of the rising economy of the country. It justifies violence on particular groups as long as it is a ‘reaction’. Can we hope too much from this morality-driven agendas? Can we seriously think that one man can change the world – in the chartered directions of the AAP? It could evolve, yes; and it might transform to something else and hence judgments should not be formed till they ‘perform’, it is extensively argued.
What exactly to ‘perform’ – nobody asked?
As long as they perform. So here are your performances – caste and gender insensitivity, racial generalizations, by-pass of democratic and procedural institutions because they are too much hassle – all to convince the public of their interest in changing the country. Because change is the buzzword!
Everything should be changed, and it should keep changing till the meanings of real change can be made as distraught and as far away from realities.
And then let’s change some more. Let’s change the cap to ‘Main Aam Aadmi Nahi Hun’. Because the Aam Aadmi can really not represent the various groups – and you need all of them if you want real change.
Till then, you can pin your hopes on one man – hoping he is the real hero after all. Because that’s what we do best – worship heroes, never people.
Saurabh Sinha works at Society for Rural Urban and Tribal Initiative (SRUTI), and is based in New Delhi. The views expressed are personal. He can be reached at [email protected].