AAP and the erstwhile Janata Party

By Hemani Bhandari,

Whenever people are unhappy with governance, they will rebuke. However, how long does it last?

The notion is granted a nod with the emergence of Aam Aadmi Party in 2013; however AAP’s fall in Delhi was not something that could not be anticipated. It was not the first time people chose against the wrong-doings of an incumbent government. The winning of AAP in 2014 Assembly Elections in Delhi can be traced back to the time when Janata Party was formed in 1977 under Jayaprakash Narayan and won the Lok Sabha elections.


In 1977, public were extremely unhappy, disillusioned and dejected with the incumbent Indian National Congress; Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister of India had declared emergency in 1975 under article 352, because of ‘internal threat’ to the State wherein she committed atrocities of immense nature; to the extent of curbing fundamental rights, censoring press and throwing all the political opponents behind bars without any concrete reason; corruption and nepotism knew no bounds. There were riots and protests throughout the country; India, as a whole, was screaming for a political alternative.

At this time of chaos, Jayaprakash Narayan provided the people of this country, a political alternative, Janata Party. The party was an alliance of all the parties which were not on the same page with INC; anti-congress political parties came together to launch an attack against INC. Janata Party was a conglomeration of Janata Morcha, Charan Singh’s Bhartiya Lok Dal, Swatantra Party, The Socialist Party of India led by Raj Narain and George Fernandes and Bhartiya Jan Sangh. The undemocratic practices of Indira Gandhi were put to an end in 1977 when Janata Party won the elections with a different vision from mainstream political parties.

The party promised restoration of constitution, withdrawal of Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA- which created havoc in the lives of general public), clean and transparent governance and the much needed re-establishment of the centre-state power balance which it failed to bring because of crisis within the party. Morarji Desai and Charan Singh never approved of each other. Political parties with different agendas and ideologies came together; chaos was inevitable without a strategy for common consensus.

Public consciousness was evidently aroused around 2010 when scores of scams were unearthed involving top brass politicians from national political parties. In a country where the official percentage of people living below poverty line is 22, we witnessed crores of currency going straight into the pockets of politicians, the hard earned money of a common man. The scams are a reflection of layers of corruption from top to bottom; corruption which is the main reason of victimization of a common man. Year after year, starting from Commonwealth Games scam and 2G Spectrum scam, the list did not seem to end including Adarsh Housing Society, Choppers scam. These scams burnt a big hole in common man’s pocket. Amidst this chaos, Arvind Kejrival provided a wave of relief to public by forming his own party with the main agenda against corruption. He promised, to the ‘aam aadmi’, a life in which he can make the ends meet.

However, the party failed to last long with Arvind Kejriwal’s resignation on February 14, 2013.The fall of AAP can be seen as history repeating itself. From the very beginning when the party came into power in December 2013. Party’s internal crisis began with AAP member Vinod Kumar Binny blaming Arvind Kejriwal of being a dictator and cheating people; earlier Binny was denied a seat in the cabinet. Another member Mallika Sarabhai attacked her own party member Kumar Vishwas calling him a ‘misogynist’ after a youtube video had gone viral wherein Vishwas made a remark against nurses from Kerala. None other than Somnath Bharti ,eminent AAP member, made it to the headlines of every newspaper and news channel because of his profane language and pursuit against Delhi police. There could be seen ideological differences within the party; party member Gopinath criticized AAP’s stand on the FDI in retail in Delhi. Differences within the party were evident, and protests staged by Kejriwal against Delhi police in January 2014 followed by his comments against Republic Day celebrations invoked, in public, a sense of doubt against stability of the party.

Therefore, there can be seen a similar pattern between the two parties. There rise and eventual fall. Non-conformity, lack of understand and common-consensus arising from ideological conflicts and vested interests.

(Hemani Bhandari is a student of journalism studying at Asian College of Journalism in Chennai.)

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