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The issues in AAP – ego or something more ?




It cannot get more shocking than this. When you take traditional parties such as the Congress, the Samajwadi Party, BSP, and numerous other parties, they all have a similar concept of organization. There will be a leadership, that is in the form of a strong person (or strong family) that runs the show, and whose word is supreme. So the Congress has the Gandhi family, the SP has Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family, the BSP has Mayawati, the Trinamool has Mamta Banerjee, the Telugu Desam has Chandrababu Naidu (and he rose up primarily because he was the son-in-law of NT Rama Rao), and so on. The few exceptions to this concept of one family/person rule in the large parties are the BJP, and the Left parties. However, the recent changes in the BJP with the emergence of Narendra Modi seem to have converted the party into a high command party, with Modi (and with Amit Shah and Jaitely being loyal second in commands – the RSS is the only option to be able to speak to Modi at the same level, but even they recognize the popularity and significance of the Modi Government). The Left has a Politburo, but even then it was Prakash Karat who reigned supreme, running the Communist Parties directly and indirectly.
The Aam Aadmi Party is a very new party, and hence there is a lot of idealism, and some of that idealism is striking the party hard now. When you build a party with the righteous and the idealist, there will be many issues that will force people apart, especially when some of the goals have been achieved. And the concept of democracy within a party takes on a different meaning. How do you build an organization and yet support all the tenets of democracy. There are likely to be many clashes, and when these clashes come from the base of idealism, they can force apart previously inseparable companions. Some of that seems to be happening in the Aam Aadmi Party.

The party has been many ideal principles, and when some of those principles clash with a need for some pragmatism, some people will accept some compromises (and that word itself sounds so dirty), while others would prefer to run true and honest and decry those who are making some compromises. The anger and hurt that comes through in such discussions means that these emotions will come through and will confuse the supporters of the party and give a big handle to the opponents of the party with which to beat the party. And when this comes on at a time when the party is supposed to be riding high, the fall can be perceived to be even greater. And this is the crux of the tussle currently ongoing within the AAP, with Kejriwal and his supporters on one side, and Prashant / Shanti Bhushan on one side + Yogendra Yadav. People might think that they could try and control this tussle, but ideology driven tussles tend to go all the way, since there is very little positions to compromise on.
For winning the Delhi election, it seemed quite necessary that the party project the popularity of one person backed by a large scale volunteer group (similar to what Modi did in the 2014 Lok Sabha election), so technically when Prashant Bhushan decries the personality driven cult during the Delhi assembly 2015 elections, it was true, but seems necessary. Winning the elections requires a great deal of pragmatism and realism (atleast in my opinion), and what happened in the elections seems like the right tactic, but was certainly personality driven. Similarly, after the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the push by the AAP to go all India was criticized post-facto, as was the push by Kejriwal for contesting Varanasi against Narendra Modi. The party neither had any local success to showcase, nor did they generate the resources needed for fighting a country wide election. There was wide-spread consensus both within and outside the party that this push was not correct at that stage, and the party needed to focus on Delhi first.
However, this is slightly contentious, and again shows a contradiction between not having a high command structure and being a party that has much more open decision making. Technically, Yogendra Yadav is correct in saying that when different units of the party feel that the time is right for the party to try and strike out in other locations and it is not for the central leadership (read Kejriwal) to dismiss such claims, but then again, there has to be some decision making organization within the party.
The recent revelations regarding the opposition by Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan (as well as the comments by Shanti Bhushan during the election campaign), if true, reveal that the group was so incensed by how the campaign was going, as well as power centers in the party. Ever since the party was formed, it was clear that even with the party supposedly being different from the other parties in terms of power centers, Arvind Kejriwal was first among equals and commanded a strong (apparently too strong) power position within the party; and this went against the concept of the party and the ideals on which it was founded. Their actions in opposition of how the party was being run would eventually lead to the position where we are currently, and these splits or removal from power centers within the party was inevitable.
The current situation in the party is messy, with the frictions highlighting the deep divisions within the party, and driven by idealistic impulses, it is possible that the situation will get even more messy.




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