Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has not invited any opposition leader or chief ministers from opposition parties to the glorious event of their swearing-in ceremony at Delhi, though lots of, rather all of, them were more than eager to attend the event. This means too much and indicates towards too many things of the future shape of our polity especially in the face of many political pundits predicting and talking about increased aspirations and role of Arvind Kejriwal on the national spectrum.
Arvind Kejriwal and his AAP is a product of the anti-corruption crusade against Congress regime led by Anna Hazare. The agitation, however, was still going on taking its shape and yet to reach its culmination when Kejriwal and others scattered and moved away to fight elections which Anna apparently did not approve of. Till today Anna has his strong reservations about AAP and Kejriwal and even on this winning he has refused to offer his comments. Thus unlike JP movement of the early seventies which culminated in success giving shape to a political ethos and platform creating too many leaders many of them of national repute, Anna agitation was aborted in the way and did not culminate in anything except political gains to some people. Most joined AAP capturing Delhi and few like Kiran Bedi joined BJP and got some positions somewhere and somehow in the system. It may be added that BJP and some other parties too supported Anna movement, but Kejriwal instead of making any alliance with any of the political parties went alone creating his own party as AAP making its base in Delhi. AAP did try spreading its wings but could not be visible anywhere other than Delhi, mainly because AAP did not have any history and failed to create its geography either.
It is often difficult for a classic regional leader to grow his national aspirations without a national name and national structure of his party in a country as complex as ours. Nitish Kumar did aspire for this, he had the national reputation too at a given time but lacked the structure to move upon. Once upon a time Chandrababu Naidu too was restless becoming a national leader revolting from NDA before Andha Pradesh just pulled the soil under his feet. Even most popular of Chief Ministers may not make a national leader without a robust all India organization. Let anyone not confuse with Narendra Modi making it become the Prime Minister from Gujarat Chief Minister. It was his all India party selecting him the leader of the party and it had nothing to do with his being a Chief Minister. Kejriwal is a sharp ex IRS officer, who knows his strength and limitations too well and would not aspire to climb upon an imaginary staircase proceeding to nowhere and instead would like to continue doing his best to his people of howsoever tiny land and see his stature grow and take pride on. He knows too well that his win is a victory of exclusive his policies and programmers and has nothing to do with the opposition parties in the country and would not allow the victory to be seen as the victory of the opposition.
Besides, Delhi is a union territory depending too much on the centre for even small matters and he has been too much in fighting mode with the centre, which did not help him much. No opposition party too came forward helping him in his fight with the centre every now and then and so he may just like to sit and ponder over his relations with the centre in his own way and style. Over and above, Arvind Kejriwal is yet to become a crude politician. The fire for change and honest care for his people still remains his core value and purpose of his being in politics guiding his course further at least for the near future. AAP has indicated, however, its wishes to expand and perhaps go solo making its own imprint further. If Kejri goes ahead with his Delhi model and succeeds, it may of immense importance for national polity given a situation where Congress remains virtually less than even a regional party. But then he too is required to read and understand his Delhi mandate truly and honestly and go ahead prudently and cautiously. His fabulous winning the capital will have its impact on national polity, the overall political environment of the country and especially on upcoming state elections, though too implicitly and in a very limited way.
Let us first try to understand the mandate of Delhi. There may be a thousand interpretations of the mandate most common being the voters have rejected the ‘communal designs’ of BJP and have voted ‘against it’. This, in fact, is grossly mistaken. The way Congress and other opposition parties reacted on the mandate is grossly ridiculous and only reflects their mental bankruptcy. The Delhi mandate is not against any party, it is for AAP – for progress and growth undergone and propagated and promised by it. Thus the mandate is positive and pro incumbent. Side by side BJP vote share too grew by a remarkable margin keeping it too stand by. Each state voted in a different manner. Maharashtra mandate too was positive and pro incumbent. But Haryana and Jharkhand mandates may be termed as against BJP and anti-incumbent. Forming govts when no party gets comfortable numbers is quite a different game in our set of things for so many reasons. Fact remains BJP coalition govt in Haryana is against the popular mandate as is Maha Aghadi govt in Maharashtra.
Therefore, there is no reason for the opposition to dance on the Delhi mandate for it is exclusively for Kejriwal and AAP and also not against BJP. Parliamentary democracy functions on numbers but the story, ethics and ethos behind the numbers too are important factors when we sit to ponder over the complex subject of analogy behind a mandate. If the Delhi mandate is stretched in straight lines, people of Bihar and West Bengal too would examine the performance of the incumbent govts and vote for or against them. This is the simple analogy one can infer. But things are too complex in these states and Delhi, in any case, cannot be replicated in these states in any manner whatsoever.
There are few things common to at least Bihar and West Bengal elections – One, Nitish Kumar and Mamata Di both are hugely popular among lower middle-class households, especially ladies. But at the same time, both are suffering from huge anti-incumbency factor. Two, Prashant Kishor is already roped in for Mamata Di and would be happily working for the opposition Congress-RJD combine in Bihar given the deep scar Nitish has inflicted upon him and Three, for the BJP the two states need entirely different strategies. For Bihar BJP would do well to go as per the wishes and strategy chalked out by local BJP, especially Sushil Modi, a time tested ally, rather a personal friend of Nitish Kumar and keep in check the fanaticism of certain Bihar leaders working at the
centre. For BJP has to keep in mind that despite being with NDA Nitish Kumar has kept his credibility with Muslims quite intact. For West Bengal BJP may very well go aggressive with the design of Dilip Ghosh as well as the central stars.
Thus, Delhi mandate or model will hardly be of any great use for any election in offing and each of the elections would be unique for each of the stakeholders. Our democracy is too complex – it does not often leave any imprint to be copied elsewhere.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.