The deafening roar of approval for the ‘Aam Aadmi’ political party is a the sound of deathknell for modern India and progress. Indians (present and former) who have arrogated to themselves the beliefs that they are educated, elite and informed have found in AAP a salve to their faux-secularist conscience.
This is how I had begun my blog post six days ago and had not proceeded to complete it. I hope I will do it today. I had promised Ms. Smita Sanyal – wife of good friend Sanjeev Sanyal and a woman of many accomplishments in her own right – that I would do a blog post on the AAP economics. She had written a good post at NITICentral on the anarchist tendencies of AAP.
With all due immodesty, I was about to prophecy that India would face a economic crisis in the second half of the year, if the ‘Aam Aadmi’ Party (AAP) managed to prevent the formation of a NDA government led by Narendra Modi.
I doubt if this prophecy would be necessary for two reasons. One, the Party is causing disillusionment to its core middle class constituency faster than any of us, who wish well for India, could have wished for. Godspeed.
Second, two very good articles had been published on the economic damage that AAP will cause to India. One is by Sunil Jain published in ‘Financial Express’ dated January 14:
While trying to fix private sector corruption is very important, let’s not forget the huge corruption that takes place in government each year. Between the centre and the state, government procurement budgets run up to around R5 lakh crore a year, and subsidy expenditures by the centre alone add up to over R3 lakh crore—at a conservative 50% leakage, that’s a whopping R1.5 lakh crore of theft each year from just the subsidies. But when is the last time you heard anyone, in government or outside it, talk about curbing this corruption with the same level of passion as curbing corporate corruption? [Link]
Sunil Jain was polite but S.L. Rao, former Director-General of the National Council for Applied Economic Research (NCAER) was more forthright. His byline states that he was also the first chairman of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC). He concluded in his piece, also published in ‘Financial Express’ that the AAP was a bad augury for India’s growth and development.
The AAP’s mindset seems to assure the turning back of this clock. Nostalgia about rural life is no substitute for better livelihoods for millions. If the AAP succeeds in winning, we will see the decline of India. This is because competitive politics will compel other parties also to take the AAP’s ‘popular’ and ‘pro-aam aadmi’ actions….
……. the AAP will put the country back in its growth and development because of its illiteracy on economic matters. We cannot expect the AAP functionaries to change their mindsets of a lifetime. The AAP is a bad augury for India’s growth and development.
Of course, he too makes a concession for their integrity. But, I would not like to hold that against the AAP. They are still young in the game. Where there is populism and centralisation and concentration of power, corruption is inevitable. Just give them some time.
The important point that Shri. S.L. Rao makes is that AAP’s populism will encourage the ever-ready traditional Indian politician to ape their populism. They do not need excuses to do so but still AAP policies will provide them the right motivation to go one step ahead of them. I understand that AAP’s general amnesty to power thieves in Delhi from March 2013 has been put on hold. Thank god for that. But, the Haryana government has already decided to take a leaf out of AAP book.
The middle class – whether they voted for AAP (if in Delhi) or not – saw in him a neat compromise between the Congress and the BJP. But, their judgement was as lazy as it was incorrect. Lazy because they had not bothered to examine and validate their priors about Narendra Modi and equally, they were not rigorous enough to examine the feasibility and desirability of AAP goals and methods. They went for AK’S magic broom, not knowing or bothering to know their intentions and goals.
I would like to highlight two blog posts that I wrote in 2011 on the anti-corruption agitation led, at that time, by Anna Hazare and gang of which Arvind Kejriwal was a part and on the comments of Prashant Bhushan on India’s post-liberalisation track record on corruption. I had drawn attention to his wrong attitude towards economic reforms and liberalisation. I doubt if the wrong attitude was borne out of ignorance. It was deliberate.
In a more recent MINT column written after the announcement of results to five State Assemblies, I had mentioned the following:
Some of the positions it has taken on matters of national importance and security have been, to put it charitably, questionable and naïve and, uncharitably, anti-national. [Emphasis now added] – LINK
Now, calling their positions ‘anti-national’ no longer sounds uncharitable or unfair. But, logical. Look at some of the remarks and actions:
Expressing solidarity with the anti-nuclear protest in Koodankulam, Aam Aadmi Party leader Prashant Bhushan has invited PMANE leader SP Udayakumar to join his party. [Link]
Udayakumar’s agitation against the nuclear power plant in Koodankulam was a well-planned and executed obstructionist move against India’s development imperatives and the power needs.
Then, there was the remark by Prashant Bhushan on the need for referendum on the deployment of security forces in the areas occupied by Maoists. Arvind Kejriwal issued an unconvincing denial that he said that.
He had also called for a referendum in Kashmir on the deployment of Indian armed forces. He has not said anything about the only known instance of ethnic cleansing in India – the systematic ‘explusion’ of Kashmiri Pandits from the valley.
The AAP government in Delhi scrapped the previous government’s decision to welcome Foreign Direct Investment into multi-brand retail in India. Multi-brand retail would be neither a panacea nor a disaster for India. But, to reverse a decision taken is to send a bad signal to outsiders when they are already being scared out of India by a overzealous and arbitrary Income-Tax Department in the country.
While industry bodies were alarmed at the decision, it is baffling that some of their own had found reasons to join the AAP. That gives us reasons to doubt their intellectual rigour.
In fact, the futuristic satire that Salil Tripathi wrote for MINT on the future of India under Narendra Modi would have fitted too aptly for the future of India under A.A.P. Pity that his blind hatred for Modi precluded his seeing that. In any case, to mention ‘future’ and ‘AAP’ in the same sentence is an oxymoron.
Then, just a few days ago, the AAP government in Delhi meted out one of the worst possible humiliations to women and that too, African women. This news came on the day when the Chinese government had decided to extend visa-free travel to Nigerian officials and diplomats. The contrast could not have gone unnoticed in African capitals and media. It would have been impossible to come up with a worse diplomatic disaster than this.
When I expressed my alarm at the anarchy deliberately spread by the AAP to a friend, he reassured me that the genius of modern-day India is that it neither allows good people to succeed nor bad people to succeed for long. I was not convinced but I hope he is right.
I had also asked him if one should label A.A.P a Naxalite party. He disagreed. He is right. Naxals believe in violent methods to overthrow the existing order. He said that the A.A.P was better labelled Nihilist. It is more accurate. Naxalites are nihilists but Nihilists are not Naxalites.
One definition of Nihilism is this:
a doctrine or belief that conditions in the social organization are so bad as to make destruction desirable for its own sake independent of any constructive program or possibility. [Link]
That fits. The A.A.P had no interest in governance. It wanted the displacement of the existing social order and it did not think it necessary to offer an alternative. Hence, the anarchy that they have let loose on Delhi is not incompetence but deliberate.
I was tempted to rename AAP into AAAP where ‘AAA’ stands for Arrogant, Arbitrary and Anarchic. Then, I realised that ‘Arbitrary’ was superfluous. The arbitrariness is deliberate and arises out of the goal to create anarchy. Surjit Bhalla gets it. He says that, if asked to choose between the AAP and the Congress, he would opt for the decrepit, corrupt and failed Congress Party.
Hence, AAP stands for the Arrogant and Anarchist Party.
Two messages for those who are still besotted with AAP:
(1) You could do a lot worse than reading this article by a ‘Aam Aadmi’
(2) I am aware that the pathetic performance of the UPA government and its shameless defence by its incompetent leader has evoked a rage in all of you. Yes, he has earned ‘good men a bad name’. But, I hope that you do not allow the rage to become so impotent as the man who was responsible for it. Channelise it well and choose wisely in the national elections. AAP is as much part of the problem as the Congress party is.