We are headed to an interesting election. And the outcome is still up for grabs. Onlu one thing is certain: Congress will fare poorly. AAP will be a confounding factor. A lot of BJP supporters are worried about AAP. AAP is perceived as another upper middle class phenomenon, sweeping people who are dissatisfied with congress and would have been a ripe pick for the BJP. There has been a lot of hand wringing about AAP stealing votes away. How much do they really need to worry?
Let’s look at what AAP believes in (beyond Lokpal & Swaraj, but those are not the topics today). It proclaims that it is pragmatist. Looking at solutions. But they ignore that fact that every problem has many solutions, and you need to choose the appropriate one based on your ideology. Some times it’s not even clear that a problem exists, forget what is the appropriate solution. eg the issue of inequality in the US. A debate is raging over whether it needs to be addressed at all.
So saying you have no ideology is a copout. Paying lip service to capitalism in front of capitalists is a copout too. What is he going to say, please shut shop and let govt do it? Who will fill its coffers then? The best way to determine the ideology is to look at what they did in power, but that was too short to evaluate.
So I look at the people. Who are the people making this party? There are a bunch of people ranging from left of centre to much further on the left. And who is being promoted? The people firmly on the left. For this we need to look at the people being declared candidates. (By the way, this was as much of
a top down process as congress. No input of the local workers at all)
So who are these people? There are several social activists. Which is a code for people who were political but against both congress and BJP. The people working for some specific cause dear to them, or some specific people: like Adivasis. All leftists. All believe in government intervention to solve problems. None view business as anything but evil. At best a necessary evil. You won’t ever catch them saying profit is a valid motive. All claim to work in grass roots but are actually wedded to top down intervention. Leftist, statist, elitist.
Medha Patkar, Anjali Damania, Meera Sanyal, Soni Sori et al are names firmly to the left of Indian politics. So are names like the Bhushans and Yogendra Yadav. The only other people in AAP are people famous for being famous. Like the guy who does standup + poetry in college festivals and the guy who threw a shoe at Chidambaram.
If you have no ideological leanings, where are the people on the right? Are they not joining the party or being shunned by the party? Aam Aadmi Party is the communist party for non-keralite non-bengali people. In India even the communists are pro investment these days. These guys are the same.
In other words, if the people look really hard at the party and the platform, no BJP supporter will defect to this party. But that is a big “if”. Wishful thinking and blindness are all around us. Those are the curtains BJP should work to lift. Also, AAP may bring a lot of people to polls who were not voting earlier. If Modi can mobilize the base enough that he brings a lot of new voters, BJP can neutralize this.
Can BJP pull this off? Who knows? All I can say is that this is the most interesting election in my memory.