Friday, 13 February 2015

AAP Ki Sarkaar

Dear Mr. Kejriwal,

Let me start off by congratulating you on your party's landslide victory in Delhi. As comebacks go, this has to be one of the most extraordinary ever.

As an aam aadmi, your party's victory gives us the hope that we finally have a political party that can bring transparency and an end to corrupt practices in election funding and distribution of election tickets. It gives us the hope that we finally have a party of our own, which can produce leaders who come up in life on personal merit, not due to accident of birth.

It was refreshing to see you urge your party members not to get arrogant in the hour of victory. I take it that you have realised, as we all do, the fact that your party could fill the vaccuum of opposition created by the Congress' steep fall from grace. This could be golden opportunity to rewrite the rules of the game. However, as a well wisher I would like to sound a cautionary note before you embark on your second innings as the Chief Minister of Delhi.

To start with, let me remind you that there's no place for ultimatums in a democracy. No matter how strongly you feel about your viewpoint, in a democracy decisions have to be made by consensus, not by force. It was one thing for you to sit on a dharna when you were an activist, quite another to do it when you were the chief minister of a state. You lost a golden opportunity as well as your credibility once by serving an ultimatum. I trust the lesson wasn't lost on you.

Secondly, let me remind you of the midnight raid led by your party minister Mr. Bharti. Whatever his intentions may have been, the minister had no right to instruct police officer what to do- that's the prerogative of senior officers, not politicians. Political interference in the functioning of the police is the very reason why most Indians have no faith in the police or the judiciary. If your party truly believes in cleaning up the system, it would do well to remember that a clear separation between legislature, judiciary and executive is indispensable for a healthy democracy.

Third, let me urge you not to let populist urges get the better of you. Your party promised power at nearly half the current rate for the first 200 units. I'm sure you're intelligent enough to realise that such freebies will do more harm than good eventually. Such foolish, irresponsible populism is the main reason why the vast majority of the state owned power companies are on the verge of bankruptcy and millions of Indians have to live with power outages running into several hours. Eventually you'll have to take the courage to tell the public that nothing comes free.

On a related note, Mr. Kejriwal, your economic vision frankly alarms me. The economic prosperity that India has experienced over the two decades until UPA II was because of the sterling work of Indian entrepreneurs. Its no coincidence that the few pockets of excellence owe to the private sector. I trust you realise that India needs less government, not more. The government can only facilitate growth, not make it happen. As we have learnt from personal experience from our socialist years, raja bane vyaapari toh praja bane bhikari'.

Fourth, I hope that you never lose your idealism. Forget not, that the Indian National Congress- that old party of Gandhi, Nehru, Patel and Bose (not the present day family owned political party)- too became corrupt after the first taste of power in the late 30s. That's how fast idealism can vanish Mr. Kejriwal. Having been in the field yourself, you have a much better idea of the sheer scale of the challenge before you. 

Lastly Mr. Kejriwal, I urge you to move ahead one step at a time. We all dream of seeing your party as a national party that can change the very nature of Indian politics. For that, AAP will need to become a strongly entrenched regional party with a strong track record before spreading out to other states. That naturally takes a long time- at least a decade or two. Admittedly its difficult, but definitely doable. Remember, it took the BJP three decades of existence (plus nearly three more as the old Bharatiya Jan Sangh) and a charismatic leader with a strong record of performance to win with an outright majority.

Once again Mr. Kejriwal, my hearty congratulations on the historic victory. Just remember that you have only taken a baby step. There's still a long long way to step at a time.