By T S Sudhir
Senior journalist Pritish Nandy tweeted over the weekend : “Every interview with @ArvindKejriwal aired gets AAP a whole bunch of new followers.” May I add that everytime Yogendra Yadav – who I respect immensely – in his extremely measured tone and polite language, gives a print or a television interview, a whole lot of Indians would think, this guy deserves my support.
But bring in another journalist, Ashutosh, a new entrant into AAP into the picture and you would want to say “AAP to aise na the”. Everytime he makes an appearance on TV as AAP’s official spokesperson, the same bunch of new followers, I seriously suspect, want to press `Exit’.
Agreed that the Aam Aadmi Party’s operational style is very in the face. Aggressive. Confrontationist. No-holds barred. But all this while, we, the Aam Aadmi of India, were also led to believe that the `A’ in AAP means Aam. If `A’ is to stand for Arrogance, then I might as well go with the tried-and-tested Congress and BJP leaders, who at least do not make a pretence of being any different.
AAP is clearly a party in a hurry. Kejriwal admits so as well. But the hurry does not seem to be so much to bring better governance to Delhi – savour Kejriwal’s “Sarkaar kisse bachani hai’‘ line (Who wants to save our government?) to both Barkha Dutt and Rajdeep Sardesai in interviews over the weekend – but to gain enough traction in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections. Kejriwal and company certainly realise that the polls present an opportunity to make it a BJP versus AAP battle, given the dismal state of the Congress. Even if the situation on the ground does not quite bear that out – the AAP is a non-entity in most states of India – the strategy seems to be to occupy the mindspace of the voter in a manner so intense, that AAP is seen as the X-factor in several contests.
Ideally, a party with 28 MLAs in a city assembly should not count for much. Does anyone care for one state parties that exist in India? But given the `Delhi is India’ syndrome that the Delhi-based `national’ media suffers from, anything that is spoken in Indraprastha translates into an `India Speaks’ across television channels, helping AAP get magnified several times over. It is again because of the media exposure that AAP’s membership drive got several thousands lining up to register themselves as members of the organisation.
“Desh me aandhi chal rahi hai (there is a storm blowing across the country),” says Kejriwal. Indeed. But does he realise that the duststorm is throwing mud into AAP’s own house and Kejriwal will have to soon wield the broom to clean up his own stable.
AAP has for long suffered from the fixation of labelling anyone who is critical of its ways, as dishonest and corrupt. Ashutosh takes the umbrage a notch lower by claiming on national television that Kiran Bedi should be taught a lesson. Why? Because she bats for Modi and is critical of Kejriwal’s ways (she was defining anarchist when Ashutosh made the comment). As laughable as it may sound, even Arnab Goswami had to ask Ashutosh to be “tolerant”.
Last week, Mani Shankar Aiyer was disgusting with his “Modi can open a tea stall at the AICC session” remark and Subramaniam Swamy called Rahul Gandhi a “buddhu”. Ashutosh looks set to be the AAP version of the two leaders, unleashing his brand of verbal anarchy. Clearly, not only does AAP aim to punch above its weight but also sledge its way through the Indian Political League.