Kejriwal's words have proved prophetic as an arrogant AAP lost Punjab, Goa and finally, Delhi. I was hoping that after the MCD results; there would be some serious introspection and course correction. The first two days have given a mixed response.
Instead of gracefully accepting the verdict of the voters, as has been the tradition of Indian democracy - we saw AAP leaders show their typical traits of arrogance and anger while venting and spewing venom at EVMs and the BJP. I was distraught - will they ever learn? Instead of focusing on the bad works by BJP in MCD for 10 years, the arrogance of the party made them convert the election campaign as a referendum on Kejriwal vs Modi and AAP lost miserably. AAP just does not seem to understand that Delhi and India are angry with the party. They seem to have lost touch with the ground.
But then Kejriwal tweeted congratulating the winners and some semblance of sanity returned.
More hopes were raised as Sanjay Singh and Durgesh Pathak resigned from top Punjab posts taking responsibility of the failures. Ashish Talwar and Dilip Pandey have done the same for Delhi debacle. All of them (except Talwar) though continue to be part of AAP's highest decision-making body - the Political Affairs Committee (PAC). But, rather than finding faults, let me wholeheartedly welcome the fact that at least someone is showing accountability.
In a political party or government, sanskar or culture always flows from the top. If there is genuine churning and introspection, then there is no need to insulate the top leadership from accountability.
Arvind Kejriwal should quit as either the convenor of AAP or the Chief Minister of Delhi. The party is seeing its lowest support in its short history. Actually, AAP is looked upon today as a party of non-serious politicians at best and an anti-national vote-bank political party at worst. Should Kejriwal not take the onus?
The voters of Delhi have spoken and given their verdict as AAP's vote share plummeted from 54% in 2015 to 26% now. So, he has failed as the Chief Minister too.
My view is that Kejriwal should not hold two positions and give up the post of the Convenor of AAP. He can appoint someone with integrity and ability like an Atishi or Prithvi Reddy or both together.
They should take up two major roles - one would be to create strong organisation and leadership in stares where the party has a good presence. Eventually, there is a need to go down to booth level to create a robust organisation with internal elections. The party at the state level should only contest local elections for the next few years. This will strengthen the grass root base, and only after getting good results in Municipal and Zilla Parishad elections should the party venture to fight state-level elections.
The second role is more important and that should be to create systems and processes to ensure that the agenda of the party is not compromised again. There is a need for a volunteer-driven and transparent, accountable party that has internal democracy and collective leadership at the top. The leadership should be pan-India (leadership and decision-making should not be Delhi centric). Create an independent internal Lokpal (preferably bring back Admiral Ramdas, who served the party with such grace and distinction), make donations and accounts transparent, bring back the donation list on the website, make the party RTI - compliant, decentralise decision-making and create grievance redressal mechanisms. Volunteers should once again become the primary unit of the party.
Kejriwal should continue as the Chief Minister of Delhi and take up key portfolios in the Delhi government. For the next three years, AAP Delhi should focus on good governance in Delhi. Instead of blaming others and ranting, the party should concentrate on doing some silent, serious and genuine governance. Maybe, maybe people may change their mind about AAP.
Leave the PM-ship ambition for now.
Kejriwal should call a major party meeting and apologise to its volunteers and to the nation. Personally I would be really happy, if the present leadership can put aside their egos and old wounds for the nation. The top leadership of AAP should interact with Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav and genuinely request them to join the party and give them some serious responsibility. AAP has not won a single election after they have been removed. As for Swaraj India, victory in elections is far, far away.
Most importantly, AAP should get back to its original purpose of existence and that is to create an alternative political culture. Along with millions of our countrymen, I have also dreamt of a new party that would create an agenda of development and equity, which is good for the nation. I have no interest in being back in electoral politics, my interest is a modern, progressive and successful India. And for that, AAP is needed as a serious, principled political party.
AAP was not created so that some people could play power games or travel in first class or build personal brands with public money.
The only obstacle in this path is personal ego, personal ambition and anger. Leadership needs humility, wisdom, maturity and meritocracy. Forgive and forget. The nation is much bigger than all of us and our egos put together.
(Mayank Gandhi quit as member of the National Executive of the Aam Aadmi Party in November, 2015.)
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