The last few days have been turbulent for all of us; it has been a time of soul-searching and introspection, of revisiting our past and present and finding an answer for the future. Of course, there have been dark clouds, but the dark clouds have had a silver lining. The two consecutive defeats in Punjab and in the MCD local election in Delhi has certainly had a bearing on these events, but what is more important is that doomsayers are again going to be disappointed. There is no split in the party. AAP is one and united, and promises to be the same in the future. There is no denying the fact that tough questions were asked; the leadership has shown the courage to face those questions instead of ducking them. Volunteers have shown tremendous resilience and faith in the leadership, and a new course has been found for future battles.
Democracy is a celebration of disagreement, but even after 70 years of this tradition in India, every disagreement is portrayed as a new crisis, and every crisis as a seed of destruction that will lead to the inevitable death of the institution. This shows two things - either our faith in democracy is too feeble, or our passion is so strong that we get rattled with minor aberrations. In the last few days, it has been projected that AAP is going to split and there is an open rebellion against Arvind. Neither is true. Kumar Vishwas's argumentation and outburst has been contextualized with the Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav episode when these two gentlemen decided to walk away despite several meetings for conciliation in which Kumar was also involved.
I am not denying that there was a disagreement. Of course there was. But it was not about the core, it was about the peripheries. It was a part of the churning. It was about finding a reason for the electoral losses of the party. It was an attempt to find a reply to the question - is the four-layered connect between the government, the party, the volunteers and the people intact or broken? A party remains robust as long as the organic connect between the four layers running from the top to bottom and vice-versa is intact. When this connect snaps, it obstructs the flow of messaging and disrupts the whole process. I don't understand why this should be dubbed negative. Why should it be seen as Kumar's rebellion against the top leadership?
Disagreement is nothing new. If we take a leaf from history, then I can cite an example from the freedom movement. Gandhi-ji
was the supreme leader of the movement. His leadership was unquestioned. His moral authority was unparalleled. His were the last words on any issue, but stalwarts like Nehru and Patel, who made giant contributions, had serious disagreements and never restrained themselves from showing their annoyance even as their respect and devotion towards Gandhi-ji
never diminished. In 1934, when Gandhi-ji
finally withdrew his satyagraha
after the famous Dandi Yatra and subsequent years of resistance, Nehru and Patel were enraged. On 2 April, 1934, Gandhi-ji
announced in Bihar - "I must advise all Congressmen to suspend civil resistance for Swaraj as distinguished from specific grievance. They should leave it to me alone...I give this opinion as the author and initiator of satyagraha
...I am quite convinced that this is the best course in the interest of India's fight for freedom."
's grandson Rajmohan Gandhi writes in his book "Mohan Das"
that this opened the doors for Congressmen to contest elections to central assembly or provincial ones. Nehru at that time was in jail. Rajmohan Gandhi writes that Nehru was jolted, writing in his diary that Gandhi's announcement bowled him over and left him fearing he would have to break with Gandhi. Imagine. Nehru was even thinking about leaving Gandhi and charting his own course. Had he in reality deviated from Gandhi-ji
? No. It could at best be explained as the result of an emotional outburst to his logical understanding of historical situations. Nothing more than that. Even Patel who always obeyed Gandhi-ji
was puzzled by the decision. Rajmohan Gandhi writes - "Vallabhai Patel too felt puzzled and pained that Gandhi had snatched away the weapon with which he had armed the people." Sensing the disquiet of Patel, Gandhi wrote a letter to him explaining his position.
It will be a disgrace to compare ourselves with those giants and legends. In comparison to them, we are not even a footnote in history. In no way should it be misunderstood. My only humble endeavour is to underline the point that in any democratic party, disagreements are bound to happen. Leaders and party men will disagree with the top leader and among themselves. Questions will be raised about the articulation and positioning of the party strategies, but the strength of the party is valued by the robustness of the conflict-resolution mechanism, about its resilience to absorb shocks and assaults and reposition itself to fight back. I am fully aware that Indian political history is not replete with such experiences. Political parties have split into many factions on minor issues and small ego battles ended up in the failure of the bigger battles. The Socialist movement went astray despite being the most vibrant ideological group after independence.
The biggest eye-opener was the Janata Experiment. In 1977, the Janata Party, a joint conglomerate of many political parties and political leaders, had replaced the congress. Mrs Indira Gandhi and her son Sanjay Gandhi lost their own elections, but this euphoria died soon as the Janata Party could not remain one. The running feud between Morarji Desai, Charan Singh, Jagjivan Ram, and the ideological fight between socialists and the RSS factions led to the disintegration of the one of the most innovative political experiments in India. Mrs Gandhi was wily; she lured Charan Singh, anointed him the Prime Minister, and then withdrew support from his government.
Similarly, in 1989, another unique experiment failed due to the Big Ego of socialist leader and ex-Congressman Chandrashekhar. Rajiv Gandhi had a mandate bigger than Nehru and Mrs Gandhi, but Bofors proved to be his nemesis. The BJP and the Left gathered together to support V P Singh. He became Prime Minister, but after internal bickering became a volcano, V P Singh was dislodged by Chandrashekhar who could rule only for four months. The Congress once again came back to power in 1991 and also paved way for the rightist assertion in coming years.
AAP is uniquely situated. It's a small party but its footprints are national. Its appeal is pan-India. Two losses have come as a setback, and such public outpouring of emotions does present a hazy picture, but we, the children of history, do understand the lessons of past. I am reminded of Gandhi-ji 's agony. During the partition, Gandhi-ji
said, "Today, I feel all alone." But he also said, "People now ask me to retire to Kashi or go to the Himalayas. I laugh and tell them that the Himalayas of my penance are where there is misery to be alleviated, oppression to be relieved."
AAP is for the common man, the fight goes on and we will continue fighting for the betterment of Aam Aadmi and will certainly do course corrections for that larger vision.(Ashutosh joined the Aam Aadmi Party in January 2014.)Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.