Millennium Post

AAP still remains an unfinished project

Now that the Centre and the Arvind Kejriwal-led Delhi government have beaten a mutual retreat and saved the Indian republic, at least its most celebrated parade-charade that is observed on 26 January, let us take a step back and analyse what has so far transpired in the heart of the national capital. While the showdown between the Aam Aadmi Party government and Delhi police was premised on a legitimate concern, what the Kejriwal-engineered dharna at Rail Bhavan managed to obtain was more public nod at the expense of losing the support from sections of liberal intelligentsia, which was horrified by the marauding misogyny and raucous racism of the Indian aam aadmi and a number of its representatives. Clearly, the demand of bringing law and order under government’s jurisdiction is an old one, previously raised by both former Congress and BJP regimes. Perhaps where AAP and the Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal offer novelty is the manner in which they put forward their demand, riding high on agitprop dramatisation and reclaiming Delhi’s majoritarian streets, morphing them into spaces and places of democratic dissent. Moreover, that the Centre was forced to give in, albeit partially, and send the station house officers, who defied the law minister Somnath Bharti’s order to arrest some African nationals during the notorious midnight raid in Khirki Extension few nights back, also indicates that the Congress-led union government, particularly the union home ministry, is quite flummoxed by this democratic guerilla tactics, the anarchopacifist techniques of nonviolent civil disobedience, and is evidently caught in the wrong side of political one-upmanship. Kejriwal and its team of AAP members have certainly upped the ante, tapping into the pulse of the beating heart inside every aam aadmi, who accepted the temporary inconvenience in the Capital city hoping for a string of great expectations, longer-term benefits as enumerated in AAP’s assembly poll manifesto.

 But there lies the rub. What about the ordinary women and immigrants, especially the black people? Can anyone deny that Somnath Bharti’s midnight raid was anything but an emotionally-charged response to regressive, middle-class, religio-fanatic sentiments that feel threatened by people of a different colour filling up their neighbourhood? What about the washed out views on sex work and prostitution, weighing them in moralistic frames when activists everywhere, including here in the national capital, are trying their best, spreading awareness campaigns and knocking law’s door, to legalise it. Even in the current scheme of things, it’s soliciting sex work that is illegal, but not pursuing it professionally. In such a case, wasn’t it downright unfair of Bharti to lead an assault against the women and subjecting them to incredible humiliation? It is obvious that AAP has a lot of ironing out to do as far as their ideological rough edges are concerned. While reclaiming Delhi as the centre of popular protest is a brilliant continuation of their India Against Corruption days, it is equally true that governance, which is their responsibility, cannot allow them to not consider the myriad fallouts of such myopic demonstrations. Intriguingly, in the wake of Arvind Kejriwal’s and AAP’s outstanding election debut, CPI-M leader Prakash Karat and sections of the media had collectively mused whether the role of the progressive left has been permanently wrenched by the broom-wielders of Delhi. It is for AAP and Kejriwal to see to it now whether that indeed was the case.
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