AAP’s big letdown
The newspapers and TV channels have left no stone unturned to remind people of how Arvind Kejriwal swore on his children that he will not come to power taking support from any party (‘I swear on my children [that] there can be no tie-up between us. We are fighting the election against these scam-ridden parties,’ he had said just a few days earlier). And it’s not any party, but the same allegedly hugely corrupt Congress against which his entire election campaign was targeted, with whose support Arvind now plans to come to power! It’s anybody’s guess now with such a support, how genuine his investigations into Congress’ so called scams would be. Welcome to the world of politics.
What is worse is that this entire game is now being seen by many as Kejriwal joining hands with the Congress to sabotage Modi’s chances of coming to power in 2014. And for a new party which swore on being honest and having no truck with other parties, this suspicion can be a huge blot. People would have excused his joining hands/taking support from the BJP, but not his accepting ‘outside support’ from the Congress, for his entire campaign was based on the aam aadmi’s angst against the Congress. In that scenario, people would have happily gone for another round of elections than see the hopes and promises of an honest new party being crushed in the party’s rush to seek power by giving away the keys to its stability to the key party against which it campaigned and garnered votes!
However, personally, I do not see this yet as a lost cause. While I would have never ever been in favour of AAP taking support from Congress to form a government, but now since it’s about to be a reality, I would try and look at the positives.
First is the lack of understanding the economics and intellect of AAP’s rival parties. Calling Aam Aadmi Party’s election promises as being impossible to live up to, is really not realising the facts. Delhi is one of the richest states in India and can easily afford a subsidy of Rs 200 per family per month on electricity and another Rs 20 per family per month on water. In other words, Kejriwal can very easily go ahead and live up to his seemingly undoable election promises very systematically.
This would balance out AAP’s loss of credibilty that will take place from its practical inability to investigate the scams of Congress – given that it’s the Congress whose support will decide how many days Arvind Kejriwal will be known as ‘Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’.
Yet, to me, the big opportunity doesn’t lie in AAP simply fulfilling its electoral promises, for I actually feel these promises were more populist and not what Delhi actually needs. People of Delhi are already paying this Rs 220 a month that is being planned as a subsidy. Such a subsidy will go unnoticed by them and the money would be totally wasted. At about Rs 37.5 thousand crores in the next five years, this is a huge amount of money to be thrown down the drains in subsidies in an era where subsidies are the last thing economies want. The money spent won’t create any asset base nor will it create any employment or production.
What the national capital really needs is that it must become slum free and become an example for the rest of India to follow. And it is exactly Rs 38,000 crore that Delhi needs to make houses for its citizens dwelling in slums. If done, this will be an asset creation; it will give dignity to those who really voted for AAP – the aam aadmi – and it will create additional employment opportunities too. People will be only too glad not to receive the Rs 220 power and water subsidy every month if the alternative, as I’ve described it, is provided.
For AAP, here lies a great opportunity to turn the questioning minds into appreciating fans!
The author is a management guru and director of IIPM think tank