Some of our most important political battles, from Kurukhestra to Panipat, have been fought on the banks of the Yamuna. The Aam Admi Party, being led and supported by debutants in politics has won the most recent one just when the monumental corruption of the Congress was making Bofors look like a toy gun and the BJP, the party which always claimed that organization came first, was promoting the personality cult of Narendra Modi. (perhaps matched only by the slogan of the obsequious Congress President, Devkanta Baruah, “India is Indira and Indira is India”.)
The AAP has challenged several myths of our politics. Electoral politics was considered impossible without the support of big money. Not any more. Ambani and Adani may support RaGa and NaMo but the auto wallahs of Dellhi could drive somebody else’s victory. The women who are supposed to follow the command of wise men in the family in complicated matters such as politics defied their wisdom and became a big support base for AAP. The symbol of a party need not be the Lotus of the elite; it can be the humble sweeper’s Jhadu. Big rallies sponsored by crores of rupees are not necessary – cost-effective Nukkar Sabhas could be equally effective. Family background in politics is a big help – but not always for most of the sons of big names in the BJP and the Congress lost. The middle class, which claims to be the guardian of virtue and political morality has remained cynical; the full throttle and decisive support for a party with not much money came from slum dwellers who have earlier been accused of selling their votes for liquor and cash.
It is reasonably well known that Aap’s impressive debut has three parallels in post independence history where new political formations routed the entrenched political establishment. The first is the victory of the Janata Party in the 1977 national elections. The other two are the victories of Asom Gana Parishad and Telugu Desam Party in the 1985 and 1983 state elections respectively. In terms of electoral results AAP’s performance may be less spectacular but its political significance is not. This is so because Janata Party was only technically a new political formation since its constituents were established political parties and opposition leaders with decades of political goodwill and electoral experience. The Telugu Desam Party was the political rath of N T Rama Rao who was the reigning deity of Andhra Pradesh society for decades. Asom Gana Parishad also had the benefit of an agitation running for years. By contrast, the Aam Admi Party is only a one year old party emanating from a two year old agitation which lost the support of many faces of the agitation before it became a party.
This has the potential to unleash political energy which has not been tapped positively in recent years – students, women and educated professionals coming together with the last man to take up his cause. This breath of fresh air can rejuvenate the older players or uproot them depending on how they choose to respond. Either way society is likely to benefit. AAP has numerous challenges. Their own ideological positioning will have to become clearer and organizational structures will have to emerge. In Delhi, they did not have to face the expanse of the hinterland, its ossified caste structures and musclemen whom they will have to handle the moment they step out of Delhi. They will have to forge new tools to meet these challenges. However, it can safely be contended that this election result has strengthened one’s faith in the regenerative capacity of our society. Such complex political phenomena can be succinctly put across only by a poet who has said:
Fate Hue Chithron Me Bhi Main Ek Devta; Bhrashta Patit Hun Fhir Bhi Divya Pursuh Hun;
Main Udagra Vijayee Jab Paddalit Parajit; Ayu Dirgh Hoti Jab Jab Mera Vadh Hota Hai.