What attracted common citizens to the Aam Aadmi Party was its unsullied image.
Before its rise, the typical politician was either a dubious personality like Lalu Yadav with multiple criminal cases against him, or a sophisticated swindler of the Congress variety. The khadi-clad, pan-chewing, pot-bellied politician with an entourage of goons and grovelling policemen was caricature summing up whatever was wrong with the country.
The political system, although inexorably intertwined with the lives of common citizens, had been totally made inaccessible to the citizens (it still is).
Expanding his political hold seemed to be Kejriwal's only objective. And even for that, the strategy seemed to be centred on generating mostly senseless noise.
Associating with a political party would mean regularly interacting with uncouth, roguish characters which, the common man or woman walking down the street couldn't do, or didn't want to do. Closely trying to work with a political party could quickly turn into a nuisance or, a life-threatening situation (still holds true).
Then suddenly, here was a political party that seemed upstanding and accessible. Its members looked like normal folks. They didn't sport those khadi outfits that had begun to signify political corruption and they were not walking around with a menagerie of hoodlums and bully policemen. They looked like your average neighbourhood uncleji, auntieji, betaji and betiji. It seemed like a political party for the people, by the people. Democracy appeared to have finally arrived in the country.
Non-political persons who had made a mark in different fields of business, banking, arts and cinema, law, the forces, literature and social work thronged to join the party, either to fight elections or work as volunteers. Common citizens were getting a chance to do something constructive for the country at last.
Politics, many commented, was turning a new leaf in the country and soon the Aam Aadmi Party would rewrite the operating manual of Indian politics.
The churning of the anticorruption movement through which the Aam Aadmi Party had originated was a movement primarily against the Congress, which then was the epitome of corruption in the country.
But a strange trait began to manifest soon after Arvind Kejriwal donned the political mantle. Ridding India of a corrupt political system no longer remained his priority. Expanding his political hold over the country seemed to be the only objective. And even for that, instead of constructive work and outreach programmes, the strategy seemed to be centred on generating mostly senseless noise.
The first jolt that his supporters got was when he formed the government in Delhi with the support of the same political outfit that had become synonymous with corruption of epic proportions—the Congress. This should have been taken as a sign of the times to come, but still, people wanted to give him the benefit of doubt and considered his initial decisions as accepting smaller defeats for bigger victories. When you put so much trust in a person, you are scared of the vacuum that the absence of that trust creates.
Even if the underdog begins to look suspicious, people tend to cut them some slack.
Also, there was this image of a David taking on a Goliath. Who wouldn't have sympathy for the underdog? Even if the underdog begins to look suspicious, people tend to cut them some slack.
Even when Kejriwal's first government didn't last for more than 49 days due to a political crisis caused by his own desperation, the people of Delhi gifted him a mandate that made history. Such a majority would have inspired any straight-thinking individual to get down to business and improve the lot of the people who had put their trust in him so overwhelmingly. The AAP government could have made Delhi a model city—just as Modi had promoted his Gujarat model and reaped political benefits, Kejriwal could have done the same. Unfortunately, that was not to happen.
Too much power either makes you arrogant or humble. Unfortunately, for the new political experiment, most of the AAP members chose to be the former.
From corruption to sexual scandals to selling of tickets to nepotism to money laundering to pandering to communal and casteist forces for political gains to misogyny and racism to spending government money on advertising to taking their families abroad to conniving with "friendly" journalists, there is no allegation that hasn't been made against the AAP. And if you say these allegations were made as political vendetta, you must remember that the same sorts of allegations were made by the founders of the AAP to win public confidence and appreciation. Why have different yardsticks for different individuals in different political parties?
People will be now cynical about the next political experiment, no matter how noble it is. A great opportunity has been squandered.
The AAP seems to have become an integral part of the very system it wanted to, or at least claimed to be wanting to, uproot.
In fact, people have begun to get bored of all the controversies surrounding the party. The latest allegations being made by Kapil Sharma, whether true or false, have surprised few. Such is the rot that has begun to be associated with the AAP. Nobody even cares.
It has been a swift fall for the AAP. The biggest casualty is the hope for a cleaner, citizen-centric polity. People will be now cynical about the next political experiment, no matter how noble it is. A great opportunity has been squandered.