An ordinary Indian’s disappointment with ‘AAP KI SARKAR!’
How did Aam Aadmi Party manage to crush my trust in ‘the politics of change’ with a TV Commercial?
I know my opinion does not matter, as people in power would pay attention to a voiceless middle-class Indian like me only during elections! I am sure you read my cynicism when it comes to politics right between the lines of that first sentence.
Yes, you are right! I am that politically cynical, self-righteous Indian who used to hate politics and politicians. I am the product of the corporate move in the 90s, as the impact of 1991 economic liberalization was beginning to be felt, to create a generation of apolitical Indians. I never used to go out and vote because as an apolitical middle-class Indian I felt it was of no use. Political parties continued to thrive and be as corrupt as they could be, banking on my apathy towards politics and my decision not to exercise my right to vote!
Come 2011 and things began to turn around in India, dramatically!
As Wikipedia puts it, “The 2011 Indian anti-corruption movement was a series of demonstrations and protests across India intended to establish strong legislation and enforcement against perceived endemic political corruption. The movement was named among the “Top 10 News Stories of 2011” by Time magazine.”
And lo and behold, Aam Aadmi Party was born right out of the movement that attempted to poke the establishment to root out corruption, promising a new kind of politics — The Politics of Swaraj! The party successfully managed to bring politics back into the lives of millions of could-not-be-bothered-any-more middle class Indians! I was political again and there was nothing to be ashamed about it!
We fell in love with the Muffler Man,
and his style of politics!
Arvind Kejriwal was a fresh breath into the hitherto stagnant Indian political leadership that lacked imagination, was caught up in dynasty politics and demonstrated a hunger for power, an arrogance. We loved the man right away! We felt happy that he kept saying, “If I do not win this election, I do not lose anything. India loses and not me!” We admired his positive energy when he posted ‘Political revolution in India has begun. Bharat jaldi badlega” on his Twitter handle. And he won the Delhi election big time, even though people in power thought he would be wiped out after his major set-back in Lok Sabha elections. We felt hopeful. Energized.
And one TV Commercial crushed that hope, mercilessly!
Do not get me wrong! I am not influenced by the attitude of mainstream media and politicians who engage in the rhetoric of ‘damn if you do, damn if you don’t’ against Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party!
I laughed off those people who said Kejriwal got the support of Congress to rule Delhi during his first term. I never believed those who kept saying AAP stands for anarchy and not governance. I always believed Kejriwal did the right thing by resigning when he was not allowed to table the Jan Lokpal Bill by BJP and Congress. I trusted his judgement when he ousted Yogendra Yadav from the party as I believed a young party like AAP, with too many enemies all around, would be hijacked if they exercised internal democracy when it came to electing leaders. I never believed that AAP had anything to do with any of the controversies that hit them one after another during the second term. I believed the Lt. Governor was wrong and the Centre was wrong in trying to crush the elected government of Delhi. My stance on none of the above has changed, even after the dumb TV commercial that I am supposed to be telling you about!
Why am I making a mountain out of the molehill of a TV Commercial?
Issue 1: TV Commercial, really?
AAP should have known better! In India, we are regularly subjected to tasteless Government-sponsored propaganda commercials on TV and in newspapers and we have developed an aversion to the same. Indians are not fools and we know that Government-sponsored advertisements are in fact advertisements for the party in power. Any political party in India that relied on TV/Newspaper Ads to promote themselves was always taught a lesson by thinking Indians.
When I saw the commercial on TV for the first time, I almost thought that some anti-AAP party must have got the new channels to play these to put the party in trouble. Such was the ridiculousness of that commercial! All this when we thought AAP stood for the politics of the people and not the politics of sloganeering through TV commercials. All this when we thought that APP knew to effectively use social media to reach out to people, even if main stream media cut them off.
Issue 2: The lame ad copy
No, do not get me started on the sexist subtext of the commercial. That will make this rant go wild!
I am talking about the misconception that AAP has developed after the Delhi election — that Indians are fools! Here is how the ad goes: How did Arvind Kejriwal manage to reduce the price of electricity? He ended corruption and managed to save money doing so and used that money to reduce the price of electricity! Who ever wrote the copy for this commercial and whoever approved it deserve a tight slap across their faces for thinking up this stupid line of argument! They are either demented or think that Indians are demented. (I know you do not need an explanation as to why the ad copy is lame!)
Issue 3: Who the hell is Arvind Kejriwal?
Can you beat it! The two-minute TV commercial mentions Arvind Kejriwal’s name at least 9 times. Does AAP want India to chant the name of Arvind Kejriwal the same way BJP wants India to chant Narendra Modi’s name? No, we have no wrong notion that Arvind Kejriwal is a Messiah! We love you as a leader, but trust us if you show dictatorial tendencies we do not like it. You can be our leader only as long as you work for us. Indians are fed up of hero-worship, if you ask me.
I do not see any difference between Narendra Modi’s infamous pinstripe suit and Arvind Kejriwal’s name-chanting TV commercial. And we do not expect this kind of megalomania from a man who is supposed to lead India to participatory democracy and clean politics.
The timing of the advertisement was the most shocking! It ran on TV around the same time L K Advani warned that the forces that can destroy democracy and lead India to an emergency are stronger than ever. And the one party you had some hopes in began its efforts to convert itself into a dictatorial one-man show around the same time. Name-chanting, my foot! Do you need any other reason to be disappointed?
To Indians, inclination towards authoritarianism is worse than economic corruption. We may forgive corruption. But we never forgive any attempt to topple Indian democracy. We may put up with one-man shows for sometime. But we will never forgive it.
If at all Arvind Kejriwal wants to apologize to the nation, it is not for resigning after his 49-day stint in Delhi that he should apologize. If he has any sense of responsibility left in him, he should apologize for this name-chanting TV Commercial! Or oust those people who approved it to go on air, embarrassing us!
Note: The views expressed here are my own and does not reflect that of any organization I work with in any capacity.