After victory, burden of proof now on AAP: The Tribune India
The citizens of Punjab have spectacularly committed regicides. This is political theater at its finest. A people driven into debt, drug and alcohol addiction, unemployment, whose fields have been degraded and who suffer from various diseases of the human condition, have spoken to history. One leader after another was defeated in his own stronghold. Will it lead to well-being? The Punjabis have taken up arms against a sea of unrest. Will the massive mandate given to the Aam Aadmi party put an end to its troubles?
We should celebrate the massive victory of a new party in Punjab. The AAP negotiated on the “Delhi model of governance”. He raised hopes that all the problems facing the Punjabis, problems that caused their children to take refuge abroad, will be solved. There is reason to hope. In Delhi, the AAP strengthened the public education and health systems. Pupils in “public schools” have passed the school-leaving exams. Mohalla committees have been set up. Leaders are accessible. After the second round of Covid destroyed lives, livelihoods and families, the government did its best to help those who survived the tragedy. Fortunately, we are not subject to hate speech. Delhi’s government ministers don’t spend their time counting Hindus and Muslims.
However, there is an unease. The AAP speaks the language of governance. He belongs to a post-ideological world. But it is the ideology that speaks of the politics of a party. Of course, a government should not be corrupt. But politics is always contested. Who challenges governance and corruption? So what is the policy of the AAP? Around the world, governments that prohibit corruption happen to be police states. Democratic states should do more, they should be able to tell us what they stand for.
It is precisely here that the AAP faltered. He did not take a position on inalienable human rights, and certainly not on the right to protest against the anti-CAA agitation, Shaheen Bagh, the attack on students and professors at Jawaharlal Nehru University in January 2020 by morons, and against fabricated communal riots. in Delhi in February 2020. Can we trust him to safeguard the rights of citizens? This is what democratic governments are supposed to do. Make no mistake about it, authoritarian governments provide their people with social goods as part of social policy. What they are not doing is protecting fundamental rights and freedoms.
Ominously on crucial issues, the AAP falls under the provenance of right-wing conservatism: public display of religious rituals and Hindu religious imagery. The party articulates and implements anxious expressions of overmature Indian nationalism, such as desh-bhakti in schools. A thoughtless and excessive nationalism diverts the reasoned consideration of issues, such as justice, which are crucial to the project of living together in a political community. On nationalism, we should take inspiration from Rabindranath Tagore. “I am ready to serve my country,” says Nikhil, the protagonist of Tagore, in Ghare Baire, “but I reserve my worship for law, which is far greater than any country. To worship my country like a god is to inflict a curse on it. Rabid nationalism, if employed in the wrong cause, or if exploited to defend and rationalize institutionalized injustice, can cause more harm to the nation and its people than critical questioning of the project . Let people identify with the nation in their own way. Leave them and their nation alone.
Finally, the AAP failed to build a party organization. It’s still a one-man party. Ministers and senior officials greet the leader with as much fervor as Modi cabinet ministers greet the prime minister. If the AAP wants to be a different party, it should begin to institutionalize organizations that facilitate democratic interaction with its cadres and with the people. Let them hold the chef responsible, challenge him, grill him and offer alternatives. In short, the group must be careful not to slip into a durbar. Congress withered away for this very reason. The BJP is better off because a disciplined RSS cadre mobilizes people, however pathetically undemocratic that mobilization may be.
If the AAP wants to govern Punjab well and solve some, if not all, of its problems, it should hasten to build and strengthen a party organization. Telephone consultation is bad policy, democratic decentralization is good policy. What Punjab needs is good politics, responsive politics, democratic politics, not politics that revolves around a supreme leader. That AAP does not subordinate the hopes of Punjabis to an individual, or even a collective. Punjab has suffered enough, it is time to restore a state that was once the pride of India to its former glory. But nothing can be done if the party that leads it is not democratic and if the leader is not a statesman. Statesmen do not practice demagoguery. They practice the art of listening to people and responding to them effectively. They heal wounds, do not inflict more harm. This is the difference between statesmen and agitated politicians.