Hazare & Kejriwal: The political-apolitical divide not good for AAP

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Did Arvind Kejriwal and his political party, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), make a hasty decision on joining politics? The ruckus that occurred at the AAP leader's press conference on Monday and the consequent controversy involving Kejriwal and his mentor Anna Hazare, the man who had begun the latest anti-corruption crusade in India, indicate at such a conclusion.

[Read: Is Hazare movement significant for Indian democracy?]

Any movement in the society comprises two levels of evolution. First, a spontaneous agitation begins over a unifying cause strengthened by an ideology and second, institutionalisation of that agitation under the guidance of a strong leadership shaped by the ideology and an organisation fed by both the ideology and the leadership.

The movement that Anna Hazare had started some years ago had a promising start. People still remember the massive mobilisation the activist had made possible in Mumbai a couple of years ago while raising a strong voice against corruption and Jan Lokpal. There were opinions in favour of or against the man and his method. Some also saw a shadow Jayaprakash Narayan in Anna and predicted that like the Loknayak in the 1970s, Anna's movement had some drawbacks.

All movement evolves into an institution but AAP was perhaps set up too early

But whatever it was, Anna Hazare's movement had created a stir no doubt. He had given an outlet to the people's anger against a tainted regime and his agitation showed that the Indian democracy still protests whenever institutionalised forces try to undermine its credibility. It was a welcome phenomenon, and didn't need to wait for a value judgment.

But after Arvind Kejriwal and his followers decided to form a political party, it marked a sad turn in the course of what looked a promising story. The movement, which till then, was looking compact suddenly looked a divided venture heading to several directions.

Kejriwal donned the mantle of a politician thereafter and his focus was concentrated on exposing leaders of the two major parties or people closely related to them. His opponents also started to use the same formula against him (and since his only issue is corruption, the anti-AAP forces found it easy to pay him back in his own medicine) and in the resulting mud-slinging, the actual goal of the anti-corruption movement looked lost.

It would have been better had Kejriwal and his followers decided to enter politics through an evolutionary process and not hastily with an eye on the Delhi polls. The Congress and the BJP too had a long evolutionary history before their institutional emergence and the same holds true about several political outfits across the world. Like old wine, politics also matures with age but one feels in the case of the AAP, the middle-class euphoria and the non-stop focus of the media that caters to the middle-class made Kejriwal and his supporters over-enthusiastic.

The AAP was perhaps an overenthusiastic project of a few ambitious individuals but the problem is that this party has a big involvement with the passion of the common people and the latest controversy between Hazare and Kejriwal doesn't suit the party's image. Both the leaders are held in high regards by the people who have desperately seek a third alternative which will address their problems more from a non-politicised platform.

But by engaging in attacks and counter-attacks, one feels Kejriwal and his team have somewhat eclipsed their ideological base and are doing what average politicians do. The party has also shrunk its base geographically by asserting itself as a force that aims to clean up only Delhi. The leadership also looks divided at the moment with Hazare asking Kejriwal not to 'misuse' his name. The AAP still looks an exciting player? Let's wait and watch.

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