If only the Aam Aadmi Party had a Mahatma Gandhi

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The excitement around the rally of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Kumar Vishwas in Amethi on Sunday was a valid one. The effort of the AAP in trying to reach out beyond the limits of Delhi despite the physical attacks at various parts of the country is commendable. The fledgling party is yet to have a strong organisation but it is not ready to retreat in the face of powerful resistance. It is even challenging the Gandhis in their own den, reflecting how much strength the idea of popular democracy has attained in this country.

AAP's membership drive is phenomenal, reminds the vintage Congress

The membership drive of the party in various parts of the country is phenomenal. For those who have not seen the rise of the Congress in the pre-independence days as a social coalition to challenge a powerful regime of colonialists, the AAP's spreading wings is something to cherish. People from all walks of life are joining it, lending it a bigger popular support with each passing day and all this is happening despite the party having no organisational power as such. Powerful political forces like the Congress and BJP have started to feel nervous by the AAP's rise. This is no mean feat.

AAP is gaining a positive energy, but can its leadership utilise it?

But yet the AAP lags behind in one crucial aspect and that is its top leadership. The Congress, during its days as a true party of the aam aadmis, was fortunate to have a powerful combined leadership at the top and despite ideological differences between various towering personalities, the party continued to proceed from strength to strength. The sound leadership helped the party's organisation to get stronger and the soft and centrist ideology benefitted its coalition character. The presence of the giant named Mahatma Gandhi did an immense favour to the Congress as a party of the masses.

No individual or ideology as pivot for the AAP

In case of the AAP, there is neither any individual nor any ideology to act as a pivot. The horizontal spread of the membership says that the movement against corruption is turning into a movement for a changed India and it is gaining an energy. But without a strong leadership like those of Gandhis and Nehrus at the helm, can the AAP utilise the raw energy?

More than josh, the AAP leaders need to have a settled mind now

The AAP's current leadership, to say in brief, has miles to go to make a mark. One gets the feeling that the AAP leaders, buoyed by the Delhi assembly results, are acting more out of a josh at the moment. Take for instance, the remarks of leaders like Prashant Bhushan (Kashmir, Naxalites) and Kumar Vishwas (religious sentiments, Rahul Gandhi) or action of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (chaotic Janata Darbaars). They reveal that the party has an identity problem and it is not sure about how to go about it. The focus, it seems, is how to just go on capturing the headlines everyday by saying or doing something unique. The high-powered focus light of the media doesn't create political reality. It can only reflect on the dust that settles on that grim reality.

What the AAP needs today is political experimentation of the Mahatma

From a movement against corruption to a party against the Congress, the AAP has shown a predictable and limited transformation so far. To broaden its mass base on ideological terms, the party needs to work much more on its organisational skills and that can be best served by a versatile leadership. Even the great Mahatma had to wage a long political struggle during which he experimented with mass activism through various movements and that's why he was taller than any other leader in the movement called Congress.

The AAP can't take its support for granted

In today's movement for a better India, veteran Gandhian Anna Hazare could have played a similar role but his unfortunate break-up with Kejriwal ruined the possibility. It is impossible for Kejriwal to lead a national campaign because he is already into administration and the AAP can not hope to take the rising membership for granted. There is an election craze at this moment and it won't last forever. The AAP's existing political capital of anti-Congressism will evaporate as soon as the Congress is voted out of power and taking on Narendra Modi in case he ascends the throne in Delhi in another five months won't be an easy continuation.

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