Referendum in J&K: Politics isn't a child's play, Mr Prashant Bhushan

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Is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) losing direction? The opinion of the senior leader of the party, Prashant Bhushan, that a referendum should be carried out in Jammu and Kashmir to decide on the army's deployment to deal with security threats in the Valley has led to a massive controversy with the BJP hitting out at the young party which recently formed a government in Delhi with the Congress's backing.

AAP leaders, including Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, were rattled by the strong reaction against Bhushan's boldness and there was an urgency in the party ranks to defend themselves. "AAP is for a united India" and "Bhushan's views are its own" were the common reaction from the AAP.

This is perhaps the first political challenge that the AAP has faced after it expressed a desire to go national and it surely has tasted the hardness of realpolitik. Can it take a bit more time to explore untasted waters and not make it look like a fool by passing 'look-easy' judgments on issues that are not that simple?

This is the problem when an 'apolitical' party like the AAP tries to act like a 'political' outfit. Winning elections with the backing of the popular sentiment is something basic and the AAP has mastered the basics perfectly well. But going deeper into politics is a far far difficult ball-game and the latest controversy surrounding the AAP has proved it.

One gets a feeling that the AAP is trying too many things at the same time. It has just formed a government in Delhi and has a big challenge before it to meet the promises that it has made to the people of the capital. Statecraft is not a simple task and certainly not for a minority government. But the AAP, perhaps overexcited by the media's push, decided to go national soon after taking the office in Delhi and one of its senior leader created the controversy, enough to distract it from its focus in Delhi. Is this how a party goes national? AAP is only going viral through such unnecessary controversy, not national.

Going national doesn't mean passing easy judgments on difficult issues

What Bhushan said on Kashmir is also felt by many aam aadmi in India. They feel for the Kashmiris on humanitarian grounds and are of the opinion that army's presence somehow put a psychological hindrance on the state's integration with the nation. But these soft feelings have little relevance in the ruthless world of the realpolitik. Bhushan's idea may find a silent and moral support from many but the truth is that politics is largely an irreversible phenomenon. Not many things can be undone, at least over a considerable period of time.

So what was the need for Bhushan to create such controversy when he is mature enough to understand that such things won't happen in reality? It was actually an unwise attempt to go national by the leader. But issuing statements doesn't make a party or leader national. If the AAP really has to go national, then it must work on its organisation and horizontal reach and not try to match the bigger parties only in terms of 'tall talks from the top'. It is not without a reason that Kejriwal didn't float an idea of another SMS poll on Kashmir referendum for he knows how much risky such an act could be.

By creating the controversy in Jammu and Kashmir referendum, the AAP has actually gifted an opportunity to the BJP, which is eager to take a revenge after losing out from getting the power in Delhi. What was the point in giving an opportunity to the BJP to give a push to its nationalist drive? The AAP leaders must give it a thought.

The AAP is a political party with an 'L' tag and it certainly needs some time to understand the intricacies of the statecraft. However, saying that, shouldn't it understand the complicated issues first and then make a judgment? Governance can be populist but statecraft can't be. Politics has a definite language of its own which the Aam Aadmi can't understand. Herein lies the AAP's biggest challenge.

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