AAP PARADOX WHOLE IS LESS THE SUM OF PARTS
THE AAP IS BOTH IMAGINATION AND IMAGINARY. IT IS AN EMPIRICAL ORGANISATION, A MOVEMENT STILL GRADUATING INTO A PARTY BUT THE AAP IS PART A POLITICAL FICTION, A WISH LIST FOR THE FUTURE THAT ITS FANS, FOLLOWERS AND MEMBERS KEEP PROJECTING ON TO IT. IT IS A
Ohysterical of differences. But such quarrels should now be seen as an initiation process, the noise of adjustment of a party settling down. The AAP has to realise that the demands people make on it will be more. Each leader has to now rise above himself. Each has lapsed into pettiness but one senses it is time for the AAP to surprise us once again with delivery. Mr Kejriwal has to provide some naturopathic healing to the party so that the side-effects of politics can no longer affect it. AAP is too big a legacy to squander. In this lies its future and the sustainability of its democratic imagination.
For this, the effervescence that AAP showed has to be a blend with a realism of style. The touch of narcissism and piety has to fade and AAP has to realize India’s problems are bigger than a dozen AAPs. A sense of modesty will restore an ethics of scale, an urgency of delivery to it. urban model for Delhi and commission civil society groups to evaluate its governance efforts in terms of human development indices. Its socialism, its sense of caring for the city and the margins, must appear in its governance strategies. This pack of socialists, Gandhians and activists has to be a school of decentralised but deliverable governance. The slapstick politics of recent times marked by journalistic ire and socialist piety is no longer relevant. Adolescence as a rhetorical style can be associated with protest but governance and the deliverables of governance need a sense of realism and maturity.
AAP suffers from what systems theorists would call a part-whole problem. Arvind and Sisodia; Yadav and Bhushan; its younger idealists; its older activists are all outstanding. But the paradox of the AAP is that whole is less the sum of the parts. Media gets excitable with the rifts in the AAP. Of course one must add, the leadership is even more ne of the strange paradoxes of the AAP is that its fans and loyalists, even its former members have an acute but still idealistic idea of the AAP, while its leaders verge on the banal and the petty. To talk of the future of the AAP is to talk at two levels, of the AAP as practice and of the AAP as possibility. Oddly, with the AAP, such a discussion is still not a split level one.
Studying the AAP often reminds one of the distinction made by the political philosopher Cornelius Castoriadis. He talked of the distinction between the imagination and the imaginary.
The imagination is a thought system which stretches or extrapolates but still works with current categories. The imaginary deals with future possibilities, with ideals that could be played out. The AAP is both imagination and imaginary. It is an empirical organisation, a movement still graduating into a party but the AAP is part a political fiction, a wish list for the future that its fans, followers and members keep projecting on to it. It is a perpetual hypothesis playing out both fact and future.
The AAP is still in a constant state invention; it is a promise that, right now, is a local collection of possibilities. The AAP, as a past of ideas, is crucial. Deeply it borrows a lot from the socialism of Lohia and it also has shades of the JP movement. More of it absorbs ideas from the social movements, the nonparty political process, and the civil society attempts to redefine the public space. It combines socialism, Human Rights, civil society to create a new party politics. It has or projects a sense of the future through a sense of the IT mentality.
This includes an impatience with the slowness of politics, a sense of speed in problem solving, a feeling that the public also needs the idea of a non-hierarchical network. So call it a formula of socialism+ Gandhian non-violence+ an IT framework where professionals transplant skills and expectations from other fields on to politics.
Yet when this heady blend has to be domesticated within the confines of a party within, the whole idea of problem solving, the Kejriwal style is up for scrutiny. To critique and protest is one thing. To govern and deliver without losing its everyday touch with the people is another. As a wag put it, the AAP faces an obstetric problem, as a midwife of a new politics it has to deliver. Mr Kejriwal and gang has to add the governance halo to their disorderly political style.
There is a power to the AAP even in its disorder. At one level, the AAP realises the uses of disorder, the need to be open and alive to differences. At another level, it has to stabilise locally to deliver according to a rough timetable. It reminds one of the old tired joke, socialists can never make a revolution. They can never work to time.
The AAP has to realise its sociological limits. It is still urban. It appeals to the dalits, the migrants, the urban underclass and the intelligentsia. These people want to use politics to make the city work. These citizens conceive of a city with a minimum infrastructure, an ecology of services around electricity, water access to health, education, a sense of citizenship, which minimises the alienation of a city.
Given all this, the current battles within the AAP are a bit difficult to sympathise with. The anarchy is in the diversity of its membership. But that anarchy has to be a celebration of unity and difference. Yet after the Delhi election, the AAP top brass behaves like a collection of party whips, each in search of his own version of the party. Each pretends that he is Jesus and the rest are a pack of Judases. While Mr Kejriwal plays Jesus undergoing a naturopathy course, his partymen carry out sting operations against each other. What one wants to ask is, where is the sense of teamwork and delivery? Election time is over and one cannot keep waiting for a string of critiques.
Mr Kejriwal has to show leadership, to carry his group now, not with the excitement of elections but the commitment to governance. The AAP has to change from a cabal of protesters and a clique of conspirers to a unified team of problem solvers. The timetable and the tactics need to be spelt out. The AAP needs to outline the