Mango people's anger

Mango people's anger

Mango people's anger

Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party experiment has galvanised the youth to get actively involved in politics like never before.

The five state Assemblies which went to polls over the last seven weeks and whose results will be known on Sunday, are by no means a representative sample of the general elections due in about five months, but the mood and the trends of likely outcome suggest that the 2014 Lok Sabha polls will be most interesting and anything but predictable.

Exit polls have shown that the BJP will be able to retain Madhya Pradesh and wrest Rajasthan back from the hands of the Congress quite comfortably. Retaining Chhattisgarh for the third consecutive term is also not out of its reach. Two of the four exit polls also give the BJP a chance to return to power in Delhi after a lapse of 15 years, while Mizoram may see a hung Assembly, with the ruling Congress jockeying for power with the regional parties.

These five states account for only 72 Lok Sabha seats out of 543 and the issues that the people vote on during Assembly elections are quite different from the parliamentary elections. But considering that the two major political parties, the BJP and the Congress have virtually treated these polls as a trailer to the ‘mega final’ and the nation’s attention is also riveted on the Lok Sabha elections, the trends available now cannot be seen in isolation.

If the exit polls are proved right and the Congress does as badly as predicted, the Sonia Gandhi-led party will hit the panic button, especially since its principal rival, the BJP is making most of the gains and performing far better than expected. The Congress was hoping to retain Rajasthan on the strength of solid performance of the Ashok Gehlot government and was also hoping that anti-incumbency will work against Shivraj Singh Chauhan, who has already completed two terms in Madhya Pradesh. Even Sheila Dikshit’s rivals concede that she has changed the face of Delhi over the last decade, but if her party gets dethroned, it will be an indication of the level of anti-Congressism gripping the national capital and a clear reason for worry for the Congress.

On the other hand, even with the likelihood of three states in its bag, the BJP cannot afford to sit smug as the Delhi polls seem to indicate that if there is a strong and credible alternative – the Aam Aadmi Party, in this case – the people are ready to ditch both the national parties.

If  available trends are true, the fledgling AAP would have shown that the people are thirsting for clean politics and candidates who can take a high moral ground. Every seat that AAP wins will be a slap on the process of selections based on caste, money, muscle and criminal power that established parties rely on for winning elections. It may be difficult to replicate AAP’s success in the Lok Sabha elections, whose seats are much larger, but AAP or its clones in other parts of the country are bound give the jitters to all entrenched political brokers/parties.

Cut-throat politics

The Anna Hazare movement demanding the constitution of Lokpal should be given credit for the rise of Aam Aadmi Party, though strangely, Hazare himself has been critical of it. When Anna’s lieutenant Arvind Kejriwal went ahead with the formation of the party, very few people gave him any chance of succeeding in the cut-throat politics. But in about a year, with very limited resources at his command, he has been able to transform AAP into a formidable force capable of taking on two national parties and giving the people of Delhi an opportunity to choose an alternative that did not exist earlier. More significantly, Kejriwal’s experiment has galvanised the youth, including the yeppie generation settled abroad, to get actively involved in politics like never before.

What Kejriwal has done is to provide a channel to vent the anger and frustration of the ‘Mango People’ (Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra’s infamous description of the Aam Aadmi) about the corrupt and insensitive political system and direct it towards constructive action. An extremely heartening record turnouts in all the states that went to the polls indicate that there is a new awakening and the coming Lok Sabha elections could herald a more transparent and transformative politics in the country.

BJP under Narendra Modi may have stolen a march over the Congress in the run-up to the parliamentary elections, but the outcome is far from settled. Modi with his vituperative style of campaigning may have captured the imagination of sections of people, but can he or his party offer a government radically different from that of the Congress-led UPA dispensation? He has so far spent most of his energies on abusing the Congress and its leaders, but has given little indication of an alternative agenda that can change the face of the nation. He has not talked about the poor, the dalits, the minorities, the farmers, the working class and so forth. If Manmohanomics has failed, what is Modi’s alternative vision?

The emergence of Aam Aadmi Party should sound a warning bell to not only the Congress and the BJP, but also all the regional satraps like Mulayam Singh Yadav, Jayalalitha, Mayawati, Mamata Bannerjee, Naveen Patnaik, Prakash Karat, Sitaram Yechuri et al who are dreaming of coming to power at the Centre. Unlike in the past, selection of right candidates to stand for elections will be crucial and the people may no longer blindly accept criminals, moneybags, feudal lords or caste henchmen as their representatives.
The Mango People are ready to strike through the ballot boxes. Political leaders who recognise the winds of change will succeed and those who don’t, will fall by the wayside.

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