AAP faces a daunting test

Less than a month after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won a jaw-dropping victory in the Delhi Assembly elections, the party finds itself in a crisis of its own making. Instead of setting about trying to fulfill the myriad promises made to the electorate during poll campaigning, the AAP is in the throes of a power struggle with at least two founding members challenging the domination of the party’s national convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. It is unfortunate that the AAP, which had touched a chord in people’s imagination of a new kind of politics, is now regressing into the kind of internecine battles one is used to witnessing in traditional political parties. 

The dissenting founding members – Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan – have indicated that all this is part of internal democracy. But, party supporters would find it difficult to swallow the reasoning wholesale. For, the manner in which the issue of Kejriwal’s supposed dictatorial functioning has been brought to light has been in the form of leaks to the media rather than an upfront challenge within the party forum. Now that the feelings of the dissenting duo is out in the open, the entailing bad blood this has caused will be hard to neutralise. The emergency national executive meet of the AAP on Wednesday has an unenviable task. Not only is there a serious misunderstanding that needs to be untangled, it also needs to be done tactfully as the party is still in its infancy and any goof-up is bound to have adverse repercussions.  

The national executive must view the concerns raised by a section of its founders in a positive light. The issue of transparency in financial matters and a genuinely democratic leadership structure are new to Indian politics and it would not be in the interests of the pro-Kejriwal faction to brush them aside. The AAP national executive must address these concerns with sensitivity and attempt to carry with it all sections while doing so. For, the AAP is a new and exciting experiment in the country’s political arena which has received a thumping go-ahead from Delhi’s electorate. It would not be in anyone’s interest, least of all the AAP’s, to squander the opportunity and fall prey to petty opportunism and short-sighted gains. The AAP leadership would be doing an unprecedented service if it were to take on the challenge head-on and emerge stronger and more stable. In the process, it would show the people that the AAP is not like other parties and that it is capable of completing its term in office and fulfilling its promises. 

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