'The dream, the idea, the project called AAP is dead'

'The dream, the idea, the project called AAP is dead'

'The dream, the idea, the project called AAP is dead'

A proponent of alternative politics, Yogendra Yadav well known psephologist and professor of political science joined the anti-corruption movement spearheaded by Anna Hazare in 2011 that led to the formation of the AAP.

He was expelled from AAP after the party swept the 2015 Delhi assembly elections following differences with Arvind Kejriwal. Yadav, who launched his own political outfit Swaraj India, speaks about AAP, an experiment that went wrong with DH's Sagar Kulkarni. Excerpts.

Q: What is your assessment of the MCD elections, the results?

Yogendra Yadav: The results of the MCD polls were not unexpected, though they were intriguing. They were not unexpected because anyone who walked on the streets of Delhi, anyone who did public opinion polling knew that BJP was ahead. This city has witnessed the Chikungunya-Dengue epidemic, there has been strike by safai karmacharis leading to piles of garbage, we have witnessed episodes of extremely high air pollution and for that city for the ruling party to come back is an extraordinary, unusual, intriguing verdict.

Q: Why did Delhiites vote for the BJP despite 10 years of misgovernance?

Yogendra Yadav: What explains this is something very simple. People were not really voting on municipal issues at all. The BJP wanted it not to be a verdict on municipal issues. And AAP also wanted to focus on the personality contest. So, this election became an election of the Chief Minister versus the Prime Minister. People’s sense of the dissatisfaction with the MCD was overtaken by their disillusionment or disgust of the manner in which the AAP governed. The PM’s popularity helped the BJP, of course that was not the only reason. The difference between February 2015 and April 2017 is, earlier it was the PM versus the promise of AAP, now it is the PM versus the reality of AAP. The people of Delhi are saying they don’t quite approve of the experience. It is not a vote not so much for the BJP, it is a decisive vote against the AAP government.

Q: Where did AAP go wrong?

Yogendra Yadav: To my mind the problem does not lie in any small tactics or campaign strategy. This is much more fundamental. If you suffer an innings defeat the answer cannot be the one catch that was missed. I think it is an overall, complete betrayal of the promise the AAP held to the people of Delhi. AAP was a combination of three promises – the promise of ethical politics, the promise of good governance and the promise of electoral viability. The promise of ethical politics was given a boot at least two years ago when the party decided to show the Lokpal of the party the door. The second promise of good governance has been derailed for quite sometime, because the party does not seem to understand the elementary grammar of governance. It seeks to replace governance with pure publicity and theatrics. Only thing the AAP was left with for the last six months was electoral viability – that it was the party that can take on Mr Modi and no one else can. That was severely dented in Punjab and finally brought to an end in Delhi.

Q: Is it the end of AAP?

Yogendra Yadav: To my mind, it is the beginning of the end of the phenomenon of AAP. The legal entity remains. Nothing dies in this country. Stalinist parties don’t die. Nothing dies. But the dream, the idea, the project called AAP is dead.

Q: Given the churning happening within the AAP, do you think Kejriwal can change his style of functioning?

Yogendra Yadav: Well, it is a sinking ship. Obviously, people try and jump that. We are witnessing that. I am no expert on Kejriwal’s inner world to be able to answer whether he can, but the beginning of change could be to stop living in denial. First accept that the people of Delhi have voted, not the EVMs and the person responsible for that is not some flunkey assigned the responsibility but the supremo himself.
Q: You always believed in alternative politics. What is its future?

Yogendra Yadav: My experiments with alternative politics date back to 30 years. I clearly did not begin thinking about alternative politics with AAP. It was one more experiment which happened to have clicked, which happened to have been popular and people associate me with it. But I do have one fear. And the fear is because this one experiment called AAP became the most well known experiment, the manner in which a coterie has brought this experiment down is likely to affect the prospects of everyone else as well. In some way, AAP has made the task of alternative politics doubly difficult.

Q: Can the situation be salvaged?

Yogendra Yadav: In principle, you cannot rule out anything in politics, but salvaging would require more than just smartness. It would require coming clean. And as I said, I am not their political adviser.

Q: Any chances of those who left AAP or were thrown out to return to salvage the situation?

Yogendra Yadav:  We are steadfast on the path we set out at the Ram Lila Maidan. There is no possibility of us wanting to leave those principles. Please do remember that we could have easily stayed back in AAP. We just had to keep our mouths shut. We just had to accept what was going on in the party. If we did not agree to doing so then at the peak of their power, would it not be strange for us to accept those terms now?

Q: What are your views on the EVM controversy?

Yogendra Yadav: If the question is are EVMs tamperproof? Then the answer is they are not. If the question is therefore are the EVMs tampered with? Then the answer is it is next to impossible to actually do it in practice. If the question is did it actually happen in MCD elections? Then the answer is it is stupid to even think so. And I think so because, I was traveling in Delhi and someone who is a known political critic of the BJP and someone who is fighting elections mainly on the plank that BJP-led MCD is a corrupt and inefficient government, I could see that this message was not going through.
The people’s anger against the AAP was drowning our campaign. One has to really be disconnected with reality to imagine that the MCD result was produced by EVM tampering.
And if so, what is the AAP going to do with those 48 councillors who have won the elections. Why are they not withdrawing them. And if it is the EVM that has defeated them, then why is the poor Delhi convenor of the AAP asked to resign. They should ask for the resignation of the Election Commission. It is so incoherent. As they say in Sanskrit, ‘Vinaash kale viparit buddhi’.