Crisis in AAP: 5 questions Kumar Vishwas must answer before claiming moral high ground

Is he not reaping what he sowed?

 |  7-minute read |   03-05-2017
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Trouble and AAP are never far apart. Or, so it seems as the AAP plunges into another crisis with Kumar Vishwas, one of its tallest leaders and member of its highest decision-making body, PAC, raising the banner of revolt against the top leadership.

What began as an indirect attack on the AAP leadership through a much-shared video — in which Kumar claimed to air the questions that people needed answers to — has swiftly turned into a full-blown crisis, with AAP MLA Amanatullah Khan accusing Kumar of working at the behest of the RSS-BJP.

Khan apparently has the support of AAP's top leadership, as the demand for his expulsion from party by Kumar's faction has been cold-shouldered.

Amid this high-drama, Kejriwal's closest ally and Delhi's deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia (who is also a childhood friend of Kumar Vishwas) has publicly hit out at Kumar and asked him not to discuss the internal affairs of the party in public.

Yet Kumar Vishwas seems to be unwavering in his defiance as he claims to be the voice of those party members who are disappointed with the AAP. He has tried to claim the moral high ground in the AAP's rift, but if he is sincere about it, here are five questions that he needs to answer:

1) How is his right to speak his mind more sacred than others?

Kumar is repeatedly asserting that he will continue speaking publicly what he feels is right, even when the party urged restraint in public articulation of the differences. He feels it is important for the party to be on the right track. Also, it is his moral duty to speak the truth.

But then why did Kumar oppose similar rights for other members of the party?

If he should not suffer any consequence for speaking his mind, then why is his faction demanding that his rival Amanatullah Khan be ousted from the party. Like Kumar, Khan too has only aired his view, which he feels are in party's interest.

So, why should the freedom to air one's views be restricted only to Kumar? Does Kumar not come across as a hypocrite and opportunistic in his demand for this right when he targeted Prahsant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav and many other AAP dissidents who have been eased out of the party in the past few years. Then Kumar, as party spokesperson, preached about the virtue of party discipline. But now he suddenly wants a more democratic alternative for party leaders to freely air their views outside the party after he systematically helped eliminate that democratic space. How convenient!

2) Is he not reaping what he sowed?

When Kumar went against Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, his main ground was that they were working against the pary's interest and playing to the rivals' advantage by hatching a plot to replace the AAP's top leadership.

In any democratic party, the concentration of power in any individual is an anathema. Yet Kumar led the brigade that defended this concentration of power in the AAP in its convener. He also, as the party's leading public face in running down Yadav and Bhushan, participated in establishing the "norm" within AAP where any challenge to its supremo's position was seen as illegitimate action driven by a person's greed and selffish motive.

That was a time when Kumar, assured of being in the inner circle of the AAP supremo, stood to benefit from the undemocratic empowerment of its supremo at the cost of others in the party. But today, when he seems to be no longer in the good books of Kejriwal, Vishwas, must ask himself is he not reaping what he sowed?

3) Is politics merely a medium of self-promotion for him?

Kumar's attempt, to ride the wave of discontent among many of AAP's volunteers (in light of party's below expectations performance in Punjab and MCD election), is being seen by some as mere opportunistic fishing in troubled waters as he has been missing in action when the party was facing its most crucial battles.

Kumar was conspicuous by his absence in both these critical electoral battles. If Kumar was truly committed to politics and the AAP, he would have woken up earlier.

Also, when Kumar try to take the moral high ground against his "rivals", it's hard to miss how he is on and off politics as his heart seems to be more in minting money to sustain his expensive lifestyle. He is unabashedly extravagant. It doesn't escape the notice of people what media limelight on Kumar's political life brings to him — how he has been encashing it.

In comparison, most of the political volunteers and leaders (especially the self-made ones), at least spend years in public service before they aspire for some great office. Even Kejriwal, is in public service for years now and he, like most top leaders, give their head and heart to politics.

So, Kumar needs to answer how can he claim to belong to the masses when he doesn't even have that absolute commitment to political life — and not to live a life of extraordinary comfort, which betrays a certain lack of compassion and sensitivity to those unlucky in ovarian lottery.

4) If his accusations of AAP's failure are correct, does he not share the blame?

If his accusations of failure to tackle corruption and moral turpitude is correct, does he not share the responsibilty, or is he merely using it to further his personal ambitions.

In the now famous video, that was the immediate trigger of this crisis, Kumar has implied that the AAP leadership failed in firmly tackling corruption charges against the members of the party and the government.

If this is indeed true, then how can he escape responsibility? Why did he stay silent when such things happened? Why did he not use the might of his post to ensure that the AAP didn't deviate from its principles?

And if its not true, then the less said the better.

kejriwal_050317014242.jpgHe has had been the quintessential insider of AAP.

In either case, Kumar Vishwas seems to be attempting to score brownie points by manipulating people, by selling himself as an outsider to the party's system, even though he has had been the quintessential insider.

5) Is Kumar's pop nationalistic, self-righteous rhetoric not similar to that of the RSS?

Kumar has positioned himself as the voice of the people, especially on the issue of nationalism, on the threat from Pakistan and issues of corruption. He has tried to make a self-righteous appeal to garner supporters. And one must grant that Vishwas has a way with words. He has a good grasp on poetry, which he uses in different political situations, besides skillfully deploying incisive arguments.

But Kumar's nationalistic arguments (like his vilification of Pakistan), militarism (glorification of army and opposition to making armed forces accountable), demand for taking excessive pride in one's nation, belief in exclusivity of one's own nation, contempt for human rights, et al, are so eerily similar to the RSS worldview.

In effect, what Kumar Vishwas is demanding in the guise of his volunteers' demand, is to turn the AAP into another BJP, at least in its world view.

This runs quite contrary to the the space the AAP currently occupies — the left of centre. Also, if the AAP really turns itself into what Kumar is demanding, it would kill all chances of the AAP filling the void of a true liberal alternative in India.

So, he needs to do better than merely getting Amanatullah Khan shot down through his acolytes. He should rather come out clean on how his vision is actually different from that of the RSS, whose agent he has been accused of being.

Also read: 6 reasons Delhi dumped Aam Aadmi Party in MCD election

Writer

Apoorva Pathak Apoorva Pathak

The author is alumni, IIT Roorkee and writes on politics, economy, policy.

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