Breaking Views

AAP should split, save us the TV soap opera

Arvind Kejriwal's party is the one "with difference" because no other political party would probably have its members "stinging" each other.

 |  Breaking Views  |  3-minute read |   31-03-2015
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Which side are you on, a Twitter follower asked me last Friday as the battle in the Aam Aadmi Party gets increasingly messy. I tried to explain that as a journalist the only "side" I was on was the truth, but I could understand just why it wouldn't be so easy to convince the sceptics. After all, Yogendra Yadav and I have worked together for years in a jugalbandi on television during elections. Our relationship had been built on mutual respect and a shared passion for political analysis. Similarly, as editor in chief at the IBN 18 network, I had also worked closely with Ashutosh when he was managing editor of IBN 7. That both of them subsequently joined the AAP is a coincidence which has little to do with me but with their own personal choices; that now both of them represent opposite sides in the AAP battle is no coincidence but the result of how politics can so easily divide and destroy the mind of fine individuals.

My role has been that of the professional observer. And as an observer I must confess to being initially amused, now a little appalled, at the manner in which the AAP is squandering the goodwill it has built by this most public display of its internal strife. The AAP leaders never tire of telling you how the party is different, how it represents the idealistic dreams of its volunteers, how it has genuine internal democracy. Yes, the AAP did hold the promise of challenging the established political order and it's rise has been truly spectacular but the last six weeks have reduced the claim to being a "party with a difference" to a cruel joke. Yes, the AAP is a party with a difference because no other political party would probably have its members "stinging" each other and then happily providing the video/audio footage to a ravenous media. Frankly, the latest audio "sting" of Arvind Kejriwal only reveals just how deep the trust deficit within the party leaders truly is. In a sense, it is perhaps best that the AAP splits so that we can be spared of what has become a daily soap opera (rather male-dominated, I might add).

In the end, the AAP's future will not be judged by its faction fights. All our political parties are cursed with a high command culture and an absence of internal democracy. A BJP under Narendra Modi, a Congress under the Gandhi family, regional parties run by the likes of a Lalu or a Jaya are all symbols of an autocratic political system which has no space for dissent or alternative viewpoints. The AAP's success or failure will be eventually decided by whether it provides Delhi with a decent model of governance in the next five years. The war within has given us enough masala on TV news, partly a function of the fact that Delhi is the base of most "national" news channels. Once the cameras are switched off and move onto the next story, Kejriwal and team will be judged by their ability to make less noise and, hopefully, provide better governance. Or is that too much to ask of a political party which seems to be in permanent embrace with the TV camera?

PS: Another canard spread has been that I was once offered an AAP ticket and I almost took it. The fact is, and I have always said this: One should join public life only when one has nothing to take, and everything to give back to society. I am a long way away from that stage in life so a political career has not been contemplated. Besides, politics needs a thick skin: So much easier to witness the abuse and allegations than be part of it!


Rajdeep Sardesai Rajdeep Sardesai @sardesairajdeep

Journalist, author: 2014: The Election That Changed India. When not chained to the news, watch sport, read, write, sleep and enjoy family holidays.

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