Why Kejriwal And AAP Cannot Be Allowed To Fail

Make no mistake, at its core-shorn of the gift wrapping of the manifestos - ALL political parties in India are the same in their essence, in their lack of the values and virtues that make successful civilisations. Except One

So now the din and the dust of electioneering is beginning to settle and the bookies, who usually get their numbers more right than the Planning Commission, the RBI, the TV channels and the psephologists combined, are predicting a win for the BJP and Narender Modi.

This is indeed the right direction for the country to go as the Congress stands totally discredited, the regional parties have no national vision and are more fractious than a bunch of Kilkenny cats, and the Aam Aadmi Party has yet to develop a national presence or profile.

The country desperately needs a strong, assertive leader with a clear agenda, an able administrator who will focus on implementation of policies rather than on ” manufacturing consent” as Chomsky terms it.Modi

Mr. Modi’s utterances over the past few months, read with the BJP manifesto released yesterday, have spelt out quite clearly their views on reviving the economy, the new direction to be given to our foreign policy, the ramping up of our defence preparedness, the prescription to improve centre-state relations, and the consultation process to be followed on more contentious issues such as Article 370, the Uniform Civil Code and the Ram Mandir.

Its a clear road map, the experience, will and ability to follow it is there and I have no doubt that Mr. Modi will do a much better job in five years than the Congress has managed in the last ten.
But is that enough?

In pure materialistic or IMF terms, India has already been where Mr. Modi and his BJP now propose to take us. In the period 2001 to 2009 we were, in sheer economic terms, among the fastest growing countries in the world, foreign investment was coming in a flood, millions of jobs were being created, 240 million people were lifted above the poverty line, social welfare schemes like NREGA, Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan and the Rural Health Mission were changing the rural landscape, and our international stock had never been higher.

And yet, within five years, we have slipped back down the ladder to such an extent that even Bangladesh, Srilanka and Nepal now compare more favourably on most parameters. Economically we are now a country where industry prefers to take its moneys abroad, where we have actually LOST six million jobs, industrial growth is negative. Socially, we are a mess: we continue to slaughter each other at the altar of politics and religion, farmers are continuing to kill themselves by the thousands, women are getting raped by the tens of thousands. Practically all our institutions have collapsed-the judiciary, the police, all 36 of the sectoral Regulators, Parliament, the media-and those which have not collapsed have been so compromised that they have become, in Salman Khurshid’s now famous words, “impotent.”

Internationally, we are now fair game for any country to cock a snook at us, be it Italy, the USA, Sri Lanka or even the Maldives!

What went wrong?

Its simple, really. India lacks a moral underpinning. Our society lacks that honest and principled core, the nucleus of compassion, humaneness and tolerance around which ultimately all civilised societies are built-without it, all success is built on shifting sand. Any achievement, if it is founded solely on lust for power, avarice and gratification of the baser senses, will in time crumble. It happened to the UPA, it will happen to Narender Modi too for he and the BJP too lack that essential core.

Their (expected) path to power is littered with examples that prove my point: the hubris of the proclamation that the elections are irrelevant as the people have already decided, the corruption of Yedduyrappa and the Bellary brothers and a host of crooks inducted into the party, the generic hostility to Muslims, the rabid intolerance of a Muthalik or the Bajrang Dal, the silence on the Ambanis and the Adanis, the sheer opportunism of the “winnability” criteria over all other principles.

Make no mistake, at its core-shorn of the gift wrapping of the manifestos – ALL political parties in India are the same in their essence, in their lack of the values and virtues that make successful civilisations.



For all its faults – and just like a child, it has many – the perceived and proclaimed core of AAP is a compassionate and principled one. It is completely transparent about raising money, it has not given a ticket to a single known criminal, it has had the courage to field unknown people with proven track records of social service as its candidates rather than go by the winnability factor or star endorsements, it has never sought votes on the basis of caste or religion, it has had the fearlessness to ask questions no one in public life even dared to whisper, it is so far the only political party to have openly supported decriminalisation of homosexuality, its leaders demonstrate a simplicity of life style which is an essential corollary of honest values.

Arvind AAP

The people of India have noticed this and have sensed a welcome harbinger of change, just as a marooned sailor gets the first whiff of land far out to sea. They gave Kejriwal 28 seats and 30% vote share in the Delhi elections.

And then the criticisms and condemnation-skilfully orchestrated by the BJP and the Congress, past masters both at the Symphony of Deceit – started. I will not go into the merits of the various charges levelled against the AAP as I have addressed them in a couple of previous articles.

I would, however, like to list out the major charges so as to later put them into perspective:
  1. Holding a dharna against the central government.
  2. Somnath Bharti’s mid-night raid in Khirkee.
  3. The Law Minister calling a meeting of judicial officers.
  4. Kejriwal occupying a four room official bungalow.
  5. Kejriwal’s resignation after failing to get support for his Jan Lok Pal Bill.
To me, as an Indian sick of the cynicism and opportunism of all our figures in public life, these so called “charges” only reinforce my belief that here is a party which has the guts to be different, to break the twisted mould of traditional politics and fashion a new one “closer to the heart’s desire” as Omar Khayyam puts it so beautifully.
  • They reaffirm my faith that this party acts out of a moral conviction of what is right rather than what is expedient: when was the last time that a Chief Minister slept on a road in 4* celsius temperature?
  • Can you remember any Chief Minister who resigned because he lost a non- money Bill in the House?
  • Can you recollect even one Chief Minister who openly took on his own police? ( The invariable norm is for the two to have a sleeping partner relationship).
  • Can you remember any government challenging the Ambanis, or the Robert Vadras?
  • Are we really expected to take THESE charges seriously? Or should we be worrying about the thousands killed in communal riots presided over by both our major, and many of our minor parties?
  • Or about the lakhs of crores funnelled into Swiss bank accounts by leading lights of the present regime? Or about whose twenty thousand crores was Sahara playing around with?
  • Or about the 164 criminals in our Parliament, all blessed by their respective parties? Or about the nexus of Arun Jaitley and Rajiv Shukla with the BCCI?
  • Or about what Saint Anthony has done to our defense forces? Or the manner in which Mr. Patel has castrated Air India to benefit private air-lines?
  • Or about how the Delhi police collects Rupees five crores PER MONTH from just street vendors? Or about why two lakh cases are pending in our High Courts alone?

THESE are the charges and questions we want answered, not why Kejriwal moved from Kaushambi to Tilak Lane.

The Congress and BJP, abetted by sections of the media who do not see any ad revenues flowing to them from the AAP, have done their best (with some measure of success, I must admit) to give a spin to the whole matter and to convert Kejriwal’s strengths into his weaknesses!

And yes, Kejriwal and AAP have made mistakes. They should have been less strident, in some cases they should have collected more facts before making accusations, they should have curbed their ambition to go national so soon.

Perhaps Kejriwal should have been less impetuous in contesting against Modi in Varanasi. But these are errors of strategy, not substance or conduct or morals.
They pale into complete insignificance before the monumental malfeasance of the other parties, they can at worst destroy the party not the nation. And that for me is the difference, and the reason why we should not give up on the AAP now.

Kejriwal’s is the only party today which holds out the promise of returning us to our moral roots and the ideal of social equality. He will not win more than ten or fifteen seats given his organisational weakness.

But these seats HE MUST WIN. He MUST get ten to fifteen percent vote share in as many constituencies as he can.

These votes and these seats will then be the platform for him to exert his influence on the other parties, to act as some kind of conscience keeper, to convey to Parliament what the people actually desire, to set standards and benchmarks which other parties will have no option but to follow under public pressure.

If Kejriwal fails today we may as well give up hope of any substantial change in our moral compass for the next forty years. One analogous government will replace another, each leaving behind their slimy desiderata , covering, perhaps for ever, the soul of a nation that could have been great.
Join the Conversation


  1. says: Pankaj

    Long ago, after a change in government in Himachal Pradesh, I was asked by the then Speaker whether I could see a change from the previous government. I replied that in politics there was no black or white. All political parties represented different shades of grey, and that the new regime was a couple of shades lighter as compared to its predecessor …. a reply sportingly appreciated by the worthy Speaker.

    Kejriwal and his band represent perhaps the lightest shade of grey that I seen in the last fifty years – almost bordering on white – so far. As I said in an earlier post, AAP is still a babe in the woods, still floundering and falling on its face every now and then, but gutsily getting to its feet again and wobbling along. Give the fledgling its due …. they are showing courage and perseverance. I am sure, a couple of elections down the line AAP will have a sizeable presence in parliament and a substantive say in the country’s policies.

    But that will only happen if, as Avay says, Indian voters show their faith and give AAP at least 10-15% of the vote now. Keep up the good work AAP ….. I, for one, am certainly with you !

  2. says: sunil w

    Yes Sir
    I agree to all of your writing. And hope that every right thinking Indian would show there strength in this election. Every body realised that there is a need to repair our leadership issues.

  3. says: Indian

    I absolutely agree to Mr Shukla’s fears of having missed this opportunity, the country might need another four five decades to put up such an organisation. For the thinking types amongst us Indians, please don’t let this ‘opportunity’ waste.

  4. says: Murali Menon

    Greta article Avay. It reflects exactly what many of us want to say. I thank you for this very well written piece.

  5. says: Rahul Beniwal

    I don’t think they should’ve curbed their ambition to go national so soon. Honestly, they were living on borrowed time in Delhi. If they hadn’t gone national, then I’m pretty sure the Congress and BJP would’ve pulled the chair out from under them post the general elections, leaving them no where. Strike while the iron’s hot is what I feel their mentality was and it’s worked. The national PM debate only features three names Modi aka BJP, Rahul Gandhi(if he’s ever made PM, I will migrate) and Arvind Kejriwal. Basically, in doing so, AAP has ensured that they can’t be swept under a rug or ignored.

  6. says: Arvind

    You are right, but as the situation stands today, everybody in all political parties and media are after AAP lock, stock and barrel. The media, which once supported AAP is against for reasons well known. It is often giving incomplete picture of events. A case in point is the case of Bharati. The whole of media nearly never highlighted the point that there is section 42 of Narcotic act, 1985, which authorizes police to raid a premise without search warrant on information or a complaint. Bharati and residents of the area had exactly made the complaint of drugs trade going on. Again nearly the whole media wrongly reported that Bharati entered some premises, In fact he never entered and his entry was not proved as live recording by media was going on that time . Also urine samples of African ladies were taken on the road as per a big section of media. In fact, the samples were taken at AIIMS. The media never reported that thirteen bills, including finance bills were passed by Sheila Dikshit government without referring them to centre, with BJP not murmuring a word. But Lokpal bill was blocked on the excuse that it was illegal to introduce a bill without prior approval from centre. One can just go on looking and find numerous examples of how a big section of media cheated the people by wrong and incomplete reporting.

  7. India is amazing! Even when global pressure is there and we are on track to become MARKET, there is a ray of hope and hope for those who are never heard (common people).

    And this might be just the last chance!

    Hope things work in coming 5 years and if not then one of the largest democracy on this planet would face a herculean force of 1 billion common people forcing a revolt or chaos….even the thought seems scary…..

  8. says: Sujata Pandey

    Agree with you Avay, although I am still confused about AAP, but I do hope they are there in the opposition to keep checks and balances or else we will have the same results as before.

  9. says: Kanishk

    I think AAP should have stuck to govern delhi n slowly build credibility. It takes years to build Political influence in a region.AAP came out of india against corruption movement which started in 2010. IAC n its protest was confined to delhi. Most of the supporters were also from delhi/ncr. So it wont b wrong to say that AAP is a delhi based party as large number f supporters r from delhi. This support base came after field work from IAC movement and to some extent from kejriwal’s work in RTI movement n his work in his NGO parivartan when he was in revenue services.
    N u just cannot build a national presence in 3 months after resignation.They should not have gone for lok sabha election so soon.
    For a moment lets say that AAP wins 40-50 seats(this is way too optimistic by the way) in lok sabha. Then what?
    You say congress is corrupt n so is bjp.
    So whst should AAP do? Support 3rd front like SP BSP AIADMK BJD TMC?A front where every1 wants to b a pm or have some portfolio
    Do u want some1 like mulayam singh yadav as ur defence/home minister? Just like in 1996-97?
    Now people will say that aap’s presence will help in cutting down corruption but such presence wont led to governance either
    They will always remain agitators n ready to resign at a drop of a hat. Then there will b re-elections n conducting elections is a humongous costly thing
    Being honest n having good intention is a good start for clean politics. But r these the only credentials for governance?
    Imaandaari jaroori hai
    Par imaandaari k saath samajhdari na ho to wo imaandaari nahi bewkoofi hai
    I supported AAP in delhi n believe they should have stuck to govern delhi n set n example. Now aap supporters say that bjp congress never allowed them to work. You had other issues in ur manifesto n should hv worked on those. N there’s no shortage of issues. Whether its absentism of teachers in govt schools or donations in nursery admission or tanker mafia or loss of water during water supply from tankers.
    If congress had withdrawn support, it would have benefitted aap only.
    Making jan lokpal bill as holy grail of everything and thinking that it would end corruption once n for all is too naive. U can have a transparent system with existing laws also. Look at election commission of india which conducts the largest elections in world. People like T N Session empowered election commission like no other person. Or look at E shreedharan who executed projects like delhi metro n konkan railways without any corruption. The system,service n cleanliness of delhi metro is one of world’s best.All it needs is political will to do it.
    AAP had this chance in delhi n they have screwed it.-
    By quitting abruptly n going national aap is only showing its desperation.
    Good Governance n change cant happen in months. It takes years of work and effort

    1. says: Abhishek

      It is wrong to say that AAP is a delhi based party. Volunteers were/are from all over the country. How are they able to field candidates in 400+ seats otherwise. Just the act of going national has boosted the support base of the party. It will now emerge as a national party and work on the foundations. Regarding what can AAP do with just 40 seats, wait for the assembly sessions to start. When people like Kejriwal, Vishwas, Soni Sori, Medha Patkar get on the inside, they will shake the very foundations of the political class. Instead of Sibbal and Yedruappa, these are the people who will be on Parliamentary committees. Can’t wait for the cleansing to begin.

  10. says: Punam

    I wish I had seen this before today, but glad I saw it anyway as I was not thinking of vote share…I was thinking that I was voting for a candidate unlikely to win! Thanks !!

  11. says: Punam

    ( Moderator : This is a personal note for Mr Shukla : As a daughter of an honest 85 year old IAS man, I do appreciate the fact of a bureaucrat saying things that are important publicly, one has always wondered why the norms of bureaucracy sometimes shackle the soul of good people)

    1. says: Avay Shukla

      To answer your question, Punam, the fact is that a bureaucrat while in service is bound by his service rules that require him to be anonymous, not criticise the govt. publicly, to channelise his doubts and misgivings through departmental processes only. Unfortunately, after 35 years of observing these rules he becomes a prisoner of his own training and gets trapped in this framework. He gets conditioned to accept the status quo, to think in the groove fashioned by generations of his predecessors, to distrust any change. He has worn a mask for so long that it becomes a part of him. A bureaucrat essentially does not change even after retirement- ask any long suffering wife!

  12. says: Anil Agarwal

    I do wish that AAP succeeds or least get 10- 15 seats. This is to keep a check on these established parties.

  13. says: Davy Deswal

    Agreeing with one survey / quote by AAP candidate Feroz Palkhiwala ( North Central Mumbai) that AAP may get about 140 seats, I asked FP – which way AAP woul go, support BJP or Cong ? Answer was that same would be decided by the central leaders. As a supporte I want to know the answer in advance now in order to decide

    1. says: uni

      Why you should vote AAP even if it cannot win a majority and come into power at the center :
      If AAP gets a lot of votes and seats it will
      1. unseat many corrupt, communal, criminals & inject respectable people in parliament.
      2. courageously raise important issues in parliament and give issue based support.
      3. be designated as a national party, and can retain its election symbol for national use.
      4. will attract more good candidates and voters (who earlier never thought it had a chance).
      5. there will be a change in vote banks and more people and the media will openly support it.
      6. good support to AAP will encourage it to put up candidates for state and municipal elections.
      7. you will encourage good people, principles and policies.
      8. you will have a strong opposition (which other parties cannot give as they are hand in glove).
      9. you will start a process to clean up the system (cannot happen overnight – party is 17 months old).
      10. you will feel good for having done the right thing (and leave the rest to others).

  14. says: Swamiji Kapri

    As a wandering monk I can safely vouch that AAP would perform much better than projected in this objective piece. I give it 60 plus seats in this election and a replay of Delhi scenario at the Center. Just wait until May 16.
    AAP may have spread too thin. But that is what would prove to be the right strategy given the disinchentment of people with conventional political parties.
    AAP & AK you have nothing to loose, only to gain. Just go right ahead. Every patriotic Indian is with you.

  15. says: uni

    People will vote tactically based on the winability of candidates. This is a short term tactic that may sink the longer term (5 year) strategy. AAP is a tiny sapling of hope that needs nourishment or it will whither. Based on vote share in Delhi elections it has been recognised by Election Commission as a State Party. It needs at least 6% of the vote share in at least 4 states to be declared a National Party and retain its election symbol. Therefore every vote counts. Vote AAP irrespective of local issues.

  16. says: Ansumoy Pati

    The article is a wonderful expression of probably all incorruptible people in India. The article is an expression of all ‘hopeless’ Indians frightened into submission by a corrupt political system aided by an incompetent,corrupt and in most cases undeserving and unaccountable bureaucracy. Everyone is out to have a slice of the ‘loot’ through whatever means possible.
    Arvind has been asked innumerable questions. But I wonder why such uncomfortable questions are never asked to other Chief Ministers/politicians and a reply extracted about them directly instead of only digressions and falsehood?
    Yes,I agree that we should vote and send these patriotic ‘mad’ people to the legislatures to make a difference in these dying and failed institutions.
    They express the frustrations of the common Indian who has been trampled beyond death for selfish agendas for decades.
    I agree that for a Chief Minister to sleep on the road at 4* Celsius requires real guts and a clear determination – not mere ‘dramabazi’ !

  17. says: dinesh upadhyay

    I fully agree with avay shukla . One can not do much during the service and forced to toe the line. Kejriwal has done great service to Indians by raising the bench mark in politics. History will remember him for the good he has done . Dinesh upadhyay. Indian navy.

  18. says: Radheshyam Sharma

    Like all your earlier articles on AAP, I agree completely with in all except the number of seats you estimate – ten or fifteen. You are also being influenced by the media. You are not feeling the undercurrent which is palpable. I am of the opinion that AAP should get anything between 50 to 100 seats, becoming the third largest party in parliament.

  19. says: Nazeer

    The author is absolutely right. This is the first time I’m going to vote from my heart. Not for the lesser evil as we’d been doing all these frustrating years. Don’t vote tactically or with an eye on winnability. Just do the right thing.

  20. says: Krishna Prasad Yerramilli

    Agree with most of the points in support of AAP.

    To me, the most important outcome from AAP’s entry into politics, is the way it managed to bring out and give Voice and Opportunity to so many Well-Meaning, Well-Educated, Socially-conscious but Not-so-well-Connected and Not-so-well-Off individuals. This probably is the only Party that at least attempts to represent the India of 2014 – looking at the variety of backgrounds of its candidates.

    The second most important outcome from AAP’s entry is how it has influenced the other parties. The Congress, BJP or others may not change at the core – but they are at least forced to present a more cultured face when on a show.

    Even if AAP wins less than 10 seats, they may become the much needed moral force in our Parliament. Making sure our MPs waste less of our Parliament’s time, get more real and less rhetoric in discussions, and may be even motivate most of our silent /absent MP to ask useful questions that will help their constituencies — overall get Parliament to focus more on worthy business than mere posturing.

    AAP brings real competition to the political field.

  21. says: jitendra

    Become the part of such a big change & belive me this country & politicians and the way they do politics will change.Pls dont loose such a big oppourtunity.vote AAP.

  22. says: Vijayakumar Gopalan

    For me, MR. KEJRIWAL’s AAP does not look like another party. I see its a movement to get rid of corrupt politicians, political system, outdated laws…. SINCERELY ITS A REVOLUTION IN THIS CURRENT ERA OF CAPITALISM AND EVERY INDIAN SHOULD SUPPORT NOW OR ELSE NEVER……2011 to 2014 is a good year for INDIA to reveal UPA II s biggest ever corruption. This number will keep increasing by the coming years if they are in power….India’s best patriotic people respected Anna ji, Kiran Ji and Kejriwal Ji each fighting against these evil forces in their own conscience. Dont debate about Mr.Kejiriwal’s ethics or sincerity how many Indians have the guts to face these politicians, entreprenaurs judiciary for our common problems with the government??? He is a real Hero of 2014!!! Hats off to him and he made a history in Indian Politics……

  23. says: Narinder S.Grewalson

    Mr. Arvind Kejriwal has no parelell in India, None was there before him and after, time will tell ? he is the most humble man down to earth with no desire, ego, hunger for money or chair of any kind except to awaken and enlightening the common Indians of ” The Land of Gods ” for their better future and prosperous life. His aim is to emancipate and liberate The Indians from the criminals, political looters, Dynastic and family hungery wolves with the touch of religion, faith and selfish dogmas, gain, name, fame, money trrough hook or crock. Mr. Kejriwal DID much more than the entire polititions combined since The independence of India. People have to wake up for their good. May God Bless them and awake them. Good Luck.

  24. says: Varghese Abraham

    I believe in God….. and believe our Creator will change India completely in 5 years…and our nation will be the best in the coming years…

    This is a start… just keep watching a min of 50 seats….

  25. says: Susan Das Chaudhuri

    This is the party needed to take India forward. Friends and countrymen do not lose this opportunity to see them succeed. Do not allow them to be crushed by tyranny of small minds.

  26. says: vivek mahajan

    I have been amongst those lucky few to have worked under Sh. Avay Shukla (IAS) , a dynamic leader with impeccable integrity.Due to his moral turpitude, intellect and reputation for being a visionary he had the guts to even take the CM spot on .Above all even CMs used to give due respect to his views .Away from the bureaucratic tangles and in service shackles ,Its nice to come face to face with crystal clear views emanating right from the heart .Well said sir.Let us wish that the the glimmer of hope illuminate the country in times to come or at least purify the political system enabling the country to occupy the space that it truly deserve.

  27. says: Indrani Sinha

    Arvind Kejriwal is the only person who decided to stand up and call a spade a spade. We have to support him to have the courage and be with him in his protest…

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