I’ve been meaning to write an open letter to the Aam Aadmi Party for a while now. And what better time to write it than when its MLAs are on the verge of getting a four hundred percent salary hike? But my open letter won’t see the light of day. Open letters are written to name and shame people for their actions, and if possible, to make them mend their ways. But what of those who feel no shame? What of those on whom one has lost all hope? Well if their actions affect the country, and if their words backstab its people, the best one can do is take them head on. I live more than 2000 kilometers from Delhi, and yet I feel supremely betrayed by the cap-donning crusaders.
Yes, we’ve all felt betrayed when we reminisce their promising origin. There was a time when the entire country stood firmly behind the India Against Corruption movement. Many politicians made a beeline for Jantar Mantar then, but they were heckled and driven out by the protestors. Most of us watching these images on television cheered. Today we are unable to distinguish between the protestors and the politicians. The outfit that emerged as a result of deep anger and resentment against India’s political class has the distinction of having formed a government with Congress support. It has also supported Lalu Prasad Yadav in the upcoming Bihar elections.
There came a time when the India Against Corruption movement had held an elected government to ransom for too long. People wanted them to enter politics, get elected and do it legitimately. They conceded. Granted that perpetual protesters are terrible administrators, but I and many others believed that they would serve as a much needed conscience-keeping agent. Some of their aims such as right-to-recall and self-governance seemed impractical at first. But had I known the kind of people they were I would never have worried. One can trust them to practice everything apart from what they preach.
We even gave them the benefit of doubt for what seemed like a highly dubious referendum, which gave us the forty-nine day wonder. This was an eye-opener for me. From the deluxe bungalow to the Nigerian women, from taking to the streets against the central government to the failed attempts at self-governance, we saw it all. Whether it was because they couldn’t sustain all this or because their national ambitions beckoned them we will never know, but they called it quits very soon. I was happy for I knew they wouldn’t make it big nationally, and I waited for them to disappear into oblivion.
What made the people of Delhi do what they did earlier this year, will always remain a mystery to me. But then again we are a country that has voted the Congress, the Left and Lalu many more times than rationally permissible. And as if the forty-nine day stint was just a trailer, now we’re watching the actual movie unfold.
Jitendra Tomar and Somnath Bharti are examples of how committed the party really is to bring clean people into politics. Shady transactions worth crores are a symbol of the extent the party is willing to go to fight corruption. State-sponsored advertisements defending the local government and criticizing the union government is a display of how much they care about taxpayer money. Add to that the latest four hundred percent salary hike for MLAs. We were told that it wasn’t them but the common man who had formed this government, who had become an MLA, who had become the chief minister. But what happened to that common man? They are all set to enrich themselves further, but what did they do for him? I would love to have the right-to-recall provision in Delhi just for one day, and see what happens!
The mainstream media did report on the salary hike, but most of their time these days is taken up by riot-mongering. Nowhere in the world does anybody get a four hundred percent salary hike, ever. This is unheard of even in the private sector, where one’s work is assessed and one is payed accordingly. The work of MLAs is assessed only once in five years. Even then, if they have done well, their reward is a new term. But here, they want to use taxpayers’ money, increase their salaries without any assessment of their work, and all this before the government completes even one year in office. This is probably the only job in the world where one can sit down with one’s colleagues and choose any damn amount as one’s salary. We’ve heard far too often that with great power comes great responsibility but look at these men and women! As if 88000 rupees weren’t enough as their monthly allowance, they now want more than two lacs. This is the Common Man’s Party for you.
There must be a reason why most of the eminent personalities who formed this outfit are no longer affiliated to them. The prevalent theory is that some individuals hijacked the anti-corruption movement and turned it political, hijacked the party and made it shed its idealism, and are now hijacking the government and having a ball. To many, it seems increasingly like a con-job.
What scares me is the sheer level of hypocrisy. The usual suspects in the Indian political class don’t go about projecting some kind of saintliness. But here we have a sanctimonious bunch who are ready to go down to levels that even the Congress and other regional parties would feel uncomfortable at. The faster we get rid of this menace, the better!
Cover Image Source: Firstpost.com