AAP heralds the return of idealism

There appears to be widespread discontent, especially among the educated classes, with the UPA government. However, with the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 just round the corner, a firm and united alternative to the UPA seems like a distant dream. Modi fans dream of a Modi wave. But the electoral math indicates that the BJP has a strong presence only in a handful of states. The chances of forming the next government almost entirely depend on coalition partners. Unfortunately for the BJP, the NDA is now a shadow of its former self as partners fear losing the Muslim vote should they cosy up to Modi. The dubious third front, meanwhile, is plotting an anti-BJP and supposedly anti-Congress platform. In the backdrop of this impasse which will have to be sorted out post the 2014 elections, it is heartening to see the rise of the Aam Aadmi party (AAP) in Delhi, and with it, a resurgence in idealism.

If you look back at the days of India’s independence, it was the culmination of several years of hard work put in by a number of people mobilized by Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Dr. Ambedkar and others. So when India won independence from the British, a number of those who participated in the independence struggle transitioned into politics. At that stage in India’s history, it was perhaps “cool” to be in politics. Serving the country was a good and noble endeavor. Parents never batted an eyelid when their sons and daughters joined politics with the aim of contributing to a better and free India. The mindset that prevailed at that stage appears to have served the country well for the first couple of decades since independence. Not surprisingly, we had leaders of the stature of Nehru, Shastri, Rajagopalachary, Dr. Radhakrishnan, Rajendra Prasad and others – Leaders who are widely respected and revered even to this day across party lines. But after the death of Lal Bahadur Shastri and the rise of Mrs. Indira Gandhi, family-owned political parties and dynastic culture slowly became the norm. Unfortunately for India, this resulted in a dramatic change in people’s attitude towards politics. Most people, especially the educated class started to shun politics. The common wisdom among the educated class was that, “If you are good for nothing, you enter politics.” As a result, those who entered politics were only those from political families or those with strong political connections. Moreover, the voices of the “good people” who joined politics were stifled as they were constrained to adapt and operate within the boundaries of a fundamentally flawed system. Sadly, this situation has persisted to this very day.

The entry of the Aam Aadmi party has started to change this dynamic quite a bit. An unprecedented number of people, especially the young, have put their jobs, education and businesses on hold to serve the party like never before. Should AAP win in Delhi, Indian politics will never be the same again. First and foremost, politics will start to become “cool” again. Many who worked for the party’s election campaign will possibly continue to serve in politics. Several others will join politics anew. No longer will politics be restricted to those with family connections. It will open up the playing field and attract new entrants like never before. The country will soon have new role models in politics. Moms and Dads across the country will wish their sons and daughters became the next Arvind Kejriwal.

Click here to read the rest of the article in The Economic Times

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