The Aam Adami Party has returned with a bang – one that could in fact become ‘the big bang’ of the 21st century politics of India.
It has decimated Congress, the old guard that dominated the politics of this vast country in one way or the other for the entire past century, and in the same blow AAP has also brought down the rightist BJP from the high horse of the ‘Modi wave’.
The anti-corruption crusaders have pulled out a stunning surprise, (or perhaps a rude shock) surpassing even the wildest expectations by winning an unbelievable 67 of the total 70 seats of the Delhi Assembly.
The AAP surprised everyone earlier as well when in the 2013 Delhi elections it stepped in from nowhere to become the largest party (though short of majority) beating both the old hands, Congress and the BJP.
But, then, it made a blunder and resigned from Delhi’s government after remaining in power for just 49 days.
The party had their reasons for this naïve decision; however, in popular perception it went down as an indicator that it was not yet ready for the task of governance, to deliver on its promises or, worse, that it was more comfortable protesting and rallying against corruption and did not have the guts to take the bull by its horns.
The timing was terribly off too as the general elections were around the corner. The AAP could not make up for this loss of face and was drubbed in the national elections, winning just four seats in the 543 member lower house.
But, within eight months, it has hit back and with vengeance.
What is behind AAP’s phenomenal rise to prominence?
In terms of Indian parliamentary mathematics, Delhi is small fry.
It does not even have the full status of a ‘state’ (termed province in Pakistan) and has just seven seats in the Lok Sabha (National Assembly) and three in Rajya Sabha (Senate).
However, it has assumed a ‘larger than life’ status for reasons.
The General elections in 2014 made Indian politics opposition-free.
The BJP and its allies (NDA) won 336 seats and the next biggest party, Congress and its allies (UPA) just 60. The results handed the BJP a carte blanche and paved the way for a totalitarian rule by the Hindu rightist party. The party’s right wing cohorts did not want to lose this chance. They made no bones about what they want India to turn into.
Here are some selective snippets offering a peep into a ‘truly Hindu India-to-be’, a Pakistani view, of course:
1: Hindu extremist outfits launched a plan to ‘reconvert’ 150 million Indians to Hinduism as they believed they had been misled or forcefully converted to other religions, notably Christianity, since the partition.
Ghar Wapsi, as the program is named, did not get a public rebuke, let alone an action, from the ruling BJP; churches were vandalized; the BJP MPs vowed to put Ganesh idols in every mosque, the Federal Minister divided Indians into ‘Ramzadas’ and ‘haramzadas’.
And, Modi kept silent.
The Hindu newspaper wrote in its February 9 editorial, “More troubling is the fact that these acts are being committed by groups that belong to the larger ideological universe that Mr. Modi has been associated with.”
Read also, The New York Times opinion, Modi’s Dangerous Silence here.
Aren’t we, in Pakistan too, used to similar silences by major political parties who utter not a word when the outfits belonging to ‘the same universe’, hit at our hapless minorities?
2: Hindu fundamentalists, occupying official positions, had a field day stirring up anti-minority paranoia and unraveling all the conspiracies being hatched to stop India from becoming a great Hindu land.
Sakshi Maharaj, a BJP parliamentarian finds ‘low birth rate’ among Hindus apocalyptic. He wants every Hindu woman to give birth to at least four children to ‘defuse the Muslim conspiracy to outnumber Hindus in their own country’. Scroll.in made these rather funny projections showing that under the present trends, it would take Indian Muslims 220 years to become equal in number to Hindus!
Another favorite, stir-up of the Hindu zealots is what they call ‘Love Jihad’ – Muslim men luring Hindu women into marriage under a well hatched conspiracy to outnumber Hindus besides, of course, causing them insult.
Read about a Bajrangi vigilante who is out to undo this ‘great game’ here.
Sakshi Maharaj also wants the death penalty for those ‘desecrating’ cows; the BJP-ruled state of Rajasthan has inducted a first ever ‘cow minister’. The state also made camel its state-animal just in time to bar its slaughter at the Muslim Eid festival.
A Pakistani can so well relate to this paranoia and the conspiracies with it being hatched by foreign powers and our own ‘liberal scum’, otherwise, what could have possibly stopped us from becoming a great Muslim country?
3: MF Hussain, the great India painter, was hounded into exile by Hindu fundamentalists in 2006. They accused him of hurting their religious sentiments; he faced a multitude of law suits. He could not return to Mumbai under the rule of Shiv Sena, and died in exile in 2011.
But this treatment is not reserved for Muslims of high acclaim. Tamil writer, novelist, Perumul Murugan was declared ‘blasphemous’ by the same Hindu outfits last month. He was forced to flee his home town and withdraw all his writings. He also announced to give up writing entirely.
Last year, Penguin India agreed to waste a book on the history of Hinduism written by known historian Wendy Doniger. She was called a Hindu-hater by the rightists outfits and her writing was found to be blasphemous and a foreign conspiracy. They were able to push their way through the Indian judicial system.
Then a BJP stalwart, Subramaniam Swamy, discovered recently that Amir Khan’s latest hit movie, PK, was secretly funded by the ISI, to defame Hinduism, indeed.
I may be repetitive here, but how can a Pakistani not understand the dangers of the ‘western notion of freedom of expression’ when it comes to protecting ones great indigenous traditions and religious values?
4: Last but not the least, it was only under the BJP government that Indian scientists discovered that the West has succeeded in science and technology by stealing knowledge from the Hindu past and it included airplanes, spaceships, biotechnology, transplant technology to count a few. The discovery was announced in a prestigious Indian Science Conference in December 2014. Planes discovered in the Vedic age could fly between planets, says speaker at the Indian Science Conference.
Hey, but wait a minute, this is sheer plagiarism!
All these great discoveries had already been made by pious Muslim scientists who first conferred under the leadership of General Ziaul Haq back in the 1980s. In one such conference, head of Pakistan’s space organisation had even “proposed that an explanation for the Holy Prophet’s Mairaj (ascension to heaven) be sought in Einstein’s theory of relativity”.
If you don’t believe me, read They call it Islamic science a paper by Pervez Hoodbhoy, who was probably the only non-bearded ‘scientist’ attending that conference in October, 1987. They call it Islamic science.
All these startling revelations by religious extremists occupying official positions make clear the shape of the Indian socio-political discourse under Modi, besides, of course, bustling shopping malls and amazing structures strewn all over its mega cities and the countless millionaires and billionaires.
The AAP did make a blunder when it resigned from the Delhi government last year but perhaps the Indian voter made a bigger blunder by not only handing down the BJP a thumping majority but also by obliterating the opposition altogether.
Or, you may say, that the secular and the pro-people India failed to find an expression in the past Elections results. They were either too confused, lethargic, resigned or had started taking all the fruits of democracy for granted.
Modi’s less than a year rule sent them rude reminders one after the other.
The good in India have spoken and they have spoken out loud.
That’s something the good in Pakistan could never achieve, I admit and lament.
The BJP polled just 31 per cent of the total vote in the general election in 2014. A huge two-third majority had actually said nay to Modi but as they were divided along caste, religion, ethnic lines, he was able to translate his minority of the vote into a majority of seats in the lower house.
They had polled almost the same percentage of votes in the Delhi elections but this time, the other side has overcome its divisions and that’s how the AAP’s over 50 per cent share in votes won it a surreal majority of 67 of 70.
It is not only the AAP’s manifesto and its track record of hard work and pro-people policies that lured Delhi voters into its folds in droves, it is also the frightening picture of a highly intolerant Hindu India, that the BJPs ‘artists’ have so successfully painted, that is driving people to the new party.
The Indian voter has found an alternative. The Pakistani voter too, is in search of a newer viable option.
But don’t we already have a new party, the PTI, pitched against the two old guards namely the PML-N and the PPP?
The PTI was placed in the 2013 elections, where the AAP is now after winning Delhi. They both started small with a potential to make it big.
How has the PTI performed in Pakhtunkhwa over the last year and a half?
Can it present the achievements of its provincial government to make a winning case in the next general elections?
That’s something the AAP needs to learn from the PTI; it can’t hide behind any excuses now.
It has to deliver, otherwise its fall will be as phenomenal as has been its rise.