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Anshul is a Political Science and Law graduate from the University of Delhi. He is interested in political, legal and policy developments and frequently writes on related themes. You can contact him on anshulkumarpandey [at] gmail [dot] com.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Lessons for the Aam Aadmi Party

The general elections are in their full swing and everybody is looking forward to the May 12 battle of political behemoths in the Uttar Pradesh in the last leg of the elections. The results are to be announced on May 16.

Regardless of the outcomes of the elections, the Aam Aadmi Party is to emerge as a debutante national party experienced with fighting its first general election and which is here to stay. What are the lessons that it will have to learn to continually relevant?

#Lesson 1: Rational decision making: One of the major criticisms that was hurled on the AAP by the opposition parties was that it ran away from its responsibilities of running a government in Delhi. AAP national convener Mr. Arvind Kejriwal too has accepted this criticism labelled against him and has called his decision to quit as Delhi CM a 'mistake'.

Maybe this mistake could have been avoided if the AAP leader had not acted in haste. The Delhi CM could have called a press conference and given the opposition parties a deadline to reconsider their stance regarding the Jan Lokpal Bill. He could have threatened to quit if the stance of both the parties remained unchanged and he could have made political villains out of the Congress and the BJP. In short, through rational decision making, he could have actually gained from the resignation.

One wishes that Mr. Kejriwal has learnt his lesson and would act more rationally than emotionally in such situations which can have bearings for the electoral fortune of his party.

#Lesson 2: Muscle Power counts: The many physical attacks on AAP leaders all over the country have been embarrassing and have become issues to be concerned about for the party. It has made them look like infantiles who have wandered by mistake in the political arena. People see them as a party which talks about protecting the country and yet is unable to protect its own leaders.

The AAP will need to worry about such an image. People do not want a mob to rule the country. They want genuine leaders, who not only think like one but also act like one. Party leaders need to be and appear to be strong, with a mass appeal across different sections of the society. Being pelted with eggs and ink is hardly helping.

#Lesson 3: Allies are important: One cannot remain forever secluded in politics. Democracy is all about resolving differences and coming together to find a solution.

The Aam Aadmi Party will need to fine tune its allegations for maximum political effect. It will need the backing of other political parties to be able to exert uneasy political pressure in order to emerge as a politically astute alternative worth being given a chance to govern the country. Allies will be important in this regard as they will add to the strength of the party and help them win over hostile segments of the population. They will also be important as the alliance can give a chance for the party to play the clean politics v/s dirty politics dichotomy to their advantage to a wider section of the society.

#Lesson 4: Media Management: One unforgettable lesson that the rise of the AAP has provided contemporary Political Scientists is that the media is crucial part of any election campaign. In the west, the newspapers and television channels do not pretend to be objective and openly declare their support for a particular political party before the general elections. The rise of a biased media can either be criticised endlessly, or can be supported for the best interests of the political parties and to improve the level of debate and discussion in television and print journalism.

The Aam Aadmi Party cannot dump the media like it dumped Vinod Kumar Binny for 'anti-party activities'. Instead of leveling allegations against the media, it would be prudent if the AAP learns to manage it. This is a liberal argument and the Aam Aadmi Party is free to accept it or reject it.

If the Party is able to learn some of these lessons and bring about change within it, it would greatly improve the prospects of it standing a realistic chance of acquiring power in the next general elections. It can also choose to ignore these suggestions at the risk of its own peril.