ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Déjà vu and Hoping for the Best...

The establishment in India views the victory – no less so, though they form only the opposition – of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi with irritation, suspicion, and distaste. But not so the aam aadmi of India! A student, a housewife, a gym instructor, an insurance agent are now members of the legislative assembly of India’s proud capital city. For trusting common humanity which has suffered for three generations under corrupt rule, this little blow to pride, pelf and power is a rousing signal. It is their riposte to the betrayal of the trust that the foot soldiers of Gandhi’s freedom struggle reposed in the leaders who inherited power from the British, and for the callous abandonment of the masses to hunger, disease, and lack of schooling. The people have leaped over the gates of the Westminster electoral system, which has so effectively shut the door for over 60 years on the aam aadmi’s hopes of representing himself. The Aam Aadmi Party, winning 28 seats in the recent elections in Delhi, decimating Congress power while at the same time denying the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) a workable majority, is a signal that the people of India have now found a way to defeat entrenched power, even as the Arabs did in their Spring, and before them the Czechs during the Velvet Revolution. The wresting of power without bloodshed, a new development in revolutionary history, perhaps, showing the way forward for many a disaffected group or minority, is another innovative feature of what might be achieved in 21st century politics.

For those who can remember, it was the aam aadmi and his constant presence among the poor in their localities that brought E M S Namboodiripad and the communist party to power in Kerala, but that was 60 years before the comrades forgot the basis of mass contact work and were forced to vacate Writers’ Building in Kolkata. And there are still a few alive who remember what the British Labour Party was before Blair made it into a rose-tinted variant of the Tories. Ramsay MacDonald’s Labour Party had opened offices everywhere and were the spokespersons for the subdued voices of the poor. No wonder King George V went beyond his constitutional mandate to warn MacDonald to be a responsible prime minister. One hears the same haughty tones in the displeasure of our baffled leaders, Congress or BJP.

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