AAP FOR CHANGE: Delhi deputy CM & Education Minister Manish Sisodia with Goa AAP convener Rahul Mhambrey at press conference to announce the changing face of the party.
TARA NARAYAN listens in to interviews given by visiting Aam Aadmi Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi, Manish Sisodia… and comes to some conclusions.
MIND you the story making the grapevine is by welcoming now former Congress Mahila president, Pratima Coutinho, into the Aam Aadmi fold, the party has done something questionable. But why is it questionable? Defecting is a way of life with our politicians! All that AAP has done is welcomed a Congresswoman tired of two decades of being loyal to a party which betrayed her in the last elections; at least that is the perception.
But since her long career in the Congress party was untainted by scandal or scams AAP leaders thought she was better off in AAP, a more honorable party! AAP has no grand-daddy chief ministers or younger ambitious colleagues to backstab one another or it would seem. Clearly the Congress of Goa is rusting away into oblivion given the never-ending defections by its veteran Congress politicians. Defections have become the bane of Indian politics yet nobody takes a stand on it.
But perhaps the picture is clearing up now. AAP is taking a stand on it. You don’t have to hang around forever in any party if you’re not getting anywhere! Join AAP and you may go somewhere! Sometimes to defect is the more honorable thing to do. As visiting Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi and No2 High Command in the Aam Aadmi Party, Manish Sisodia, puts it, when you are betrayed in your own party “jiska dum ghut raha hai,” that’s if your heart is burning (as undoubtedly veteran Congress woman Pratima Coutinho’s heart must have burning after she lost as Congress candidate in the zilla parishad elections), it’s okay to seek greener pastures.
The point is in the Opposition parties there are always many who suffer from heart burn, just count how many veteran Congress politicians have been switching over to the ruling BJP if not out of love at least for money? The popular joke is that BJP money can buy you anything from votes to jobs to desirable postings to even chicken biryani and beer, bicycles and bikes, get your children’s school fees paid for, your home rent paid for and so on and so forth — paid for by a local politician who is also an investor in votes for his own and extended family!
IF this is true in national politics, it is also true in local state politics. Most of us who follow politics know all about how the cookie crumbles all around in today’s cesspool of politics where there is very little “imaan” (self-respect). It is as if all is fair in love and politics! AAP’s national leader and No.2 in the party (after Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of Delhi) Manish Sisodia takes pains to point out that AAP is different because it is doing “imandari ki rajneeti.”
Just don’t just accept his word for it, check it out. It’s there in black and white, AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal has proved it in the last six years in power and it is visible – the quality of life of the aam aadmi has improved considerably in Delhi, come and see the public schools good enough to make the children of the poorest of the poor feel like there’s a future for them being educated (Delhi public teachers go abroad for training and are all paid for), in the mohalla clinics, affordable power and water for low income families, safe freebie ride for women on buses and so on.
We haven’t gone to Delhi in ages but we hear only good things about how Delhi is being transformed slowly and surely, because as Manish Sisodia confirms, “All we did is stop the corruption of commissions from top to bottom and put the money saved to good use…when we came to power we hardly had any money but today we have a budget surplus of Rs7,000 crore! Actually governments are never short of money. But we are the only one who collected all the chori ka paisa and spent it on finding solutions to make the people’s life easier. See, we believe in imaandari ki rajniti!” Is it any wonder that the people of Delhi continue to repose faith in them?
Delhi showcases what they stand for and the message is spreading the country over, people are hearing about it and want to vote for AAP in their own state! Even in Goa many Goans are thinking of it as an alternative to Congress and BJP, more or less birds of the same feather living in each other’s pockets or so to speak, call it a political marriage of convenience. Never mind if it was former chief minister of Goa (and the country’s defense minister) Manohar Parrikar who fine-tuned this to an art form!
Perhaps Manish Sisodia is not aware of the nitty gritty of the Parrikar government politics of breathtaking U-turns and betrayals, or perhaps he does. However, as he has it, in Goa post-Manohar Parrikar, there’s been as steady decline of any political conscience as the AAP leadership sees it, so it’s the best time to woo Goans who no longer think that the government is for Goa or for Goans. AAP is for a Goa for Goans.
Mr Sisodia sees a clear call for change. Goans want change and it’s no small victory that AAP is witnessing a steady growth of support. After all it got 15% of the vote share in the recent Zilla Parishad elections, this is excellent going, enough for them to think of contesting all 40 seats in the next assembly elections. He was all praise for the young 26 years old AAP candidate Hanzel Fernandes (a carpenter by profession), who won the Benaulim seat by 434 votes in the recent ZP elections against the Congress candidate. See, that’s AAP for you! Aam aadmi is rooting for youngsters like Hanzel for whom this was a first time experience in politics.
Today in AAP they’re 4,000 strong in Goa and soon Mr Sisodia hopes they’ll be 8,000 strong, 10,000 strong…finally there’s a glimmer of hope of change on the political scene in Goa. AAP is a party which offers hope from the present scenario, he says, for “Ours is the politics of solutions!” He was patiently answering questions put to him by Goa TV channel media people at a press conference.
Including one interesting one by Rupesh Sawant of Goa Hub to do with AAP’s new found love for the late chief minister of Goa, Manohar Parrikar, who is now a “visionary” who cared for Goa and Goans (something the present BJP & Co have lost track of presumably). On the second day of his two-day flying visit to Goa on April 11- 12, Manish Sisodia made time to go out to Miramar beach to pay his respects first at the Bhau Bandodkar’s samadhi and late Manohar Parrikar memorial still coming up, seeing a lock there he had to be happy just leaving a floral garland on a table at the gate before a photograph of the former chief minister.
Not surprisingly the conclusion is that AAP’s new vision for Goa includes wearing Manohar Parrikar’s “halo” and to woo Manohar Parrikar’s son Utpal Parrikar as the face of AAP in the next assembly elections. Asked about this in not so many words, Mr Sisodia smiled some more and said it was early days for any guesswork and the party would reveal its plans when the time is ripe. It’s too early to tell who could be the next face of AAP in Goa.
Apart from heaping praise on the late Manohar Parrikar’s dream for Goa, Mr Sisodia’s two-day itinerary also included breakfasting at Parrikar’s favorite eatery Bhonsale’s down town Panaji, praying at Mahalakshmi temple, reportedly he also called at Marathi newspaper Tarun Bharat offices and opened out to media people seeking interviews. He even invited one media person to join the AAP family for a happier future (media future of course)!
From the looks and sound of it although there’ve been ups and downs in the AAP political fraternity, with the recent bright silver lining in the zilla panchayat elections its prospects are brightening and in politics one can never tell – after all Goan politics have always been “ajeeb.” Goa has an educated public and a weary and disillusioned long-suffering aam aadmi public can very well drawn the line and say enough is enough. Many want the State back in comparatively more capable, clean hands, unlike those tainted with loot, arrogance, lack of education and cheap theatrics to make a mockery of democracy, governance and the Constitution.
It is not far-fetched to think that one of these days AAP will be in the saddle of power for it has had enough innings learning the lessons of patience and playing the game; more honorably than either an old dynastic Congress or a BJP forever high on ill-gotten power, looting sprees, chewing off every bit of revenue it can find at ground level. Indifferent to the ground realityof how this kind of loot-maar politics is turning the life of aam aadmi in India into a veritable nightmare! Might as well give AAP a chance.