By Dr. P J James
The Aam Admi Party (AAP-Common Man’s Party) formed more than a year ago by the anti-corruption leaders of Delhi and that shocked the entire Indian political spectrum in December 2013 by winning 28 of the 70 seats in the legislature for Delhi, after ending its 49-day Congress backed rule is now contesting the 16th Lok Sabha election by setting up candidates in a majority of seats with special emphasis on the urban constituencies in the country. The rise of the AAP has been fuelled by growing middle class fury and frustration at India’s transformation as one of the most corrupt regimes in the world coupled with the repercussions arising from the country’s recent descent into an unprecedented economic crisis in the form of “stagflation” leading to stagnation in productive spheres of the economy, widespread joblessness, booming speculative activities, sky-rocketing prices and above all widespread lawlessness and personal insecurity even in Delhi, the capital city. The absence of an alternative to Congress led UPA and BJP led NDA on the one hand, and CPI (M) led official Left’s shameful opportunism, its degeneration to ruling class positions and its open embrace of neoliberalism as exemplified in its rule in West Bengal and Kerala on the other, have very much enabled AAP to tap into the deep-rooted anger of the toiling masses and urban poor by making a series of populist promises. And, though a political start-up, the AAP has succeeded in capturing a substantial share of the corporate campaign space traditionally controlled by other ruling class parties especially that of the Congress, BJP, regional parties and the pseudo Left front led by the CPI(M). Consequent on the populist steps pertaining to drinking water supply, electricity tariff, etc., that catered to the desires of the residents of Delhi, the largest urban conglomeration in India composed of 2.2 crore people, the initial days of its rule substantially contributed in raising the expectations of common people and the credit rating of AAP in mainstream media to new heights. But with Kejriwal’s Dharna in Delhi on the question of control over Delhi police overplaying his hand and challenging established authority that raised a serious question mark among the ruling classes and liberal elite over the AAP’s suitability as an another political instrument along with the traditional governing parties of Indian ruling classes followed by registration of cases against Ambani and Moily, corporate media has started to distance itself from what it calls AAP’s “immature” and “anarchic” acts.
At the outset, it must be unequivocally be stated that, AAP having a clear-cut capitalist world outlook, the difference between it and other ruling class parties is only of degree and not of kind. During the 48 days of its existence in power, the AAP, despite being a petty bourgeois party led by a heterogeneous admixture of yuppies of all hues composed of urban IT professionals, disgruntled bureaucrats, neo-Gandhians, NGO theorists, postmodern ideologues and self-professed socialists, all of them not having an anti-systemic political perspective or ideological leanings, has proved that within the confines of existing laws and regulations there exists spaces for anti-corruption initiatives and for extending relief to the common people suffering from the onslaught of corrupt, pro-corporate, neoliberal policies. The reduction in water rates and electricity tariffs, though does nothing for around 50 percent of Delhi’s residents including the marginalized and most oppressed and down trodden slum dwellers who have no legal electricity connections and who rely on private water lorries for their daily water needs due to lack of access to the municipal water system, are welcome pro-people steps which the other ruling class parties and pseudo Left led by the CPI (M)are reluctant to implement whenever and wherever they were in power whether at the Centre or in the States.
Still more encouraging was Chief Minister Kejriwal’s sit-in dharna in Delhi demanding control over Delhi Police challenging the existing institutional and constitutional walls considered as sacrosanct by the elite classes in India and which are effectively used by the ruling regime to barricade people’s voices. It is an undisputable fact that the comprador rulers at Delhi are used to enjoy an extra mileage by keeping the Delhi Police under the Union Home Ministry and without bringing it under the Delhi State government, any talk of security for the common people of Delhi at present would be meaningless. While this Dharna exposed the ruling regime, it is also an eye-opener experiment as to how people’s representatives elected to centres of power should act to enable people at the grassroots to wield real political power. It was again repeated when Kejriwal attempted to present the Jan Lok Pal Bill in the Delhi Assembly without seeking prior sanction from the rubber-stamp Lt. Governor of Delhi. Though these and other procedural violations prompted even so called well-wishers of AAP to dissociate from it on account of latter’s crossing of the borderline of constitutionality, such steps contributed much to throw valuable insights into the pro-corporate and anti-people essence of the existing administrative and constitutional set up.
However, the most admirable initiative on the part of Kejriwal government was the filing, though short-lived of an FIR against Moily, the petroleum minister and Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest and one of the super-rich in the world who stands to gain an estimated additional profit of the order of Rs 500,000 crores a year with the re-fixing of the price of gas at $8.00 per million BTU (MBTU). Before the almost doubling of the unit price of gas from $4.20 to $ 8.00, earlier the Courts and two Committees led by Mukherjee and Rangarajan have favoured Ambani by recommending the raising of gas prices at several stages. The CAG has indeed submitted a scathing report on the actions of both the petroleum ministry and Reliance in this regard committed in the name of international market mechanism— the theory that the price of gas in India, in spite of low domestic cost of production, should be dictated by international prices. Here the political gain of AAP is that though it upholds the same market fundamentalism of BJP and the Congress– Kejriwal has also upheld the sanctity of the markets in his address at the CII meeting—by charging cases against the unholy alliance with Manmohan government and Reliance, it succeeded in posturing itself as a third alternative to the UPA and NDA respectively led by the Congress and BJP, the other two leading ruling class parties in India. Here it may not be an exaggeration to state that by this step, the AAP has also succeeded in moving into and taking control of the natural space of dissatisfaction and cleverly sprinting away with the ‘reformist’ agenda espoused by the CPI and CPI (M) social democratic sections before their outright embrace of neoliberalism in the nineties. For, during an interview in January, 2014, CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat himself had conceded that space to AAP by unequivocally stating that many of the virtues that AAP claims for itself like a “clean image, denying the perks and privileges of office and decentralizing power have been practiced by the Left from the outset”.
On the Anti-Graft Agenda of AAP
Obviously, in the absence of a full-fledged political program, since “the absence of a baggage of prefixed agenda or program” itself is its merit as claimed by its own proponents, anti-corruption agenda is the pivot around which the whole advancement of AAP revolves. The AAP leadership projects the Jan Lokpal which it claims as its brainchild along with the Right to Information (RTI) as a panacea for all the evils confronting the country today. Though its clean, anti-graft agenda is attractive to everybody, fighting a national election on just the issue of corruption is problematic. To presume that a quasi-legal institution like the Jan Lokpal would handle and settle the multifarious and multidimensional problems facing the country is too simplistic and silly including AAP’s overreliance on the judicial system which also is as corrupt as the other organs of the State. AAP’s dependence on the judicial and legal system as the savior to resolve the issues in gross disregard of the badly needed fundamental transformation in the economic, political, social, and cultural spheres is, no doubt, inseparably linked up with its superficial approach to corruption as independent of social relations, economic policies and historic-political stage of development and transformation of capitalism as a social system itself.
Today corruption is a ubiquitous phenomenon that has assumed epic proportions under neoliberalism. It is an inalienable concomitant of financial accumulation and wealth appropriation guided by the ideology of market fundamentalism. Historically associated with a regime of private property under various state forms including both liberal and bureaucratic, today under neoliberal financial accumulation with further expansion of decaying parasitic and speculative capital, corruption and black money have assumed a specificity of its own through corporate-political-bureaucratic nexus subjecting every realm—executive including military and police, judiciary and legislature–of the state to its diktats. During the Keynesian welfare period under the façade of democracy and state intervention, though capitalism could camouflage the decay and parasitism of corporate finance capital for a time, with the collapse of the welfare state and its eventual withdrawal from social welfare programs, coupled with the elimination of the democratic rights gained by workers through yester years’ struggle, all the parasitism and decay associated with finance capital are coming out in the open with intensified notoriety today. For instance, in the specific case of India, in the fifties, black money was estimated at 5 percent of the national income. Today, however, on account of the operation of laws of motion of corporate capital, a multi-fold exponential growth of black money has occurred such that national income has become a subset of black/unaccounted or parallel economy of India. Today illegal deposits from India in numbered Swiss bank accounts are estimated to be much larger than the country’s national income. In the mad rush for ensuring fabulous profits for finance capital, the neoliberal, corporate sponsored state itself is encouraging financial swindles, extortion and criminality as part of the ruthless drive to attack the living conditions and democratic rights of workers and toiling masses. In the neocolonial countries such as India where the comprador ruling regime under subservience to imperialist centres is channeling the country’s wealth to exotic tax havens such as Swiss banks and through so called Mauritius route, etc., the state is increasingly casting away its erstwhile role as an ‘initiator’ of economic activity in the so called “state led development”. Instead, through deregulation, decontrol and disinvestment and abolition of the previous regulatory mechanism, the ruling regime has become a ‘facilitator’ for the rapacious grabbing of country’s wealth and scarce resources by corporate capital. Public funds mobilized through taxation and borrowing are driven to speculation in equity, currency, real estate and ‘forward’ markets monopolized by financial giants, where fraud, swindles, artificial fixing of asset prices, market distortions and account manipulations are justified for the sake of shoring up corporate profits within the shortest possible time. Interpenetration of corporate capital into the various organs of the state and close integration between the two are indispensable in this scenario. As such corruption has become an integral factor in neoliberal wealth accumulation guided by the philosophy of market fundamentalism.
All adherents of this corporatization or financialisation including corporate CEOs, political bosses, corporate media, bureaucrats and a whole set of intermediaries are all partners in the neoliberal corruption regime. It is the unholy nexus among them that facilitates the shifting of huge volume of black money appropriated through underhand deals, commissions, kick backs, bribes, transfer pricing, false documentation, and other tricks of trade and financial speculation to foreign safe tax havens across the world.Transparency International, an NGO that gathers regular information on illicit, underhand transactions by corporate giants with administrative connivance, based on data from America, Europe, Asia and Africa has estimated the value of such corrupt proceeds at around $ 1 trillion each year. Corruption as an inherent tendency of neocolonial accumulation and market expansion today has transformed to such an extent that neoliberal policy-making itself is taking place at the corporate board rooms of corporate financial speculators. One of the glaring manifestations of this corporate fraud on the people has been the huge ‘bail-out packages’ enacted in USA and Europe and in various neocolonial countries like India transferring trillions of dollars of public funds to speculative financiers. In India, for instance, during the one decade-rule of UPA, according to an analysis of the budget documents, total tax exemptions or tax ‘subsidies’ to corporate businesses amount to around Rs. 35 lakh crore. This financing of the very same corporate speculators whose reckless and illegitimate financial dealings led to the crisis, is one the biggest frauds committed on the backs of toiling people. As such, neoliberal policy-making in the interest of corporate capital has become the biggest source of corruption committed by all regimes in recent times. Therefore, in alliance with corporate capital, all the various institutions of parliamentary democracy right from judiciary, executive and legislature at the top to local governments at the bottom are becoming corrupt and rotten to the core. The emergence of micro-finance led by NGOs under neoliberalism which has been an ingenious device by finance capital to integrate the local and grassroots with imperialist market is permeating corruption even to the village level.
Therefore, a political position on corruption and the people’s struggle against it should invariably be based on the proper perspective of its link with the logic of neoliberalism today. To be precise, the real struggle against corruption is a struggle against neoliberal policies and the ruling regime that continuously reproduce corruption and black money. Regrettably, apart from sheer populism, neither the proponents of AAP nor its adherents have such a meaningful understanding on corruption. Together with corruption, in their struggle for life’s sustenance, aam admis are constantly confronting such fundamental problems as hunger and food insecurity, landlessness, lack of shelter, education, medicine, unemployment, price rise, caste oppression, gender discrimination, communalism, ecological crisis, police repression and so on which are integrally linked up with capitalist wealth accumulation and neoliberal economic policies that favour corporate mafia at the expense of toiling people. Therefore, what requires is a comprehensive approach to corruption in proper relation with the other burning issues of the people. Corruption can be overcome only by a reversal of the neoliberal policies and overcoming of the capitalist system whose driving force is unhindered profit motive. A genuine anti-corruption initiative is integrally liked with the move towards a basic democratization of the caste-based and communal social order itself. That corruption can be overcome by a judicial overreach or by a legal reform is mere wishful thinking.
In this context, a note on the fate of previous anti-corruption movements that evolved in India over the past decades with excessive expectations is in order here. Of particular relevance here are the Total Revolution Appeal of the first half of seventies by Jaya Prakash Narayan and the anti-Bofors Movement of the late eighties by V P Singh. Both these movements, while considerably weakened the Congress and put the Janata Party and Janata Dal respectively in power, in the absence of both an ideological orientation and a policy perspective on corruption, led to their eventual disintegration on the one hand and, enhancing the credibility and respectability of reactionary Sangh Parivar on the other, paving the way for the ascendancy of BJP as one of the leading political parties in India. No wonder, several of the recent anti-corruption stalwarts who were earlier associated with Kejriwal like Ramdev and Kiran Bedi are now in RSS camps. No doubt the AAP also harbours highly communal, casteist, gender-insensitive, corporate, power-hungry and opportunist elements that totally lack a democratic perspective on society.
Here an examination of the socio-economic base of the present anti-corruption movement and the emergence of AAP also assumes significance. Two-and-a-half decades of globalization-liberalization-privatization regime or the so called ‘Manmohanomics’ in India has devastated the vast majority of the people composed of workers, mainly in the casual, unorganized sectors, landless poor peasants, slum dwellers, migrant workers, dalits, adivasis, women, minorities and other oppressed and marginalized sections. They belong to the 80 percent of the Indian population whose daily earning is less than Rs. 20 a day as revealed by the recent Arjun Sen Gupta Committee of the Indian Planning Commission. Being driven to the Inaccessible peripheries of society and forced to engage completely in their both ends meet, they are not the concern of the mainstream/ official political parties, nor are they visible in the media lime-lights or a topic of discussion in corporate media. On the other hand, during this same period, India has witnessed the rapid growth of a class of corporate billionaires along with the mushrooming growth of 300 million middle class which is even larger than the combined population of present European Union. Imbibed with high aspirations and illusions, as a class, they are impatient and dissatisfied with all round corruption, bureaucratic red-tape, police high-handedness and personal insecurity even in daily life. A section of the corporate business class who has built up their fortunes mainly orienting on the globalization-induced tastes, conspicuous consumption and buying power of the middle class is also very much concerned with the big scams and swindles that have rocked India in recent years. This section of the bourgeoisie feels that corruption and political instabilities associated with it are a threat to its investments and profits. They are eager to distance themselves from corporates such as Reliance who have already caught in scams and who have greater stakes in the ruling regime. Naturally they are ready to support the anti-corruption movement led by middle class professionals and retired bureaucrats as efficient and ‘corruption-free capitalism’ are catchwords appealing to them also. This was already evident from the list of corporate contributors to the Anna Hazare movement two years earlier.
As a matter of fact, inter-corporate contradictions’ linkage with the anti-corruption movement led by the ruling classes is not a new thing in India. It was evident in the anti-corruption movement of the seventies that led to the ascendancy of Janata Party to the Delhi throne. Through a well publicized swift move, George Fernandez, the then industries minister ordered the expulsion of IBM and Coca Cola, two American MNCs from India and it was interpreted as an anti-imperialist step on the part of the Janata government, its ideologues and a section of the media. However, within a while, this claim was exposed when the same ministry accorded green signal to Siemens, one of the biggest German MNCs to spread its tentacles all over India. As such, filing of case against Reliance is not a sufficient condition for categorizing AAP as anti-corporate or against capitalism.
The big bourgeoisie in alliance with corporate media is always eager to camouflage corporate corruption and legitimize capitalism by diverting people’s attention away from corporate corruption to corruption in government. Quite reminiscent of the erstwhile ‘license-permit-raj’ allegation against Nehruvian model of state-led development, liberal intelligentsia even today is in the habit of propagating the view that corruption is associated with public sector and government functioning while private sector is the victim of that corruption. Naturally, downsizing and rollback of the state from economic and social spending on the one hand, and greater privatization and freedom of the market are ready-made solutions for abolishing corruption. Anti-corruption campaign logically turns against public sector, subsidies to the poor, etc., and confining of the government to the maintenance of law and order for the play of market forces controlled by corporate monopolies. Obviously, the gainers of this anti-corruption movement are definitely not aam admis, but those middle and upper middle class sections who have the purchasing power and access to high-priced ‘quality’ products backed by glittering advertisement and above all the corporate capitalists themselves whose interests will be served in an orderly and ‘honest’ manner. As privatization and withdrawal of the state from vital sectors such as food, education, health, etc., intensify and as subsidies are rapidly cut in the name of fighting corruption, workers, marginalized sections and even lower middle classes who are incapable of purchasing goods and services from the market will be pauperized further. To be precise, AAP’s approach that primarily dwells in the microeconomics of corruption disregarding its macroeconomics that deals with neoliberal globalization policies is definitely pro-corporate in its orientation while vast majority of the aam admis are outside its purview.
This was amply proved by Kejriwal himself while addressing the Confederation of Indian Industry on February 18, 2014. Removing all doubts on the part of corporate captains, especially in the context of framing FIR against Reliance, in his speech, he unequivocally stated that APP is only against crony capitalism and that it stands for a corruption-free capitalism in which the state will have a minimal role. While reiterating his pro-privatization stand, he explained the need of changing procedures and methods that have been hampering capitalist prospects of the country. Kejriwal did not lose the opportunity to lambaste the ‘extortionist approach’ that has been adopted by the past governments to serve their own interests and deprive the businessmen of promising prospects. He upheld a capitalist regime free from state controls for the country’s growth and in this regard Kejriwal could be seen along the same wavelength with the liberal intelligentsia in the country who pleads for a corruption-free liberal regime which, according to it, can ensure sufficient FDI inflows into the country for achieving high growth and overcoming backwardness. A reading of Kejriwal’s speech at the CII platform that was made after the filing of FIR against Reliance amply makes it clear that his concern was primarily to remove big businesses’ apprehensions on AAP. It is also an accomplished fact that some of the corporate houses including even Tata have definite contradictions with Ambani who has almost made Manmohan regime his captive. Kejriwal’s reiteration on the importance of revamping policies and procedures to provide a conducive environment that allows businesses to thrive in India including his prognosis on “pure” or “corruption-free” capitalism are all manifestations of his basic inability to comprehend the logic of capitalism in the neoliberal epoch. However, his petty bourgeois utterances such as “government has no business to be in the business” (including of course, practices like American model of fund-raising charging up to Rs. 20000/- per plate for dining with him) having undeniable neoliberal nuances are clear-cut indications that if it comes to power, the AAP also will be bound to traverse the beaten track of neoliberalism as manifested through Thatcherism in Britain, Reaganomics in the US and Manmohanomics India.
AAP and the Question of Democratization
On the fundamental question of caste and caste oppression, the leadership of AAP is evidently having a feudal mindset. In this regard, Kejriwal’s observations in particular reveal that he is still cherishing the inhuman, pro- urban, pro-elite and non-inclusive perspectives upheld by him and his compatriots during the anti-Mandal agitations propped by the Hindutva fascists in the eighties. No party in India that professes a pro-people posture can keep silence on the caste question that continues as a distinctive inhuman feature dividing the people of India. Caste-based oppression, instead of weakening, has only strengthened in diverse forms in recent years. A recent example of institutionalization of caste oppression is the notorious khap panchayats, especially of Haryana. Even the Supreme Court of India recently had to declare its ruling on the urgent need of suppressing it. In this context, leaders of the other ruling class parties, though are keen to uphold caste directives in their personal and family relations, have also come forward denouncing khap panchayats at least for hoodwinking the people. However, the AAP leaders Kejriwal, and Yogendra Yadav, emanating from Haryana have displayed a despicable position on this crucial question. Unable to denounce the inhuman system of Khap which should be annihilated with immediate effect, in an interaction, they tried to whitewash it terming the practice as “cultural”. Their inherent feudal-reactionary mindsets coupled with the eagerness to appease the upper caste Haryana vote-banks in the forthcoming elections may have prompted them to make such statements.
But this anti-dalit, pro-upper caste orientation of APP as reflected in its pro-khap approach is not an solated one. Towards the racial/minority question also the AAP leadership upholds more or less similar undemocratic position. AAP Law Minister, Somnath Bharti’s, raid leading a mob on January 15 midnight on the residences of several African women living in South Delhi’s Malviya Nagar with self-appointed role as a guardian of morality using aggressive and vile tactics in the name of “cleaning” Delhi of crime and corruption and bursting “drug and prostitution ring” was not only a mere question of “moral policing” and therefore illegal as the media has interpreted it but also racist and therefore inhuman. Four of the accused women, two from Uganda and two from Nigeria, were compelled by Bharti to undergo medical tests for illegal drugs at the AIIMS though the tests proved that no drugs had been consumed by any of the women. A couple of women were also compelled to give urine samples in public following the lumpenisation unleashed on them by AAP. Instead of apologizing for this unjustifiable act on behalf of the AAP government, Kerjiwal vigorously defended his reactionary minister and sought to deflect criticism by denouncing the Delhi police for not protecting the women of Delhi and accused the police of being complicit with “foreigners”, referring to the African women who are the most discriminated and marginalized and exploited from worst forms of racial, gender and economic oppression in South Delhi. To be precise, the AAP’s vigilante attacks on African students and immigrants once again smacks of a petty bourgeois party hostile to the interests of the working class and the oppressed including women everywhere.
The same ruling class approach is visible in AAP’s stand on militarization prevailing in Jammu and Kashmir and North Eastern states including the wanton imposition of black laws such as AFSPA an UAPA on the people. When Prashant Bhushan, one of the stalwarts of the AAP having progressive-democratic perspectives on several questions, expressed a personal view against the imposition of AFSPA in Kashmir by talking of a referendum in that state to decide whether the people want the army to handle internal security, Hindutva forces came out physically attacking him. This compelled Kejriwal to immediately intervene restating that on this question the AAP shares the same perspective held by the other ruling class parties such as the Congress and BJP. This also provided an opportunity to him to reiterate that its members would in future refrain from expressing opinions on anything that was not agreed by a broad consensus within the party. Here it may be noted that widespread allegations are there against a series of human right violations routinely committed by the military and paramilitary forces, against the ubiquitous corruption and scams prevailing in military whose accounts under the guise of national security are not subject even to parliamentary auditing, etc. Around 25 percent of the central budgetary outlay which is set apart for arms purchase regularly gives rise to corruption scandals, and military corruption in terms of magnitude often surpasses those in the civilian sphere. When the Jeevan Reddy Commission appointed by the central government recommended a repeal of the undemocratic AFSPA, the military came to the fore vetoing it without waiting for the decision of the elected government. On all these crucial questions including military deployment violating people’s fundamental rights and rampant corruption in military, the AAP, on account of its class orientation, has not spelt out a democratic perspective
Ideological Underpinnings of AAP
To this day, AAP has a taken a tactical position of refusing to define itself ideologically. In its 12-point “vision document” published a few months before, it has enlisted such populist tasks as bringing of Jan Lokpal, people-determined price for essential commodities, abolition of beacons on cars of MPs and MLAs, transparency in fund collection, abolition of colonial laws on land acquisition, quality education and healthcare services, good governance, peoples participation, etc. which are achievable within the existing capitalist system and without altering the rules of the game. As already noted, in his speech at the CII, Kejriwal has unequivocally stated that AAP upholds capitalism. But Yogendra Yadav, AAP’s chief theoretician was more shrewAd in ideologically situating it. In an interview to CNN-IBN in January, 2014, while emphatically denying AAP as socialist he said that “the binaries of the 20th century, either Left or Right, do not make sense” today. Meanwhile, Kejriwal has said that the AAP refuses to be guided by ideologies and that they are entering politics to change the system. He said: “We are aam aadmis. If we find our solution in the left we are happy to borrow it from there. If we find our solution in the right, we are happy to borrow it from there.” This “solution-based” approach of AAP has even went to the extent of even ridiculing the demand for ideological clarity, clarifying that ideology was for pundits where as AAP was completely free from the trappings of the Left or Right.
Here, suffice it to say that political neutrality or what is called deconstruction of the left-right polarity in society is a time-tested method often used by postmodernism as the ideology of neoliberalism to conceal the real agents of the repressive system of present day complex corporate capitalism. At a time when the great bipolar struggle between capital and wage labour has risen to new heights, wealth concentration with the financial oligarchs on the one hand and deprivation and destitution of the toiling masses on the other have reached alarming proportions, and the contradiction between capital and nature has moved to its farthest limits, the thesis of a non-partisan and neutral approach claiming that these conflicts will not be reflected in the political sphere or that politics is independent of these contradictions is certainly intended to spread the illusion that capitalism is eternal. Therefore, ideologues of AAP trying to locate themselves in the vacuum of political centrism created by the alleged ‘neutralization’ of the Right and the Left are dwelling in a theoretical myopia spreading angst and despair among the broad masses projecting capitalism as inviolable. In fact, post-ideological formulations or catchwords such as ‘ideology as baggage’ ‘political neutrality’, ‘autonomy of state,’ etc. that are concomitants of neoliberalism are not new revelations but are only reincarnations of the prognoses of “end of ideology” and “end of history” put forward by neoliberal think-tanks like Daniel Bell and Francis Fukuyama a few decades back.
Quite revealingly, a whole set of postmodern and identity theorists enthused with the highly abstract post-ideological politics of AAP, according to which ideology acts as a baggage or obstruction for solution based actions, have come forward theorizing AAP from different persuasions. For them AAP heralds a neopolitics that challenges all hitherto ‘establishmentarian politics’ ranging from liberal democracy to communist dictatorship. In AAP, they envisage a move towards direct/participatory democracy that is capable of overcoming conventional ‘elite-oriented politics’ based on master-servant relations. Some of them have even gone to the extent of identifying AAP as “post-sociological politics of the multitude” that, it is argued, effectively nullifies conventional “state-centered politics.” Though the present AAP leadership may be oblivious of such postmodern theorizations, it is to be reiterated here that these formulations by Indian NGO and civil society theoreticians are only grotesque and distorted imitations of the short-lived postulates evolved by imperialist think-tanks associated with the American and European social science research institutions, Ford-Rockefeller philanthropies and World Bank who have put forward them in the context of the advent of neoliberalism a few decades back. Indian theoreticians of AAP may not be aware of the fact that the voluminous papers and research works manufactured in imperialist research centres espousing “non-state participatory democracy and good governance” have already been gone in to the dustbin of history as all the inherent contradictions of the neocolonial world order are further sharpened and have become irresolvable within the system.
Before concluding, it is to be noted that the slogans of ‘political neutrality’ and ‘post-ideology’ are mere bogies used by ruling classes to camouflage the true class essence of the existing social order. Nobody can deny the existence of definite views and perspectives behind every organized social action whether they are progressive or regressive. Though they may not be documented, these views and perspectives or strategies and tactics form the theoretical basis of objective action by organized groups in society. Politics or political program in the simplest sense means the strategies and tactics required when people interact with the system. Even in the absence of a documented/written program, the AAP is also bound to have its ideology and politics, the existence of which can be denied only by postmodernists and by anarchists whose actions lead, as was seen in the Somnath Bharti led vigilante attacks in Delhi, only to lumpenised attacks on the people derailing the badly needed fighting unity of the oppressed. And, as history has proved time and again, such moves ultimately serve the ruling classes.
The above note does not, however, construe to mean that everything associated with the phenomenon of AAP is totally negative. With the resignation of the Delhi government, though its first chapter is closed, next is opened with its entry in to the Lok Sabha election scene in a big way. In spite of certain anti-people moves like the moral policing on the most oppressed African women and Kejriwal’s pro-Khap and pro-AFSPA utterances that smack of utter lack of a progressive perspective on democratization, during its 49-day Delhi rule, though a petty bourgeois party, AAP succeeded in adding several feathers to its cap. Among them, the most important one is the filing of FIR against the biggest Indian corporate thug and his political pimp. Its political significance in India assumes particular relevance at a time when even the erstwhile CPI (M) led governments in Bengal and Kerala had degenerated to the position of mere compradors to corporate mafia of various hues while in power. Together with this, the AAP’s interventions in electricity and drinking water provisions and steps against FDI in retail show that even under the neoliberal regime, there still exists space for catering to the limited aspirations of the people, though there are definite limits to such populist programs.
At the political level, the AAP’s success lies in attracting and politicizing large section of the traditionally self-centred middle class youth who are disgusted with the decay and degeneration of mainstream political sphere led by the ruling class parties and pseudo Left. This section of the politicized youth despite not having a progressive approach to democratization and lacks a political program against neoliberal policies that devastate the vast majority of toiling masses, has succeeded in putting grave challenges to the anti-people Congress and BJP. In Delhi, the AAP was successful in catching people’s negative votes against these parties with the whole-hearted support and mobilization by this large number of youth capable of using the most up-to-date information and communication technologies in propaganda work. It shows that the people are ready to vote for an alternative to the ruling system. The politicization of large number of educated and well meaning youth all over the country has brought forth a highly favourable and positive space for the revolutionary Left having an ideological political clarity to give leadership to the emerging situation in the country. That the present situation has yielded immense possibilities for the genuine, revolutionary Left to advance the program of a people’s alternative and in the process winning over large sections of the progressive and democratic forces in the country. Since the AAP does not have an ideological-political program capable of building up a genuine people’s alternative challenging the rule of capital and the neocolonial order, any delay on the part of the ideologically equipped revolutionary Left to shoulder this task will result in another dangerous situation of the large number of well-meaning youth attracted to politics once again slipping in to despair and frustration.