Sweeping the Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections and then grabbing 13 per cent of the vote share in Gujarat have put a fresh gust of wind into the AAP’s sails. It has become eligible for national party status, it has decided to contest all the seats in the upcoming Rajasthan elections, and Arvind Kejriwal seems to be already polishing his prime ministerial ambitions.
One has watched the AAP’s rise with a degree of anticipation because the absence of a strong opposition is a matter of deep concern for anyone invested in India’s democratic credentials, and any party that can don that role against a monolith sworn to wiping out everything in its path deserves our attention.
But even as the AAP gains more wins, one notices that Arvind Kejriwal is quick to throw overboard any ideological ballast that threatens to slow down his party’s rise. This is cause for concern. It would be a pale pretence of an opposition indeed that will not see the deep ethical flaws in a ruling party’s decisions nor be willing to call out communal dog-whistling and discrimination when they occur nor, indeed, be willing to speak up in the face of extreme injustice.
To insist that political parties be shorn of hypocrisy is to ask for a mythical creature, but to ask for a political credo is the very least one can demand. The AAP has not shown us its credo yet. To helm two of India’s most powerful States and not yet be able or willing to reveal its governing philosophy is quite something. Whether it points to the AAP’s debility or to the BJP’s might is as yet unclear.
As the old year draws the curtains and retires, Frontline analyses this new sun rising in Delhi.
And while doing so we make a few wishes. That the phrase “lesser of the two evils” will not become the reigning sentiment behind 2023’s choices. That we will magically be able to usher in an era of responsible politics that puts its weight behind all communities and classes and tribes and castes that make up India. That India will become less polarised and more compassionate. That every decision we take will recall the face of the poorest and the weakest Indian. And that we will stop mistaking bullying for strength, mania for conviction, and empty vanities for a life lived fully.
I thank the stellar team at Frontline for putting in their best fortnight after fortnight. Without them, the magazine would not be possible. And I wish them a wonderful new year filled with even more chai-biskut.
And to our readers, thank you for your unstinting support. You make good journalism possible at a time when populist journalism is so much easier. For you, we will always go that extra mile.