Thursday, April 27, 2017

What can Arvind Kejriwal do to stop his and AAP's downslide

Yesterday, right from day break, all major news channels were showing results of the Delhi municipal corporation elections. Anyone could be pardoned for mistaking it be the results of national elections or something of such magnitude!

Source: News18/PTI
Focus was a shade greater on the loser (Aam Aadmi Party and its national convener Arvind Kejriwal) than on the winner (Bharatiya Janata Party). For BJP, this is the third consecutive victory. So it wasn't a big deal, in a sense. Imagine if AAP, the ruling party in Delhi Assembly, was able to win. That surely was the aim of Kejriwal. But that was not to be.

After the glorious victory in the Delhi Assembly elections in 2015, AAP contested in assembly elections in Goa and Punjab this year. They lost badly. And now the Delhi municipal corporation. The fact that AAP has been on a losing streak must be giving Kejriwal and its supporters the jitters.

Noble objectives

In 2012, when Kejriwal broke ranks with his mentor Anna Hazare, and joined politics to fight the system from within, he gained a lot of appreciation. That was most evident in the manner in which AAP emerged on top in the Delhi Assembly elections just one year later.

It was the single largest party with 28 seats in the House of 70. Kejriwal formed a minority government with Congress support. Then over the issue of passing the Jan Lok Pal Bill, for which he didn't get support from any major political party, he resigned after being in power for just 49 days.

Elections were held again in 2015; and this time, the people gave him a very clear mandate. AAP won 67 seats, the BJP the rest and Congress was wiped out.

Blinding glare of victory

In retrospect, the massive victory, ironically, proved to be the Achilles heel. Kejriwal misunderstood the verdict to be a green signal to carry on his fight against the system. But actually, what people wanted him to do was to start fixing the broken system.

Unfortunately, Kejriwal, probably, blinded by the glare of victory, just got carried away, as if by inertia, and couldn't simply give up his confrontational approach. He didn't realise that the ease of campaigning had turned into hard grind of governance. He took on the system from within. The system proved to be too gigantic and the problems too hard for him to handle or fix.

One major issue for him was the constitutional structure of the Delhi's administration, which gives a role to the Union government as well, since the city is also the capital of the country. In fact, Delhi isn't a full fledged state and is officially called National Capital Territory of Delhi.

Kejriwal kept fighting with the Lt Governor and attacked the Prime Minister relentlessly. Though he had said he won't contest Lok Sabha elections in 2014, he changed mind, and fought against Modi in Varanasi and lost by over 3 lakh votes. AAP, effectively a regional party in Delhi, contested 432 seats nationwide for the Lok Sabha and won just four. But, the resounding victory he still managed a year later in Delhi assembly elections was a clear message from the people for him to stick to Delhi first.

But, Kejriwal forgot that he was the chief minister of a Union territory. He should have focused on fixing what is wrong in Delhi with the powers he and his party have. Instead he wanted greater powers; and worse, he didn't abandon his confrontational approach. An administrator or a manager can't make much headway if he or she is constantly whining and taking on everyone with whom he or she has work with.

What can he do

The mark of an administrator with the finesse of getting things done, is his ability to move forward through available channels rather get bogged down before obstacles. One rule of thumb often quoted is, when you have ten issues to solve, and you get stuck with three, move ahead with the seven and come back to the three later. But Kejriwal chose to get stuck with the three. And probably he is still paying the price for that.

Kejriwal is meeting his team to discuss what went wrong and how the party can connect back with the people. My few suggestions for him would be:
  • Stop complaining and finding fault with everyone and everything around you
  • Realise that as a chief minister, you are also an enabler and not an obstructor
  • Focus on Delhi and turn it into a model union territory
  • Use the powers you have effectively before craving for more
  • Good to aim high, but not if nothing much gets done
  • Better to lower the aim, get things done; and then raise the level
  • Show you can work effectively even with people whom you don't like and still deliver results
It is still not late for Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party, to realise many, if not all the goals it had set for itself when it entered the political arena.

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  1. Good analysis. I learned a few things about AAP politics today from your post.

  2. Fortunately for the Nation, Kejriwal wont learn. He gets huge funding from foreign Organisations wanting to destroy India through evangelization. Sunch Anti India organisations abroad bribes a whole spectrum of ppl thru NGOs or political donations. Politicians, Social workers, Corrupt Journos like sardesais Barkha etc..and all such Corruptible ppl are purchased. These. Are the people who always talk pseudo secularism. They can b identified by theirAnti Hindu, Anti National Approach. Remember Kejriwal speaking in Paki voice against surgical strikes..and in issue AAP takes stand opposite to the Central Govt and in tune with our enemies. JNUs India ki Barbadi gang got support frm Kejri, the agent if enemies of India. KGB has released ibfo that during 70s and 80s KGB was paying monthly to most Congress and leftist MPs and important leaders. Our so called secular leaders and press are absolutwly Sold out ppl.

    1. This article by Pradeep is so well written, please do not spoil it with such nonsense

    2. I don't think Kejriwal is that bad. He has good ideas. But terribly lacks skills of an administrator as Pradeep has said. Success has gone to his head. That is all.

  3. Being in Delhi for 5 out of the past 10 years, i write as an ordinary but extremely concerned citizen, voluntarily working on ultra-local issues (SWM/environmental). So i'm just sharing my paisa worth.
    It's the voters who have got it wrong this time.
    A party has been dominating MCD for the past 10 years. Since 2014, the same party is in power at the Centre. So there have been plenty of (extra) chances to set Delhi's Right-filled ULBs on the right path and set an example for other ULBs across the country.
    So it's the voters who have shot themselves in the foot. Instead of looking at local and neighbourhood issues, they have mixed up national rhetoric and carefully nurtured perceptions, which is rather unfortunate, but not unexpected, given the average citizen's gullibility to propaganda and the noisy kind of media.
    i look forward reading about similar suggestions written by trusted journalists for other CMs and even the PM... yes, why not?

    1. In complete agreement Latha. Its a 24 by 7 microscope AAP has to work under, and we all seem to want instant miracles

    2. Why so many people think alike during an election hasn't yet been figured out accurately. So we can only make an intelligent guess.

      Quite possibly people got national mixed up with local. Or else logically they would have given AAP the mandate considering they are in power in the UT and also because BJP has been in charge of the ULB for quite a while.

      Indeed there is so much noise in the media (all forms: social and institutional, amateur and professional). You are very right when you say "average citizen's gullibility" - mindless forwards in WhatsApp is one indication of that.

      I am planning to write my thoughts on the PM soon.

  4. "given the average citizen's gullibility to propaganda and the noisy kind of media." So very true.

  5. Pradeep, please see:

    1. Sure. Tks, Latha. Shall go through it.

    2. I read that HT piece. The following sentence in that article pretty much sums up a mood prevalent across the country, not just in Delhi, and I think, at least partly explains BJP's winning streak.

      "Residents of East Delhi said that while both Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and BJP have failed to live up to their expectations, they backed BJP as they hope Prime Minister Narendra Modi will clear the mess and financial crisis in the civic body."

      Two of my friends here who are quite critical of Modi said the same thing.

  6. Pradeep Punjab AAp did exceptionally well. Even in Delhi, u forget the good it has done. Health schools water. Maybe u r too far away to see this good. Yes Kejriwal was foolish to take delhi people for granted. The fact that even today both BJP and Congress see AAP as their prinicipal opponent is a credit to Kejriwal.
    Ur analyses are like victors writing their history of the conquered land!
    Sabu M George

    1. Thank you, Sabu for your views.

      When Kejriwal started off and he won the elections, I was happy that finally a non-politician had made a mark.

      As you know, there have been many attempts by technocrats, academicians and intellectuals to take on the politicians, but none of them really succeeded.

      I thought Kejriwal had a great opportunity to change the political discourse in this country. I think he can still recover.

  7. Well done Pradeep. Very good article, totally unbiased.

  8. Hi Pradeep,

    That is a very comprehensive analysis but what struck me as more interesting is your suggestion for Kejriwal. You said it like a professional Management Guru and I am saying this out of my own experience.

    People of Delhi gave Kejriwal a chance to govern them, not because they trusted him but because they were fed up with the existing system. So as you rightly said, his priority should have been to build his credibility by concentrating on governing Delhi.

    No one likes whiners and he does that a bit too much. Whatever said and done, the government under Mr. Modi is doing and is seen to be doing a lot of things which the earlier government was not doing. This positive perception is overshadowing the negative issues generated by the hardliners of the BJP/RSS and others. So Kejriwal's tirades against Modi is boomeranging on him.

    Managers faced with tough situations cannot be expected to work on consensus but Kejriwal should be open to suggestions and feedback so as to correct his own strategies if needed. He seems to be too rigid or suffering from some paranoia.

    Having said all these, I am not aware of his political compulsions which may be guiding him. Nevertheless I would like him to succeed since I feel AAP as a concept is good and potentially a better alternative to the degenerated Congress.


  9. He is beyond repair.
    Nice try though with those suggestions :)

    1. Hmm... I had lots of hopes when he came on the scene. But he and his team has all messed it up.