Leadership Crisis Afflicts AAP

Ironically, internal crisis within Aam Admi Party (AAP) adds strength to the point that this party displayed a major success in Delhi assembly elections primarily because communal tension provoked in several areas prompted voters to strategically decide their vote. They voted against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and were well aware that a few seats won by Congress would not be politically advantageous. Voters’ strategic planning helped AAP secure a landslide win. Sadly, politically, the party and its members appear to be extremely immature. Had these members amiably resolved their internal differences quietly, the situation would not have virtually been reduced to the stage of street fighting among them. Certainly, this party is new to Indian politics as it was founded only some three years ago. But leading members of this party, Arvind Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, however, cannot be viewed as political novices though till a few years ago, these leaders primarily played the part of being political critics. There is a major difference between criticising politics as an outsider and in joining the fray as a politician. Though there is nothing surprising about a new  party facing teething problems, AAP leaders were not expected to indulge in malicious politicking of this nature. With each passing day, internal crisis is proving to be more damaging for AAP.

The manner in which internal bickering has been displayed, prompts one to say that politics is not a kid’s game and AAP leaders should have refrained from behaving like rowdy children bullying each other. Indeed it is pathetic that the very founder members of this party, who played a key role in helping it achieve success in Delhi assembly elections, have displayed little concern for a split in their ranks caused by rift among them.

Just a few months ago, soon after the landslide victory of AAP in Delhi assembly elections, expectations were raised about this party spreading its base in other parts of the country. Now, cracks within the party have forced those who voted for AAP to deliberate on whether they really took the right decision. This has also numbed chances of AAP tasting success in other states as it did in Delhi. Chaotic drama within AAP has forced voters to question its credibility. They are wondering whether a party that cannot control its internal crisis, manage a state government?   

Sadly, AAP is giving the impression of losing the second chance it has secured to run the Delhi state government. The party should be giving more time to handle this responsibility than let it be wasted by displaying its dirty linen in public. Little concern has been displayed for who is likely to gain most from AAP’s internal crisis. Rivals of this party are enjoying its chaotic drama as not just entertainment but the fact that they and their parties are likely to gain most from self-inflicted damages caused by AAP leaders. Till sometime back, the same rivals, stunned by AAP’s amazing success in Delhi polls, were nervous about challenges this party may pose for them in coming days.

Certainly, no party is above board regarding differences within its ranks. It may be recalled that just ahead of parliamentary elections, several senior leaders of BJP were not too pleased at their being sidelined by the incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Yet, rather than throw their tantrums around in public, they chose to be quiet and let Modi-wave dominate the electoral campaign. Their decision proved to be a wise one.

Unfortunately, key founders of AAP have not given much thought to quietly resolve their differences in due course of time. It seems that each one of these leaders is most concerned about one issue. And that is, who should be regarded as the key player in AAP? Whose voice should be viewed as most important? Neither of these leaders wishes to be considered a second fiddle in a party of their making. Rather than remain silent and give time for the party to start taking care of Delhi government, they have given greater importance to make themselves heard. If they had not fought openly about their differences, they would not have been probably accorded much importance in media. So, to make their own loud voices heard, they have cared little for cracks that their infighting may cause to AAP.

In times of such crisis, real leadership of key party members is put to test. Rather than allow internal differences weaken the party, leaders’ primary role is to ensure unity and strength of their team. If needed, the main leader allows his voice to remain in the background in an attempt to give dissenting voices greater importance. But none of the founder members of AAP, including Kejriwal, have risen to the occasion as a true leader. This party is afflicted by a severe leadership crisis. And if party members do not awake to this reality soon, prospects of AAP heading for greater political heights are doomed!   

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 16-30 April 2015 on page no. 11

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