The massive victory of the Aam Admi Party (AAP) in the Delhi elections has brought a curious mix of readings and reactions. While observers note how its success was secured by a huge swell of support from the city’s poor, AAP leaders insist on their ‘all class’ appeal. If at all a class angle is admitted, they hasten to clarify that it is free from ‘class struggle’. The ‘common man’ (aam admi) increasingly takes on the avatar of the savarna middle class in its leaders post election discourse as they dream of positioning it as THE future all India party of the centre. Its concerns are middle class. Its responses and solutions are middle class. Yet it is now tasked with administering a part of the Indian state, which definitely is not middle class.
The wisdom of becoming realistic will in due course stifle the romanticism of that conveniently vague sense of justice belonging to its core, class, constituency and replace it with the hard headed logic of serving the powers that be; the poor be dammed. Secrets coming out from squabbles among its leaders indicate that this won’t be long in coming. This is not the first time this was seen. It certainly won’t be the last either. Even then, AAP’s victory should be taken note of for several reasons. The drubbing given to the BJP has, in its severity, given a new breath to the opposition, both outside and inside that party. Among them, the internal one demands keen notice. We will be seeing the contention of Modi, now ‘secular’, with what is being cleverly posed as fringe elements of the fascist Parivar. Thus, with a lead butcher of minorities himself anointed the protector of ‘secularism’, the terms of discourse itself is being shifted dangerously closer to the Sangh’s core theme of Brahmanic fascism.
AAP’s victory is notable in the total absence of any such awareness among the parliamentary parties, jubilant over the BJP’s defeat and the victory of their version of ‘secularism’. The AAP in fact lends itself to the furthering of the Parivar’s overall designs when it gloats over its apparent success in smothering all dalit, minority, gender dialogues with a single voice, that of a ‘citizenry’. The distance from here to the unifacial Hindu the Parivar seeks to impose is not very far. The AAP is posed and seen by some as alternative politics. Not in the sense of being opposed to the existing parliamentary paradigm, but as a different way of working it out, and thus, as an alternate to revolutionary Maoist politics. It is, at times, characterised as an example of a new type of movement emerging all over the world that is not bent on overthrowing capitalism, but rather seeks to expand its space, to force it to be more inclusive and live up to its foundational promises of ‘equality, fraternity and justice’.
Conveniently forgotten in this idealisation is a minor fact of history — the struggle to realise equality and justice, even on the terms of the capitalist system, extends all the way back to its origins. Universal suffrage, that most hailed attribute of the parliamentary system, is itself a product of such struggle. The space of capitalism has been continuously widened. One may expect even more, even while that space is structured, increasingly, by an all pervasive fascisisation of state and society, now legitimised as necessary to safeguard the ‘freedoms’ of capitalism.
However, despite all those struggles, despite the partial gains achieved over centuries, we live in a world where the richest 1 per cent own 48 per cent of the world’s wealth and 80 per cent have to do with just 5.5; not to speak of the indignity of living out lives under multiple relations of oppression and discrimination. Can we settle for less, when these horrors demand nothing less than a thoroughgoing revolution? Indeed, why settle for less?