A common man’s letter to Arvind Kejriwal

Dear Shri Kejriwal,

Congratulations on AAP’s spectacular victory in the Delhi Assembly elections! This victory has given all common people in India the hope that they can work collectively to change things for the better.

The whole country seems to be hailing AAP as the inventor of ‘alternative politics’. Most people are either unaware or have forgotten that the AAP today closely resembles the BJP when it was founded in 1980. Then, the BJP worker was a volunteer who worked during the day to earn his/her living, and worked for the party outside office hours and on holidays. There were no leaders. Everybody was a party worker, and some were elected office-bearers. All of them were “common men/women”. People joined the BJP to work for the nation and for the party, never for personal gain. They gave the party their time, energy and money, often at the cost of their personal and family commitments, and expected nothing in return. They led simple lives. To give an example, around 50,000 delegates attended the BJP’s first annual session in Mumbai in December 1980. Delegates from outside Mumbai either stayed with their relatives or with friends, or were accommodated in tents at the session venue in Bandra, Mumbai. Nobody, not even the seniormost office-bearers like Mr. A. B. Vajpayee and Mr. L. K. Advani, stayed at posh hotels. Sounds familiar?

However, by 2004, the BJP had become a clone of the post-Independence Congress. Whatever faults can be found with the Congress can also be found with the BJP: corruption, crony capitalism, VIP culture, High Command culture, dynastic politics, etc., etc.

I am sure the Congress in 1947 was also like today’s AAP.

The Congress and the BJP transformed the way they did because, to quote Lord Acton, “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I would go a step further and state that a political party and its members start becoming corrupt when power becomes approachable.

I sincerely appeal to you to remain constantly aware that whatever happened to the Congress and to the BJP can very easily happen to the AAP. One of your immediate and topmost priorities should be to create a set of mechanisms to ensure that power does not corrupt the AAP.

I am sure you, Dr. Yogendra Yadav, Prof. Ajit Jha, Prof. Anand Kumar and other political analysts in the AAP are eminently capable of identifying all risk factors, and that organisational experts in the AAP would be able to create mechanisms to prevent these risk factors from entering the party.

However, I would like to submit the following points for your kind consideration:

1. I hope you understand that corruption starts from the top. If the top leadership, or people close to the top leadership, is perceived to have zero tolerance to corruption, crony capitalism, ostentatiousness, etc., the party and its workers are less likely to become corrupt. However, if the top leadership is perceived to selectively turn a blind eye to corruption, the rank and file of the party gets a signal that corruption is acceptable, provided it is within limits.
For example, no free rides on private jets or helicopters under any circumstances. Also, every substantial donation must be proactively and stringently vetted. Sorry to say this, but when somebody donates Rs. 50 lakhs to you, please ask that person why (s)he is making such a huge donation and ensure that AAP is not compromising itself in any way by accepting such a huge donation. The fact that a donation of Rs. 50 lakhs was made by cheque and was accompanied by a PAN Card photocopy is not enough. AAP must make sure that the donor has earned the money by legal and ethical means, and that the donation is being made without any strings attached.

2a. Be extremely selective while admitting members. The current process allows anybody to join the AAP. Please have a screening process. I would suggest that membership be offered only to those who are recommended by existing office-bearers and/or active members. This may slow down the membership drive, but it will reduce the chances of opportunists joining the party.
2b. Set higher standards for election candidates than for members. ‘Winnability’ is extremely important, but it is less important than ‘cleanliness’.
2c. Set even higher standards for office-bearers and for ministers.
2d. Be extremely selective about alliances, electoral understandings, endorsements, outside support, etc.

3a. Be aggressive in your efforts, but be patient about results. There is a very heavy price to be paid for shortcuts. Be prepared for the fact that your noble goals may not be fully achieved during your lifetime. Please develop a second line of leadership, and create a process of continuous leadership development.
3b. Please develop the organisation in a state before you contest elections there. Elections can be won in Arvind Kejriwal’s name, but Arvind Kejriwal will not be part of the state’s government.

4. Avoid populism. Freebies win elections, but they also make the Aam Aadmi lazy. Remember the words of Rosalynn Carter: “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.”

I apologise for having taken up much of your valuable time, and I thank you for having patiently read this communication.

Your admirer and well-wisher,

Proactive Indian

(Sent by email from proactiveindian@rediffmail.com to contact@aamaadmiparty.org)

8 thoughts on “A common man’s letter to Arvind Kejriwal

  1. It was indeed great that a maverick party such as AAP in its first electoral venture gained such a mandate to rule. It remains to be seen how many of the projects in their election manifesto they will actually succeed in while reducing the revenue with free water and power at half existing rate.

  2. It is a good victory but SADLY I also heard the speech given by Mr kejriwal when he took the oath and sadly it was not as it was a few years back when he too the oath. Maybe he has become Politically intelligent after the last debacle , and i genuinly hope he sticks to the party promises else I doubt if he will ever get another chance..

    Although I am looking forward to the 2017 general elections now as I know for sure that if keriwal and his people govern good for the next two years we will surly have a different political scene come 2017… and some of the states like Punjab will benefit a lot where AAP already has some MP’s..

    although hearing about how kejriwal wants a bigger house and a red light atop his car etc etc is somewhat disheartening , this was made him popular earlier refusing all that and ACTUALLY wanting to WORK.

    fingers crossed it is too early to say anything just yet

  3. I think this post should go viral on social media so that AAP actually takes note of it and follows it fully. I don’t think AAP won because of the lame promises it made of free Wi-Fi etc, but because of Kiran Bedi doing a Rahul Gandhi for it (Exactly the way Rahul Gandhi ‘contributed’ in Modi’s win, similarly Kiran has). I hope Kejriwal governs rationally and honestly and thinks from the Delhi’s perspective than from AAP’s election agenda only.

  4. Great letter ! I had used that quote recently while discussing corruption and Indian politics … did not know it was by Lord Acton. I think we should slowly start shedding the commonly accepted negative outlook on Indian politics and start looking for positive changes. While it is going to be a slow transformation people need to remember JFK’s quote ‘ask not what your country can do for you .. ask what YOU can do for YOUR country’ ! Also if we entrusted him to give us good governance, we should ensure he has the right level of security and not throw caution to the winds given the maniacal times we live in. AK who may be 47 would need some AK-47’s to guard him (pun intended) as long as he is in that position so he does not do a JFK.

  5. Pingback: Reply from AAP to “A common man’s letter to Arvind Kejriwal” | Proactive Indian

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