Published on March 13th, 2014 | by Sandeep Patil


The Aam Adami Paradox

It’s difficult to be against AAP, and it’s even more difficult to be on the side of AAP. The former because of the sheer concept, the spirit, the spontaneity of it – the later because its execution, or rather abuse.

This is very common in life – that noble ideas take root in social life and as they start taking shape they start loosing their very soul, the very principle they had stood for. In the end they become a burden like a dead corpse. It happens at all levels, all fields – same pattern everywhere. There comes news of floods, cyclones, earthquakes and the calamity that follows. People make donations to the relief funds in their capacity. Months later the problem of rehabilitation remains but comes the news of relief fund scam. The very idea of helping fellow humans in distress is outright killed! We read about announcement of IPL, India’s grand Premier League, we say yes – we will make a statement to the world now, what we get to see instead is Tamasha full with scams, betting, loss of ministry and a possible murder! In the beginning of last decade, started coming the news of India on the way of becoming Software giant. The Indian software engineers reached every nook of the world, creating a reputation of their own. In the process we saw rise and rise of new Indian Software Multinationals. A decade later we find that the giant cannot think beyond customer satisfaction, cannot drop its service mindset – and the Software Multinationals which were once expected to give world some new ideas (like Facebook, Twitter, i-Pod etc.) are thinking of innovative ways of cost cutting in order to increase their profit margin! People simply shrug and go back to their businesses. The list is long, but pattern is same – there rises a wave and cannot sustain itself at its peak, so falls invariably.

The Janlokpal (JLP) – people’s movement

But then something different started happening 3-4 years ago. The small, tiny, unnoticeable droplets started coming together – fast, rapid, in masses. Their existence had long been forgotten. They themselves were oblivious of the existence of others, they themselves didn’t know together they would rise so high, roar so loud, and and even change the directions of wind – but they did come together nevertheless. The result took the whole country to storm, what the world saw as the Janlokpal Andolan (JLP). It was spearheaded by Anna Hazare. But anybody (of course with certain credibility) would have done. The agitation was for passing the Janlokpal bill. But any valid excuse would have sufficed. Because the people were fed up of the system! More than that they did not have anybody to listen them. Not the rulers of course; but even the opposition seemed only engaged in proxy war with the ruling party. Media? Either they were owned by politicians, or were dependent on them for their revenues (from Ads or paid-news – whatever), and then there was TRP (which was found in ample amount in Abhishek-Aishwarya wedding, or Deepika Padukone’s relationships). Courts? Well, its beyond a common man’s reach and capacity. The rulers had thus pocketed all important pieces, sealed all the exits for the common man. There began the suffocation of the ordinary – he wanted to retaliate somehow… anyhow, and along came the Janlokpal agitation. One tiny outlet to vent your anger, your plight against the rulers, the system. Many hadn’t heard about Anna Hazare before yet they flaunted “mein bhi Anna” caps on their heads; many started reading about the idea of Lokpal (Ombudsman) later than they started participating the movement. Anna and Janlokpal was secondary, people’s anger and restlessness was primary.

The movement sustained all the tactics of the rulers be it power or deceit, woke up the opposition from their hibernation, claimed the prime-time of media and made the whole parliament dance on people’s tunes (though for a short while). This was the success of the movement – and there started the danger!!!

Leadership crisis

For success and sustainability of a people’s initiative like Janlokpal – two things are extremely important – the participation of people and the leadership. Only one cannot make it to the end, both are needed. Just one Shivaji, one Gandhiji or one Subhash Babu couldn’t have done it without his followers who laid their lives for the cause of the leader. At the same time a leaderless act of people subsides sooner or later – like the First war of Independence in 1857. The leader stands for the very cause, the people are fighting for. He is the embodiment of it, he is the force that makes people get up and fight for. That is why leader’s integrity is extremely important, because it is the integrity of the very cause. And no mass movement can stand, if the cause is defeated, if it’s integrity suffers!

Now the movements may begin first with leader and later on his followers joining him; or it may be started first by people in due time finding their leader; or both more or less simultaneously – but in any case they both are mutual to each other. Coming back to Janlokpal, it started primarily as people’s movement, and like the people came in from all directions, so did the leaders. The collective leadership then, that happened more in matter of fact way consisted of many heterogeneous people like Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejariwal, Bhushan duo, Kiran Bedi, Baba Ramdev and many more guest appearances. The success of Janlokpal gave rise to potential danger, because like in any win the credit went to this collective leadership which was more of an accident.

The JLP, the AAP and real common man

The version 2 of Janlokpal was our beloved Aam Aadami Party. But now the erstwhile leadership of Janlokpaal was more or less sent home, starting from Anna himself. That leaves Kejariwal primarily as the heir of all the achievements and goodwill of people. There is no wonder that people have such hopes from Kejariwal, because he is the one now who reflects people’s triumph and hope that they got primarily during Janlokpal. He himself has to be credited for this, because he made a political party capitalizing on the fresh memoirs of Janlokpal, he successfully eliminated his rivals from the top post and most importantly he kept the momentum all these years. The AAP decides to contest Delhi Assembly Elections.

Mr. Kejriwal at the center-stage

Arvind_KejriwalHere begins the second part, where the concepts, the causes start taking shape. The hope of common man – that one such common man among us would sit on the CM chair – had been finally looked in sight. The common man had dreamed enough, now he was going to open his eyes and see his dream in reality. This is where the integrity of the leadership, his commitment to the people’s cause comes into picture. And there lies the key… at first place the common man looks at Kejariwal as an answer to all their hitherto problems, because the JLP movement was actually stood not just for JLP but for all the problems of common man!!! If JLP is the answer, be it! If bringing black money back is the answer, be it!! So Kejriwal, though can really claim authority mainly on Janlokpal, yet sooner than expected became a possible solution of all the problems. An honest person here would have tried to clear this confusion, or at least should have taken his time before trying to address other problems of common man. And solving their problem requires time, patience, understanding and experience  – but Kejriwal is an ambitious man. He capitalizes on the hope and faith of the common man – he makes all kinds of promises to the Delhi electorate – from inquiring Sheila Dixits’ corruption cases to free water, electricity or whatever. Of course making promises is one thing, keeping them is another. But Mr. Kejriwal is yet to come there.

The most critical moment

The elections are over, AAP gets an impressive seat share, directly catapulting Mr. Kejriwal to the Delhi CM’s throne. This is the most important time – these are the critical moments when the weight shifts from the people to their leader. The people do their job and now it is their leader’s turn – to reaffirm the faith of his people, to show his integrity to the cause and thereby the integrity of the cause itself, to live for their ideal and if needed to die for it – for the ideal is above all. Jesus has to get crucified. Shivaji has to risk everything achieved in last 10-15 years and fight a duel with an enemy double his size, Afzhalkhan – either to kill or to be killed. Bhagat Singh has to take a ‘strategic decision’ of himself throwing the bomb in assembly, which would ensure his way to the gallows! These are the make or break situations for the leaders, they have to go through it, time and again – no substitute, no bypass.

So comes that moment for Kejariwal too – the moment of delivering his promises. Although it’s not a live or die situation for him, yet he is no short of challenges. But who isn’t? This is where integrity of an individual (if he has any at first place) comes into play. When Shri. Lal Bahadur Shastri was PM of India, we were on one side fighting with Pakistan and on other side with food scarcity. Two of the most severe problems for a nation – Security crisis and Food crisis! And what kind of solution he comes with against the food problem! A solution which many would find bizarre, many management books would rather not speak about it, and many of the gen-next guys would find it out of the world – but he did. He requested his countrymen to observe one day fast in week – and very very few leaders had that kind of authority to make such request to his people. The authority that comes from one’s character, one’s integrity, one’s sincerity to his task. And people obliged – not just obliged, some of them followed it as a rule for their entire life.

So the point is, in demanding situations also a leader of character, honesty and sincerity can find his way out – for his very virtues in such situation can get the best out of his people. But when Mr. Kejriwal is made CM of Delhi, instead of thinking of people’s problems, he thinks of escaping them. In nearly two months time, he runs away without any worthwhile reason. The common man was going to rule for next 5 years, but in mere 2 months everything was over. (Of course, the common man has not been told so, he has been shown some bigger dreams and given new promises)

The reasons behind his exit, his future strategies and who stands to gain from them etc. has been enough discussed in the columns and blogs. For me, the Kejriwal story ends here. When CM Kejriwal resigned from his post, people’s Kejriwal ended and politician Kejriwal started.


It has been quite some time since Kejriwal has resigned, and there have been new developments happening ever since (literally) every day. The post resignation story is not of much importance to me – when it was doomed to be failed, it will – one way or the other. (Many would like to disagree here about ‘doomed to be failed’, but to the least they can concede the ‘runaway bride’ job of Kejriwal)

What is more important to me is, what I have explained in the very beginning of this article. That is, why do the initiatives started with people’s goodwill, faith and hope normally end up in disaster, disappointment? The answer would largely lie in the leadership, that is the leadership failing to do it’s duties, or taking undue advantage of people’s faith. But then again the leaders also come from the people. So, what do the people miss about their leaders? Well, to me certain points have repeatedly occurred.

  1. In the beginning, trying to frame opinions about the leader based on insufficient information. e.g. Manmohan Singh is a person of great honesty and integrity. When he became PM, nobody knew really why it was so, but everyone assumed.
  2. When the leaders gain popularity, becoming either completely for or against the leader/party. The tendency to see the leaders in black or white rather than shades of gray. Best example – Narendra Modi followers vs. haters
  3. Unwillingness to reassess opinions about their leaders from time to time. Once good is forever good and vice versa. e.g. Justification of AAP by it’s followers, although the party’s behavior has been questionable on more than one occasion

Hopefully this post leads the readers to think of their leaders in more pragmatic way and less romantic way – thereby putting more thought to the process of Elections and saving himself from the future disappointments.


About the Author

God knows why but I have too many interests. So chances are that you and me have something in common. Let’s see… Patanjali? Chanakya? Romans? Vijaynagar? Shivaji? Renaissance? Vivekanand? Agatha Christie? Tagore? Hitchcock? S.D.Burman? Cary Grant? Satyajit Ray? Grace Kelly? Brucia la terra? Suchitra Sen? Roman Holiday? Vasantaro Deshpande? Robert de Niro? Malguena? Kishore Kumar? Osho? Hotel California? Smita Patil? Erich von Daniken? Pu La? GA? Andaz Apna Apna? Asha Bhosale? PVN Rao? … Watch this space, sooner or later you will something on similar topic

8 Responses to The Aam Adami Paradox

  1. Pingback: We, They … and He | Mindblogs ...Zero, Infinity and in between

  2. Undecided says:

    Having known you from past and followed your posts on different social media I was tempted to post my opinion here.
    Politics during elections time becomes more exciting for us due to its similarity witih Sports because we want “our” side (whether BJP or AAP) to win and form very strong opinions because of our personalities and with some media help.

    First, I do not agree with your assessment that Kejriwal “becomes” a politician from a “peoples Kejriwal”. He has been a politician from the time he started Janlokpal Bill.
    He not only admits it, but he maintains that playing clean politics is a means to achieve the larger goal of corruption free and prosperous India.
    Of course quitting Delhi CM post is a political gamble, for a larger goal (of a prosperous country).
    He was aware that his government was gonna fall sometime sooner or later, why not leave on his own terms, instead of the opposition (BJP/Cong). He is also of the opinion if Delhi elections happen soon he can still win and form the govt.

    “Economically Conservatively viable incentives” for poor.
    In hindsight, JanLokpall Bill movement was essentially orchestrated by Kejriwal, by using all possible tools(electronic/print media, social media etc), resources (common man) and mainly props (Anna Hazare, Kiran Bedi etc).
    It doesn’t appear without his brillian IITian mind it would have been even possible.

    I am close to your age and have been following politics very passionately for the last 30 years (even before Indira Gandhi’s death) and I have never been as excited as now with AAP and Arvind Kejriwal than with any other individual/party in the past.
    I have watched almost all his recent interviews and read whatever I can about him (from recent as well as past, from both pro and opposite), and I have hardly found anything that might make anyone doubt his character (exclude political actions) or honesty. Of course I am open to reading more credible sources which project him in negative light and reconsider my opinions about his leadership.
    I am not claiming he doesn’t obfuscate the truth and play with words, but in the domain of politics those are the tools one must be able use to grow up to be successful.
    Yes, Kejriwal is ambitious too, but isn’t it almost paradoxical that where one who works in the field of Charity, is expected to have the qualities of humility, subservient, passive; here we have a man who comes from the field of Charity (having been in RTI for 10+ years) is ambitious and aggressive (for himself and the country). Thats what makes him very exciting personally.

    Although I have my share (small) of complaints (with some justifications) against AAP:
    1) Providing 50% subsidy for non-paying electicity users (although it was clearly part of their manifesto).
    2) Kejriwal meeting fanatic maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan, who had issued fatwa against Taslima Nasreen (although claimed by Kejriwal he wasn’t aware of fatwa, and unfortunately personally I dont see how else can a party get Muslim votes, nevertheless AAP should try to avoid this in future)
    3) Kejriwal’s almost dictatorship style of AAPs internal politics ( but this could be due to lack of smarter leaders and might improve over time)
    4) Saying all corrupt media should be in jail ( although I believe he was emotionally too charged and did not expect (naively) a private dinner speech would be recorded )

    From Media (From Rahul Kanwal and likes) the only major scam by AAP, that could be found was about Somnath Bharti, claiming to be a spammer some 10 years back. As if it matters more than lakhs of crores of rupees being looted by corrupt politicians and businessmen or killing of thousands of people in communal riots.

    A long response can be written to all other allegations which have no merit/basis in my opinion, but you might as well find them on internet.

    We (wise political followers) are clearly aware that Kejriwal uses media as a ‘tool’ to propogate his idea of guiding the country to a better future while the opposition (all paid media) tries to plant bogus stories of how AAP is bad () to limit its political rise.

    Personally I am still of the opinion that Manmohan Singh is/was honest but lacked the political capacity to contain corruption and on the other side Narendra Modi (more or less next PM) I would like to believe is indeed an able administrator and will take India to a progressive path while limiting corruption (not as confident though) and avoiding communalism (for the sake of his own legacy)

    However, anyone who understands and follows politics closely will clearly admit that due to the emergence and success of AAP, the Central Lokpal Bill was passed (although pretty much useless) in the parliament in a hurry in December 2013. The same AAP was the reason BJP was forced to give nomination to mostly clean candidates in Delhi elections and select Harshvardhan (instead of Vijay Goel) as its CM candidate. I would say thats a great start.
    Imagine if AAP can do the same at national level (agree didnt happen in this round of Lok Sabha elections), wouldn’t India be a better country? Just 20-40 MPs in Lok Sabha can create enough noise (with their Dharna politics 🙂 ) that doing bigger scams (like telecom, Coal etc) will almost become very difficult for the politicians.

    We need a party like AAP to prosper for better India.

  3. Nice analysis, good language, good description but a bit too long to continue reading in a fast moving cyberspace. Do keep writing. You have it in you!

  4. Sandeep says:

    1. They should have waited for Congress to blink first – had they gone up opening the corruption cases of Sheila Dixit, Congress would have been forced to withdraw support. And had BJP not extended support in that case, BJP would have become pro-corruption.

    2. I don't understand AAP's idea of fighting LS elections so aggressively this time – this time they could have rather (in my opinion) focused on getting a few very very good candidates chosen – say 10-20.

    It's not a joke for a political party to contest India wide LS elections within a year of its' formation. Don't understand this jumpy game of first winning Delhi, then sacrificing Delhi and going for nationwide polls where actually they don't stand much chance. I would have really expected them to concentrate on core 20-30 seats with really well reputed candidates (what Kejriwal liked to call eminent citizens) – that would have been quite some beginning

    • Undecided says:

      1. Apparently the whole system was too complex, and it was taking longer (than available time) to open detailed corruption case against Sheila Dixit and AAP was aware that to enjoy immunity Sheila Dixit would be given Governorship. Guess what! She becomes a Governor even before serious cases are filed against her. Waiting any longer in the government wasn’t of much help, so creating their own narrative and using JanLokPal to resign was the best thing. They are certainly hoping to come back elected soon. Time will decide if their plans materialize!

      2. About fighting LS elections, at the current rate AAP themselves are expecting to win only between 10-20 (conservatively, although publicly they might claim 100 which obviously won’t happen). For such a large party to form roots throughout the country including rural areas, it is important that it gain as much publicity throughout India as possible (and Arvind Kejriwal alone with constantly being in media and #Nautanki as some would call it can only do so much.) Elections are the best way for it to be known throughout the country and win whatever percentage of votes as possible so that they can plan well for next LS elections (which won’t happen anytime sooner than 5 years). Without being cynical, all sides can admit they have put the best effort to get honest politicians to file the nominations (though some may come out later as corrupt, like Binny etc).

      I think AAP and its core team are lot smarter than what we give them credit for.
      Look at the strategy they have devised and executed successfully in Delhi elections:
      * Soliciting for only 20crores rupees funds and then stopped taking funds when reaching that limit.
      * Even those funds were taken after verifying each individuals credentials ( to whatever extent ) * Trying to follow some sort of “primary” elections to select candidates for Delhi elections ( they claimed they didn’t have time to do the same for LS 2014 elections )
      * Cancel nomination of candidate if found to be corrupt (Surendra Sharma from Delhi Shahdara assembly constituency was cancelled, this meant no AAP candidate for that seat as it was past nomination date) and they already cancelled tickets for few LS 2014 candidates when corruption cases were found
      * Using committed grass roots AAP workers for campaigning door to door
      * Using Call Citizen campaigns (calling citizens on phone, even from USA/UK)
      * Mohalla Sabhas had started 18 months before elections
      * Working with very limited budget very efficiently in comparison to BJP and Congress.
      * In spite of being entirely blacked out by media ( because of naming Mukesh Ambani in 2012 ) they managed to win 28 seats in Delhi elections.
      * Opinion polls didn’t give them any chance ( although we can claim opinion polls were corrupt, but perhaps lack of over-publicity was a factor )

      I understand the general impression that they have hastily jumped into LS 2014 elections, but then AAP and core team probably thinks New Delhi is already in the pocket and get as many seats as possible (like I said above between 10-20) so that they can start planning for LS 2019.

  5. Sandeep says:

    Thank you for the kind words, Rajesh.
    I sincerely wish that the hope of AAP stays alive, and some good people get chosen this time. Since AAP has been already branded as 'anti-corruption' party, they would have to live up to their brand in next years and I hope they unearth some serious cases.
    Coming LS would be very important for AAP and its' direction. And there are some good individuals working more or less alone – like Loksatta party in AP, Raju Shetty, Bachhu Kadu in Maha. – AAP with some credibility can bring them all under its' umbrella. But for that first they have put their house in order

  6. noble says:

    You miss the larger picture Sandeep.
    1) You clearly know that the marriage of AAP+Congress is not possible. It is a divorce decided before the marriage. The politics of adjustment is not AAP stood for. The idea of co-opting is to corrupt the very movement. People have the choice of giving a full mandate or they will get what they deserve

    2) India is a nation where most of the powers vest with the centre. The state must do all the work but all the goodies are distributed from Delhi. The point is, a general election is coming and you clearly know it is going to be a bunch of thugs who is going to get voted. What are the choices in fighting this election. Appealing to the very intelligent elite ? who are few in numbers and who may not even vote? Or should they play to the gallery where most of the seats are decided.Do you know that w/o the autowallahs AAP would have been nowhere near the power. .It is very easy to idealize sitting in front of the computer . You won't be there to even criticize AAP when they have lost. Then , you will stop writing because the new masters won't even care about your criticisms and we would have given up hope

    “perfect is the enemy of good”

  7. Rajesh Patil says:

    Nice article Sandeep.
    Keep writing.
    In my profession when we see a greatly designed and badly executed job,we use the phrase” Details are lost in execution”. Is this something you mean?
    If yes, we always belive Details (design) are much more important than execution, execution can be changed (refurbished) or in second attempt it will get right what you need is the Benchmark design.
    I still think the parameter applied to judge AAP are grossly diffeent than to judge others. The Netizens are making so much of noise if there is a small tactical failure with AAP and are happy (or in no comment mode infact some in justification) when they see BJP DMK LJP and INC RJD &likes in coalition. Again elections are for the people by the people if People want to get served (treated) one by one by INC / BJP in centre or SP BSP, DMK, AIADMK, NCP , SS, in state its their choice, when one partner goes from one alliance to other, will it make a chnage to the ruling (approach) whoever comes in power? i believe AAP and likes should come in decisive minority if not majority to get some transperancy in the system otherwise after few months of election all the great parties and the admirers will see the same nexus of people ruling again and practically no change in approach (which everyone is fade up of), one has to admit atleast on paper till date ther is no corruption, black money, criminal background issue with AAP and thats why they are not growing that fast, if they accept people with some grey shades they would have grown much faster, the grey shades guys are so poweful they can easily grab attention create mass following but AAP is on its own base, the followers are not bought out they LOOK genuine.
    And in my constituency (Navi Mumbai) the ruling MP is friends friend and the opposition candidate is from my home town, friends uncle, lets see if AAP can really file a candidate and make me think twice before i vote, if they do so, i think its the first win and the second will be the result!!!

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