The need for a clean third force in Indian politics was acutely felt.
But the real loss is that of civil society. AAP emerged, legitimately or otherwise, from the womb of Anna Hazare’s famous anti-corruption movement.
The nation was being rocked during UPA rule by scams running into thousands of crores. The Bofors scam, which pulled down the Rajiv Gandhi government, looked like a parking offence compared to these mega scams. The middle class was rapidly and understandably, losing faith in the then ruling Congress and the Opposition, both of whom appeared to have compromised.
In such a scenario the formation of the non-partisan India Against Corruption appeared to be a legitimate and welcome development with Anna Hazare as its mascot. At last civil society had found a pan India platform to voice its disgust with not only wholesale corruption but also with the entire gamut of political culture rooted in graft. At last cynicism was beginning to give way to idealism. Businessmen and NRIs who were deeply concerned about the gross distortion of democracy backed Anna and the IAC with alacrity. Kejriwal emerged as the second mascot of the anti- graft movement.
Eventhough some persons, including Anna, were opposed to Kejriwal’s move to form a party to fight the elections, the decision was by and large welcomed by civil society as a necessary move to create an opposition to the politics of plunder. The need for a clean third force in Indian politics was acutely felt.
But in a short spell, Kejriwal dashed all hopes. He turned out to be yet another power-hungry politico with hardly any redeeming features. In his craze for autocratic power he packed his party with several uncertified charlatans despite warnings from well wishers.
Little wonder then that the AAP has been given a severe thrashing in the civic polls. One hopes it’s time to write the epitaph of this party and its crude leader. But I hope this does not mark the end of civil society activism.