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Third option


With the political scene hotting up in various ways, dissenters, malcontents, frustrated ‘leaders’ are among those threatening to take the ‘third option’ – another term for the Aam Aadmi Party. It seems that in the minds of some, the AAP has become a ladder to high positions depending on how early one climbs on to the band wagon. Naturally, this poses a threat to the basic ideology of the party, which is striving to provide an alternative to just this sort of opportunistic politics. It is a good thing, in fact, that in Delhi the lone JD(U) legislator was denied entry into the party by Kejriwal.

The party is looking to expand its membership but it cannot induct the very elements who belong to the culture it wishes to end. As such, while the ‘aam aadmi’ should be welcomed with open arms, those with political aspirations should be looked at very carefully. The party needs to consider the ‘baggage’ they bring with them – whether it is positive or negative.

There is no doubt that the common people have great hopes of the AAP movement, but if it has to grow in the expected direction it has to do so on the shoulders of those whose track record is clean and have something to bring to the table. The AAP cannot become a vehicle for the ventilation of personal grievances and settling of scores.

There has always been space for a third force in Uttarakhand politics. It has, however, been very inadequately filled. Particularly, as the Uttarakhand movement was apolitical in nature – political activists were asked to leave their ‘jhanda’ behind, as also the ‘danda’ (be committed to non-violence). After the state’s formation, the cadre of the two national parties returned to the fold and what remained was quickly side-tracked with the promise of pensions and jobs. It is a sad fact that all the symbols and principles of the statehood movement are only evoked these days to further the pecuniary cause of former agitationists. It is no wonder, then, they have not been taken seriously by any government.

It is, therefore, necessary for AAP to articulate its vision for the state before its agenda is confused with the clamour of these disparate groups. The third option represents not this motley lot, but the aspirations of the countless ordinary people who find themselves ‘ruled’ by persons that do not represent their cause. These people potentially represent the majority waiting to be tapped by those who can speak their language and understand their needs.

In the larger scheme of things, Uttarakhand has only 5 Lok Sabha seats to contribute. Its self-image perhaps suffers as a result. It isn’t likely to throw up leaders of national consequence. It has to stake claim to a different kind of leadership – modern, state of the art governance that raises not just the per capita income, but also the quality of life well above the national average. The leaders of the two ‘national’ parties are focused only on using the state as a stepping stone to a role at the Centre. The field of action, however, is in Uttarakhand, which is ignored in the process. A third force with a future vision that provides the state a ‘competitive’ edge, rather than take it into an ‘isolationist’, subsistence existence, would find many takers.