It will be interesting to see how many votes the Aam Aadmi Party will get in the Uttarakhand Assembly Elections; also, in Goa. Both of these states have the reputation of being more sophisticated in their attitude to life owing to higher literacy rates and quality of life. Are the existing social and economic systems in these states inclusive or do they leave out sections that would form an underbelly for the AAP to target? Have the issues that led to the formation of a separate Uttarakhand run their course? Are a new variety of grievances causing resentment among the people? Have the challenges of present day life diminished the sense of community that has traditionally existed, particularly in the hills?
All of this would need to have happened for AAP to make an impact. And how much would this ‘third’ presence impact upon the BJP and Congress votebanks? Are promises of free electricity, job guarantees and, the latest, state-sponsored pilgrimage for elder citizens the kind of governance people would like to have? What level of naiveté is a voter required to have to fall for such a sales pitch?
It may be recalled that, even after the formation of the state, the people opted for the national parties. The entire lot of agitationists, who actually brought the state into existence, was mostly sidelined, not considered fit for office. This choice was validated by the failure of UKD legislators to impress, which led to the almost complete decline of the party. Stoking grievances can work well in getting people on to the streets, but these are no guarantee of administrative ability.
Amongst the entire lot of the state’s politicians, there are very few who have displayed a genuine understanding of the emerging economic structure and the social fallout of that. The overall vision that former CM ND Tiwari had is lacking – politicians do not seem to have learned much from their two decades in office. The challenges of urbanisation, environmental conservation, as well as the needs of the economy, have almost entirely been left for market forces to define. Planning and regulation are almost entirely absent. So, under the circumstances, the real need is for leaders who can present an all-encompassing plan. Picking on ordinary people’s vulnerabilities might strike a chord, but it should be seen as cynical exploitation that will only drain the state’s coffers for little long term gain.