My big fat AAP dharna

Jan 25, 2014, 06:50 IST | Rohan Joshi

Rohan JoshiEarlier this week, hundreds of people from a great city took to the street in an incredible show of grit and determination. But enough about the Mumbai Marathon. A day later, Delhi’s attempt to imitate Mumbai’s mega-event failed, when its citizens gathered around Rail Bhavan and then just sat down for two days. I jest. An Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) dharna is very different from a marathon. For starters, in a marathon, African people can win.

However, credit where it’s due. The Aam Aadmi Party dharna in Delhi stuck with the party’s manifesto of being for everybody, by being an equal opportunity clusterf@#k and annoying everyone in equal measure. There was so much stupidity on display during the dharna, that they should have just called it Dhoom 4.

Arvind Kejriwal
The Writing’s on the wall: There was so much stupidity on display during Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal’s dharna, that they should have just called it Dhoom 4

Not a single person involved in the events of last week acquitted themselves well. Let’s start with the AAP itself. To say that they’ve had a brutal first few weeks in power would be an understatement. They’ve had such a tough first month, that David Moyes reads about them before bed every night just to feel good about himself. The AAP has spent their entire first month in power being watched by the media and political parties, both of whom seem to want nothing more than to see them fall flat on their face. The AAP hasn’t helped its own cause much, with infighting, and the party’s own MLAs openly dismissing Kejriwal’s leadership. On the bright side, Kejriwal and our PM now have something in common.

The nation (not to be confused with Arnab Goswami’s THE NATION!!!) is also upset about the fact that AAP Law Minister Somnath Bharti led what appears to be a vigilante, warrantless raid on four African nationals on suspicion of drugs and prostitution. And then a video surfaced of Dr Kumar Vishwas at an event some years ago, talking about south Indian nurses in a manner that can best be described as unflattering. With this much racism, sexism, and emotional blackmail, it’s heartening to know that when the AAP said it stood for the common Indian man’s values, it wasn’t kidding.

I can’t honestly say I understood Kejriwal’s knee-jerk reflex to stage a dharna. You’re the Chief Minister of a state, with constitutional machinery at your disposal. If you want to prove that this country has a future, you need to prove that its machinery works, as opposed to having to circumvent it to get stuff done. Protests are an impotant democratic tool when you’re disenfranchised and need to draw people’s attention to something. But you’re the very-much enfranchised ruling party; you’re the biggest, brightest news story in the country. You already HAVE our attention. Now do something with it that doesn’t feel like a deleted scene from Rang De Basanti.

Also making a hash of things was the media, which leapt at every chance it had to suggest that the AAP is unraveling, and not the answer to anything. The media’s tone across the board was savage and biased. Strong, evocative words like “chaos” and “mockery” and “failing the people of Delhi” were thrown about too casually. I felt less like I was watching news coverage, and more like I was watching a live, on-air existential crisis. A crisis in which the media (and the Internet) realised that they’re not the aam aadmi Kejriwal claims to stand for, but the 1 per cent. This is what all coverage sounded like:

Hour 1: Arvind Kejriwal is taking to the streets. He is causing traffic.
Hour 4: Arvind Kejriwal is not nice. Our channel is now katti
with him.
Hour 12: Arvind Kejriwal has failed India. In fact, Mahatma Gandhi himself rang us from heaven to say that he has burnt his “KEJRU ROCKS” poster.
Hour 25: Reliable sources tell us that Arvind Kejriwal invented AIDS. And call-centres.
Hour 31: Kejriwal is Skeletor. Now for a commercial break. With only Congress Bharat Nirman ads.

And of course, the most miserable of all was our established political class, who seized every opportunity to jump on the Kejriwal is Satan bandwagon. My personal favourite was Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde, who called Kejriwal a “yeda mukhyamantri”. I respect this statement for the sheer desi-ness of Shinde’s frustration. When in doubt, go with “PAAGAL HAI SAALA”.

I also loved how parties fell over each other to suggest that Kejriwal’s shenanigans prove that he’s no different from any other political leader. And that is my big (and only) takeaway from The Big Fat AAP Dharna; our politicians are so awful that the worst insult they can think of for someone is: “You’re so terrible, you’re me.”

Rohan Joshi is a writer and stand-up comedian who likes reading, films and people who do not use the SMS lingo. You can also contact him on www.facebook.com/therohanjoshi

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