Opinion » Comment

Updated: March 21, 2014 01:35 IST

‘The main opposition to the AAP is Modi’

Vidya Subrahmaniam
Comment (27)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Yogendra Yadav
Yogendra Yadav

Yogendra Yadav speaks of his decision to contest the Lok Sabha election, the AAP’s expectations and the reasons for the party’s high-pitched attacks on Narendra Modi

From foretelling elections on television to hitting the campaign trail in the dusty tracks of Gurgaon in Haryana, it has been a difficult but inspirational journey for Yogendra Yadav, political scientist and chief spokesperson and strategist for the Aam Aadmi Party.

It takes the onlooker a while to accept that television’s most famous number cruncher is actually soliciting votes in a garlanded, topi-wearing avatar. Mr. Yadav himself gives the impression of preferring to be in the background, doing what he knows best: providing strategic inputs to his young, financially-strapped party as it struggles to navigate the choppy, uncertain waters of the Lok Sabha election.

At the same time, Mr. Yadav feels his decision to contest was “unavoidable” in view of the immediate imperative to widen the AAP’s electoral base and give it a national profile. “After Delhi, we needed a second political breakthrough. Haryana will have Assembly elections in October 2014. Gurgaon is my home and the AAP’s decision to field me from this constituency is to prepare a base camp for the Assembly polls. Besides, unless I came here to fight, our workers would not have got the sense that we are in this election for real. Arvind Kejriwal’s example has shown that we have to take risks. Our leadership has to be seen to be taking the risk for our workers feel motivated.”

Travelling with Mr. Yadav is like being on a hop-on, hop-off bus. He speaks with candour on many things: his decision to contest the Lok Sabha election knowing that his work as a thinker-strategist would suffer; the AAP’s natural evolution from a party with an iffy, confused vision to one with a secular, social justice orientation; the reasons for the party’s high-pitched attacks on Narendra Modi; and the AAP’s expectations in this election and where it sees itself after it.

But the conversation breaks off each time a village comes into view. Mr. Yadav disembarks to deliver his election speech, which is a full throttle assault on the Bharatiya Janata Party, Mr. Modi and the “Ambani connection.” This might seem odd in a State ruled by the Congress, but it is not, given that his principal rival, Rao Inderjit Singh — a local dynast with deep roots in the area — has recently defected from the Congress to the BJP. “In this place, Force dynasty has combined with Force Modi,” he tells his audience.

Back in the SUV, Mr. Yadav admits that the AAP has gambled by choosing to contest across the country rather than confine itself to its stronghold regions of Delhi and Haryana: “In Delhi, we had a political breakthrough and made a moral impact. There were two choices before us. Either consolidate ourselves in Delhi and expand at the most to a few metros and therefore have good returns. Or scale up our fight in view of the unprecedented response the AAP has been getting from around the country.”

“I’m sure we have opted for the right course because we are in this for the long-run; our objective is to create a long-term alternative. Upscaling so rapidly is difficult but by not expanding, we ran the risk of allowing our support to evaporate. My own view is that the only way to create a national political alternative is through these rapid and crazy moves of upscaling. The text-book understanding of politics is that you do small steps. But this has never happened in history. Launching a party is like rocket launching. Either you defy gravity or you collapse, there is no third way. This was the only realistic path available. We will see after the election how far we have succeeded.”

Mr. Yadav’s prognosis for his party is that it is a serious contender for winning in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh and in some urban pockets of Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Karnataka. A second tier consists of regions where the AAP could get a 5 to 10 per cent vote share, making the party “politically viable straightaway.” Mr. Yadav believes that the AAP’s presence in these regions “will change the nature of political competition.” Then there is a third tier, where the AAP, Mr. Yadav says, will “register only a symbolic presence.” But even a symbolic presence is important “because in the long run it gives you a national character. He gives the example of Punjab and Gujarat where the communists and the Gandhians respectively had a tiny presence but nonetheless acted as a strong moral force: “The moral pressure brings attention to critical issues.”

Mr. Yadav says he takes a long-term view of politics: “The idea is to create a force of virtue that will change the character of public life; that will shape the national agenda.” According to him, “The real test of a political force is how much do you shape the agenda, how much do you change the rules of the game, how many idealistic youth do you draw to the party.”

Party ideology

One more halt and a speech later, the question of the AAP’s ideology— or more precisely, the lack of it— comes up. Mr. Yadav refuses to get into the “secular-communal” debate, arguing instead that in comparison to a stated “secular” position, the better route to secularism is through a diverse vote base. “The best thing that happened to us in Delhi was our discovery that our support among Muslims and Dalits was disproportionately large.”

This support base, Mr. Yadav says, has naturally led the AAP towards secularism and social justice. “Our commitment to secularism and ideology springs from our support among Muslims and Dalits; this is what anchors our ideology.”

On the party’s reluctance to take a defined ideological position, he says: “It is a different kind where there is no high political theory of secularism, there is no ‘secular’ rhetoric. Instead the focus is on inclusion.” Mr. Yadav points to the irony of Muslims and Dalits supporting the AAP despite the party’s refusal to toe the intellectual line on identity and related issues. “Arvind [Kejriwal] addressed a letter to Muslims which was not in the language of official secularism at all. The letter did not raise any of the classic Muslim identity issues that obsess the Muslim leadership, such as Aligarh, Urdu, Muslim culture etc. The letter talked about security which is a real issue and it talked about water, electricity and other livelihood matters. By any textbook understanding of Muslim politics, we should have bombed. Our party’s stand on Dalits is similar. We do not say what Dalit intellectuals want us to say.”

Is the AAP’s support base also the reason for its strident opposition to Mr. Modi? If so, why was this focus absent during the government formation in Delhi? “It has been my consistent position that Modi stands in opposition to the idea of India. Can there be a stronger statement than this? During the Delhi election and while in government, we were bogged down by everyday issues. There was also some resistance in the party to foregrounding Modi as that was not seen as our key strength. But even at that point I and Prashant [Bhushan] were clear that the principal opposition to the AAP was Modi.”

What if the AAP was crushed by a gigantic Modi wave? Mr. Yadav is clear that that will only strengthen the party’s will to fight Mr. Modi. “It does not matter how many seats the AAP wins. Even with no seat, we will stand up on the street and fight Modi. The Congress and Rahul Gandhi will not have that courage. At that point we will need a strong moral force to take on Modi and that will be the AAP. For me that is my politics.”

From rejecting the need for a stated ideology to emerging as the strongest voice against the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Mr. Yadav and his party have indeed come a long way.

More In: Comment | Opinion

Very well written piece.I respect Mr Y Yadav for his sincere and
relentless pursuit in try his best to fight a corrupt political
system.These Indian politicians have a skin thicker than the Rhino and
are insensitive ad without conscience. To have a Moral and ethical
support Neither the BJP of Congress have any standing..Putting power
and Money into concentrated hands and being subject to Capitalistic
ideology, they cannot think about the Common man . The Middle class is
going to suffer at the hands of Big Corporate and Power Brokers....The
common man needs to put his act together to beat this system....The
Only hope I see is the YOUTH voters now....

from:  chandrashekhar vairale
Posted on: Mar 22, 2014 at 09:01 IST

In 6 months focus shifted from corruption and is not towards Modi. AAP
still need to prove! Too Immature to drive India.

from:  Mahesh
Posted on: Mar 22, 2014 at 08:37 IST

I am Modi sympathiser but I certainly think that India needs congress
for the future. The problem with the Congress is not the party or the
cadres but the leadership.

Parties like AAP have no place in democracy like India

No doubt the system is flawed but so is AAP and its ideology.

People cannot sacrifice their future by supporting AAP.

It is a group of irresponsible people who have no stake in the future.

from:  Ganapathi S
Posted on: Mar 22, 2014 at 08:37 IST

Definitely these people can change the meaning of politics in India and it is started. Today the politics here is based on religion and cast only. They are unable to think above that level. It is also a fact that AAP leaders are not having experience. If we think it is also a good thing as they will not follow the traditional style. I don't understand what is the difference between the Congress and BJP. The policies of both are same. Then there were an absent of an alternative political party here. As a new party most of the leaders are young and educated people. If they will be success to maintain the leaders as aam aadmi it will be a great success. The people who were joined only for chairs will go out slowly. Don't go behind them. Find good people from the crowd. It will be a great success, and you can save the nation and You only can that.

from:  Chachu
Posted on: Mar 22, 2014 at 05:01 IST

Vivek and Gopi are correct in their comments. I think media needs to be nationalists and be
fair on Modi. AK has failed in Delhi. India needs him, but not as a PM. He is immature to lead
the country. The Hindu should project his party as a replacement to corrupt and communal
congress, SP, BSP and RJD.

from:  Tarashankar Rudra
Posted on: Mar 22, 2014 at 03:11 IST

I have been following AAP since December. Fighting the lok sabha
elections was the best decision from AAP.
I have read the list candidates description & on paper & many of them
are real gems. We really need some of these gems to be in parliament.

If that happens, to me AAP has won the elections.

from:  Sudhir Gawde
Posted on: Mar 22, 2014 at 01:56 IST

I sympathize with the goals of the AAP to cleanse political life in
India, and rescue the nation from the depths to which it has sunk.
However, I think the AAP is making a mistake by focusing its
electioneering entirely on defeating Mr. Modi. This is bad strategy,
and begs the question as to why the AAP is different. The AAP should
focus on the ills besetting the Indian economy, judiciary, defense
and the plight of the common man. It should propose some concrete
programs to pull India out of the mess. Merely shouting that Modi
must be defeated, sounds a lot like the empty rhetoric of 3rd rate
politicians. Come on AAP, show the nation that you have a vision that
can capture the imagination of the electorate!

from:  CS Venkat
Posted on: Mar 22, 2014 at 00:55 IST

It is not about Modi or Kejrival its about corruption, or the survival
of India

from:  xavier
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 23:55 IST

AAP is extreme left party. Once Indians know this, support to AAP will go away. Currently, it is failure of congress which has created AAP. AAP has no ideology except to disrupt and remove democracy from India.

from:  kirit shah
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 21:49 IST

AAP just wants to get more attention, and they found that chanting
"Modi, Modi" will help them. Forget whatever they told us last year in
Delhi, forget great movements with Anna Hazare, AAP also just wants to
get seats and be the bargainer. Or is AAP brought on to the stage by
Congress? If this is true, we should admit that Congress has made an
excellent tactical move with this. Just seem, Kejriwal and these AAP
leaders have forgotten all about corruption by Congress in the past 3-
4 weeks. And Congress supported AAP in Delhi, despite opposition from
their own leaders. It is a grand alliance behind the curtain. People
of this country, please understand this drama and realise who are the
real traitors in this game.

from:  Preetha
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 21:17 IST

all i wanted was a safe Delhi,he initiated his CM term by immediate
effect,reduced the price of electricity,and water bills but....WITH
CONDITIONS and for just 2 months(As if he knew tat his government wont
last beyond 2 month),He left delhi..but why????isnt he is appearing as
that greedy guy who just want whole golden eggs at onces!! if u all
listen the way he gives his interviews on news channel and the topics
he cover in every interview,being not a political specialist,i can say
that he is a aimless guy who just want to reach mountain top,and after
reaching there he will again give DHARNA there..hehe..jst kidding,but
my dear Arvind REliance,Tata these are the back bone of indian
economy,our country dont need just free electricity and water..China
also have very high corruption rate,but they are in top position
because of industrialisation only,so please dont fool us

from:  abhishek
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 21:13 IST

We appreciate AK for bringing freshness to Indian politics. he gave
new/good lessons to everyone & hope to us that things can be changed.
But quitting Delhi was really (one of many) wrong decision, even if
however justified at their site. They started well but lost path
midway - they should have continued as Delhi CM rather than trying to
grab the opportunity for LS elections. It was very immature/suicidal/
opportunistic step.
You can not keep blaming others forever & making excuses - you need to
perform as well.
Growth of country is possible only under a strong & proven leadership.
No more AAP - you can't make fool all the ppl all the time !!!

from:  rahul
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 18:29 IST

The title "the main opposition to AAP is Modi" is really eye catching
and it really is true as the party convenor Kejriwal has asked for
people's support to defeat Modi. Although the goal seems clear for the
party but what is not clear is its ideology.
In its short rule in Delhi, the party took the help of populist
measures which are proving to be unsustainable be it subsidy on
electricity or limited free water.It is high time the party should
clarify its policies on the matters that matter for AAM AADMI.

from:  raj kamal vatsa
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 18:18 IST

His wisdom has found a right canvas. I wish him and his party all the success.It will bring the real change.

from:  S. Loganathan
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 14:40 IST

nothing more can be expected from Yogendra leave alone AAP.
Instead of raising relevant issues they are targetting Mr.Modi or
Ambanis for everything.
What kind of intellectual base this party have which believie in
criticism but not so open to their ideologies and public&economic
policies ?

from:  vivek
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 14:39 IST

Its funny why The Hindu is promoting AAP exclusively to target Modi.
What happened to Congress Sins? 2G? CWG? Scams forgotten?
AAP has no track record on governance and they want to hijack democracy and create chaos.Only in dreams will they succeed.
Modi has track proven record and will be the PM 2014 not matter the amount of witch hunting in media is done using 2002 or AAP propaganda.

from:  Gopi
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 14:36 IST

The following statement of Mr. Yadav, if put into practice, is a welcome change in Indian politics.
“It does not matter how many seats the AAP wins. Even with no seat, we will stand up on the street and fight Modi. The Congress and Rahul Gandhi will not have that courage. At that point we will need a strong moral force to take on Modi and that will be the AAP. For me that is my politics.”

from:  D. Darwin Albert Raj
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 14:35 IST

I have always praised and acknowledged the electoral strategy, AAP has
adopted. It has successfully made its reach to urban middle class
penetrated into deeper levels. Being young Indian Muslim I do not want
AAP to have a stated stand on Muslim issues particularly. Its
political practices should strengthen the inclusive approach for the
country's development. And I assume that AAP is very clear on the idea
of development. And it would not do the mistakes of suppressing or
overlooking the genuine demands of any community of this country
including Muslims and others, because it is against the idea of
inclusive development.
But my one concern is very realistic that, any party to play longer
should have stated ideologies also, as the transfer of art of work and
idea to the next generation can be only possible through this. If the
party's ideology is not for just rhetoric but it believes in
inclusiveness then this should also be stated.

from:  farhan sumbul
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 10:29 IST

AK wrote letter to Muslims but why not Hindus? Then any sane
understanding, people contest in elections to come to power but this man
is contesting to defeat Mr Modi. So his intentions are clear, to disrupt
the democratic process. Ultimately AAP is planning to stall the process
of governance. And he is not talking about burning corruption issues
against Congress. Its explicit that he is paid by Congress to to do
whatever he is doing.

from:  C Narayanaswamy
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 09:59 IST

AAP's stance is wrong. While Congress party is fully responsible for all
ills facing the nation as it ruled the nation for predominant period.
Peoples rebuff this time can only bring AAP to senses.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 09:59 IST

5-10% vote share is not a significant presence; AAP needs 10-20% vote share badly.

Attacking the opponent is fine and need to be done with full throttle but also tell, in the same sentence, why the people need to vote for you. You need to tell people that you have not really failed in the people in Delhi but it is only a start.

Bashing the opponent can take you only this far.

from:  CK Mitra
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 09:46 IST

Nice Article, Tells a lot more about AAP than it wants to tell. Good to see a party like that which is treating everybody equally without indulging into pleasing everybody by double speech. the more tough stance you take on key issue the more you are respected then taking stance on each and everything. take the things as they come and resolve them case by case. the politics is about being flexible when needed without diverting from the key issues.

from:  Atul
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 09:31 IST

It is a pleasure to read Yogendra Yadav's intelligent, straight forward responses to Vidya S.'s
questions. It reads like the thoughts and ideas that were debated by Indian leaders as they
were fighting for and getting ready for Independence of India. Too bad most of the current
politicians can't articulate any ideas and count on spin and malign others to fetch votes. Most
unfortunately, the public seems to let them get away with it.

from:  Virendra gupta
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 09:04 IST

I was unsure about AAPs stand on various national issues earlier. But
the points stated by Mr. Yogendra were strong enough to convince me that
this party indeed has a very intellectual base. No matter how many seats
they win, this will be the most distinguished party in India ever.

from:  vivek patil
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 08:45 IST

the real character of AAP is shown, they change their color so rapidly, they started as a party against corruption, against congress, but now they are just blindly against modi(not even bjp), they forgot about all the scam and corrupt ministers of congress

from:  amolak
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 08:24 IST

“It has been my consistent position that Modi stands in opposition to the idea of India". Perfect.

from:  haneef
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 07:51 IST

AAP as it is ; that is the message Yogendra Yadav conveys.what do they want to give to
people if elected? No clue.Uplifting Dalits &Muslims!! What an ideology what an
opportunistic goal on the occasion of election.what sacrifice he has done ,has he lost his
sleep working for (worrying about) Dalits and Musalmans
I appreciate VIDYA and Hindu for covering such characters and clearly bringing out their
(selfish) agenda. what a shocking confession "-we can come to the streets where as Rahul
or Sonia can't". Such a loose statement coming from a seasoned journalist is condemnable

from:  krishnanTV
Posted on: Mar 21, 2014 at 07:38 IST
Show all comments
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor



Recent Article in Comment

George Monbiot

Treating soil like dirt is a fatal mistake

War, pestilence, even climate change, are trifles by comparison. Destroy the soil and we all starve »