AAP must stop protesting, start ruling

Bernard Tschumi had once described his minimal, austere apartment as a reflection of his views as an architect: “The architecture does not impose itself upon you. The apartment is a stage for other things to take place.”

Deciphered, Tschumi perhaps meant that in a happening abode austerity cannot be at the expense of the minimal needed for efficiency. In a context more relevant to Arvind Kejriwal, British Premier David Cameron threatened to “send back” any minister that proposed cuts in services rather than efficiency savings. “What you call austerity is what I might call efficiency,” he declared.

A good manager would know that austerity isn’t always about cutting costs; it’s also about getting more out of the same spending. About time then that the Delhi CM stopped fussing over the way he looked or lived. The touchstone for trust in the kind of politics he has come to embody are efficiency and transparency— not as much the public response that’ll never be uniformly supportive in this age of competitive (manipulative) politics.

Here one’s reminded of Aesop’s fable about a man and his son who stumbled and drowned the donkey they carried on a pole instead of riding it to the marketplace: Try pleasing all and you’ll please none including yourself!

So long as he’s able to make Delhi a better place to live, nobody really cares whether the CM has a four room official flat or a five room apartment.

Symbolism is no substitute for substance. Neither are sops. The water and power concessions Kejriwal announced pleased a section of his constituents but triggered an alms race with similar demands and decisions in Maharashtra and Haryana.

As a bonus, it secured for the minority regime the numbers it needed for the trust vote in the Assembly. Nobody topples regimes that start tenures with freebies for the poor.

The oft-replicated tactics barely distinguished the party that rode to power on the promise of a systemic overhaul, leave alone qualifying it to claim power at the Centre. To pose a challenge nationally, the AAP leadership has to first measure up to the task in Delhi.

The promises it made to the people of Delhi are well known: anti-graft, devolved decision-making and service delivery, transparent governance and putting an end to the VIP culture.

But little is known about AAP’s pan-India vision. The country indeed is ruled from Delhi. But ruling India is a way more complex and daunting than ruling Delhi.

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