The Third Alternative

For the last year or so, since Anna Hazare’s first fast and Mr. Narendra Modi’s ascendance to the national platform, virtually all conversations during parties and social gatherings have eventually gravitated to the 2014 elections. No one, I repeat, no one I know has anything kind to say about the Congress or will vote for it or can bear to see Mr. Rahul Gandhi as Prime Minister.

While Mr. Modi has his staunch supporters, the vast majority of my friends and colleagues are ambivalent and undecided. They might vote for the BJP simply because no one wants the Congress back, but there are enough people who find it difficult to accept Mr. Modi as Prime Minister.

A third alternative would be so welcome!

Despite election issues often being local, when it comes to the National Elections, even a good candidate who belongs to a party no one wants to see in power, will lose against an average or bad candidate belonging to the alternative party…independents and the “no suitable candidate” options only lead to wasted votes.

There are some “third” alternatives, but all of them regional. Supporting them only leads to hung Parliaments and coalitions that have the potential to paralyze the Government or lead to compromises that are often against the country’s best interest.

There hasn’t been a viable third alternative at the National level for a long, long time. Perhaps, until now!

It is amazing to see the thick skins people have. Virtually no one in the mainstream media predicted Mr. Kejriwal’s and the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) success during the recent Delhi elections. And yet, for the last week, each paper, blogger and columnist has done nothing but dissect the reasons for their success with complete authority, without even the slightest admission of having got his/her punditry all-wrong in the first place.

As a “common man” without a deep understanding of politics and a deeper cynicism about all politicians, parties and their ulterior and eventual motives, the AAP’s ascendancy has stirred something within.

In our 20s, when we were the eternal “jholawallas”, we wanted to change the world, one socialistic idea at a time. Before we all embraced capitalism whole-heartedly, there was always a thought that perhaps at some point in our lives, there would be some way to get involved in Indian politics in a reasonably “clean” way, to eventually be able to make a difference. As we grew older, we pretty much realized that this was not really going to happen, stuck with the dynastic Congress and other alternatives that just didn’t sync with our thoughts and ideals.

I wonder whether the AAP is that “different” party!

The cynic in me says that even if they have “good” ideals at this point in time, eventually the AAP and Mr. Kejriwal will go the usual way, becoming politicians for the sake of politics and power, without making any real difference to the country, the way Mr. Obama turned his back on the “be the change” idea, which got him elected in the first place. Power eventually corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

The small, repressed idealistic boy in me on the other hand says that perhaps this is the real deal!

I don’t know. Could the AAP actually become a viable third national alternative and give our current parties and politicians a serious run for their money? Is it possible that we finally have a party that can make a real difference?

Should we even think of stoking that hope? Or are we just setting ourselves up for an eventual letdown?

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