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AAP's right wing morality and left wing economics

Mr Kejriwal isn't doing anything that hasn't been done before. Arguably, this is what needs to be done to grow in politics

T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan  |  New Delhi 

T C A Srinivasa-Raghavan

The middle class is outraged that the Aam Admi Party (AAP) and Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minister of Delhi, should have endorsed the targeting of some foreign women by his law minister and that he himself should have held the Republic Day hostage.

The Home Minister has even called him mad.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Mr Kejriwal is acting perfectly rationally and in keeping with the long established traditions of political new-comers.

This consists, initially, of obtaining respectability by espousing middle class issues and once that objective is achieved, moving down the social spectrum to the mass votes.

This downwards move, in turn, involves adopting conservative social attitudes and morals because people who have just come out of poverty don’t rapidly adopt a different and more liberal set of social mores.

However, since this class is economically still highly vulnerable, they also need help and that involves Robin Hood tactics which, in the modern world, mean subsidies.

What we get therefore is a mix of right wing morality and left wing economics.

Not an exception

In the last 200 years, there has not been a single political party anywhere in the democratic world that has not adopted tactics that further this general strategy for winning votes.

The Congress started as a party of the middle class in 1885 and after 1916, moved down the social scale thus alienating large sections of the middle class. The BJP has done the same thing since the mid-1980s.

In the US, over the last century, the Democrats have done it and in the UK, Labour and the Liberals have also taken this route when they needed to expand their influence.

Mr Kejriwal is therefore not doing anything that has not been done before. Indeed, arguably, this is what needs to be done to grow in politics.

First Published: Thu, January 23 2014. 12:25 IST