The Aam Aadmi Party reminds me a lot of the Indian National Congress. That may be because I never studied Indian history, but nonetheless, if you’ll forgive the grand massacre of the national narrative that follows, here’s why:

Once upon a time, there was a movement for India’s freedom. The cause raised many questions in implementation but attracted many to its fold. A movement, organising itself as a party, was launched in 1885. Despite many differences between its members, the goal was noble enough to quash those differences temporarily. This movement, called the Indian National Congress, was a swell unit with many upstanding chaps like Mahadev Govind Ranade, Monomohun Ghose, Bal Gangadhar Tilak, Gopal Krishna Gokhale, C. Rajagopalachari, Vallabhbhai Patel, and Rajendra Prasad.

When India became independent in 1947, the glue that held these people together came undone. What had started as a movement had succeeded and in the next phase, ossified into a political party. The act of governing forced a clarification of principles and in the political shuffle that ensued, leadership was firmly established among the mediocrity. India entered the Dark Ages.

Similarly, the Aam Aadmi Party that started as an anti-corruption movement attracted many well-meaning and capable people. However, its metamorphosis into a political party has left it out-flanked on several issues it had never seriously considered. A sudden embracing of any combination of incoherent principles leaves out large chunks of the erstwhile movement. For now, with its promise of massive power subsidies, the AAP is ensuring that it follows the INC’s footsteps and leads India into the Dark Ages…this time, metaphorically as well as literally.

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Jaideep A. Prabhu is a specialist in foreign and nuclear policy; he also pokes his nose in energy and defence related matters.

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