ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Can AAP Slay the Dragon?

AAP wants to slay the dragon of crony capitalism, but the problem is all capitalisms are crony.

It is just as well that the self-proclaimed “non-political Gandhian” Anna Hazare did not go along with Arvind Kejriwal. Hazare is no Jayaprakash Narayan (JP); neither does he have the stature of JP nor the Lok Nayak’s political vision. But the Janata Party that evolved from the JP movement, with politicians from the right of the political spectrum to the socialists joining the bandwagon, soon began to emulate what the movement had fought against in Gujarat and Bihar in 1974. Nevertheless, JP’s recital of the Hindustani poet Ramdhari Singh’s Karo Singhasan Khaali Ke Janata Aati Hai (Vacate the throne, for the people are coming) at a mass rally on the Ramlila Maidan in Delhi before the declaration of the Emergency, and its electrifying effect, remains unsurpassed; the India Against Corruption (IAC) movement just does not compare. AAP’s evolution from the IAC movement is of a different trajectory, and for now at least it has barely managed to come to power in the city-state of Delhi, and, that too, with the support of one of the two of the biggest and most corrupt of the nation’s political parties. The eradication of corruption is AAP’s principal goal though and its leaders never tire of claiming that the party has no ideology and no affinity to any political doctrine, liberalism, socialism, or Hindutva.

What is indicative though is the fact that AAP is attracting technocrats into its fold. Of course, a number of non-residential Indian professionals and entrepreneurs have provided financial support and it is pertinent that a recent entrant into the party, V Balakrishnan, a former member of the board of the IT major Infosys, describes AAP as “the most successful start-up by an IIT-ian ever”. AAP, a start-up, and the most successful one at that? That is how technocrats conceive of it. Now, a start-up, prior to its launch, in its R&D stage, has negative cash flows coupled with high levels of risk. An overwhelming number of such would-be start-ups never attain the technological and commercial definitions required to make it to the next stage. It is only those that survive that are launched in the marketplace. That is the start-up phase that Balakrishnan is talking about – AAP’s successful launch in the political marketplace. But even in this start-up phase failure rates are between 30% and 50% and negative cash flows persist. Moreover, there is a lack of commercial references, which deters the big financiers. But the venture capitalists do come in and there is a chance of making it to the growth phase, when a progressive decrease in risk expands the range of potential investors.

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