MODI TIMES MODI TIMES MODI TIMES MODI TIMES MODI TIMES MODI TIMESModi vs AAP’s guerrilla war: Has BJP understood its opponent?
R Jagannathan | First Post | New Delhi | Mar 6, 2014:: Yesterday's violent events involving the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) offer a classic case study in what happens when a heavily armed conventional army is forced to fight a war with lightly-armed and mobile insurgents. The BJP made every possible tactical mistake it could while AAP did what it does best. If the BJP brains trust does not have an effective counter to Arvind Kejriwal's tactics, it will start losing a battle that appeared almost won.
"picking a trouble on his own"
Fighting goes out of control when the combatants misread the other party's intentions. In this case, the BJP seems to understand AAP far less than the AAP does BJP. Moreover, AAP misreading BJP does not matter; it is not playing to win this battle; it is playing for brand recognition, the right to fight the next battle. But the BJP is fighting to win the current electoral battle of 2014. If it misreads AAP, it can damage itself when it has most things going its way.
It is worth analysing why AAP is doing what it is, and why BJP has done what it has so far - and how the latter’s strategy may need some redirection.
AAP’s strategy is that of the classic disrupter who has to break the mould in order to have a chance of succeeding. To expect it to follow the normal rules of politics does not suit it at all. It is here to change the rules. This is why it abandoned Delhi so that its tactics are not constrained by the basic needs of decorum and governance norms. Out of government, regular tantrum-throwing can be a part of its arsenal.
We also have to understand AAP's DNA and tactics by looking at where it came from: it was the product of the Jan Lokpal movement. It is a street-fighter, not a party of government. Its success is not the result of what it stands for but what it stands against. Just as Pakistan defines itself as ‘Not India’, AAP defines itself as ‘Not the Establishment’; its politics is anti-politician. To sustain itself on a diet of Not-the-Establishment rhetoric and keep its cadres motivated, it needs a solid enemy to define as the establishment.
Till December 2013, the Congress was the establishment. After the Congress was demolished in Delhi and three other states, Arvind Kejriwal found that the establishment had vanished. This is why he had to invent a new, mightier enemy in the Narendra Modi-led BJP. Without erecting a Goliath, David would be a footnote in history. Martyrdom is gained against lions, not mice.
If we understand this, we know why Kejriwal acts the way he does. Congress turned out to be a hollow card-board box, while BJP is the one looking muscular. Kejriwal's idea is not to defeat the BJP but to define himself as David - the frail muffler man heading off to fight Gigantic Evil. He is anti-BJP because BJP is the party to beat. This is why suddenly all the scams of the Congress do not matter.
This is why Kejriwal heads to Gujarat, where his party has no chance whatsoever. If he fields lots of candidates in Gujarat, the resultant split in the anti-BJP vote may end up giving Modi a clean sweep - maybe all 26 seats. Kejriwal is in Gujarat to position himself as ‘Not Modi’, not to even try to win. His goal is to provoke, engineer a disproportionate response, and position himself as the victim - the Christ whom everyone wants to crucify.
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