MORE OF THE SAME MALVIKA SINGH Delhi is in the grip of election fever. There is such overwhelming dislike for the United Progressive Alliance government at the Centre that the negativity seems to be affecting the Congress in Delhi that goes to the polls soon. Sheila Dikshitâ€™s government has made Delhi the only â€˜functioningâ€™ city in India. From the airport to the railway stations, from the connecting flyovers that link far-flung colonies to the green patches which have been planted to create open spaces that are accessible to all, this city is a notch above the rest. Yet Delhiâ€™s government is having to take the blows that India seems to want to inflict on the ruling dispensation at the Centre. Instead of receiving accolades for having delivered on many counts â€” the comparisons are there for all to see â€” Sheila Dikshit is bearing the brunt of the anger against the Congress-led UPA government that did not engage or deliver for India. The Aam Aadmi Party, with Arvind Kejriwal at its helm and the jhadu as its symbol, proclaims loudly that it will secure the mandate and rule Delhi. Kejriwalâ€™s political â€˜experienceâ€™ is that of an officer, a bureaucrat from the revenue and income tax service of India. He has by his side, as his potential ruling team, a political scientist, retired administrators, policemen and women, army personnel, a lawyer, and many â€˜activistsâ€™. It is truly unfortunate that the language of its campaign â€” party slogans are plastered on the backs of three-wheelers that ply Delhiâ€™s roads â€” is uncouth and unbecoming of a fledgling party that claims that it is determined to change the course of politics in India. Ugly rhetoric and untenable actions, such as the snapping of electricity wires as an act of celebrating the breaking of laws, make it similar to other political outfits that do the same things in a different way. Tired minds The AAPâ€™s intellectual superficiality and lethargy, its political manipulation and sloganeering, leave much to be desired. Political credibility is at its lowest. There is no real alternative that India can vote for with the intense commitment that democracy and its processes demand. Ideas and initiatives, processes, mechanisms and contemporary remedies that could energize the polity are nowhere to be seen. The counterpoint to what is on the kursi is as disturbing. Political creativity is nowhere on the scene. Political outfits are all spouting the same thing with mild and tired variations. It is as if the mind of the Indian political class has curdled while waiting for the messiah. Simplistic rhetoric dominates the imagination, leaving Indians with no option but to go with â€˜changeâ€™ and whoever symbolizes that change regardless of possible consequences. I have not met a single Indian, apart from a very small bunch of Congressmen and women, who is not appalled by or ashamed of the leadership at the Centre. The reactions are not only from the chattering classes to which I belong, but across the lines of difference and disparity that governments in India have carefully demarcated and tried to consolidate as human banks for their own, short-term survival. There may well be a great churning that could trigger substantive and possible institutional changes but the diversity and plurality will be the checks and balances that will protect the sub-continental ethos even if it goes through a difficult period where identities come under assault. Frankly, had Manmohan Singh engaged with India, spoken to India, travelled the length and breadth of India and reached out to the real people instead of sitting in an ivory tower or addressing citizens from 30,000 feet inside an airplane on his way back from some foreign nation, the balance would have kicked in and prevented the possible swing. More of the same ************************************************** If only the Airplane Baba had his feet on the ground!