The Aam Aadmi and (s)electables

The success of the AAP in India has trashed the ‘sacred’ rule of (s)electability, taken as gospel truth in Pakistan.

Adnan Randhawa January 28, 2014
The writer is a lawyer and Central Deputy Secretary Information of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf

Saadat Hassan Manto’s character, Ustad Mangu,the tonga wallah, was a brilliant character portraying a peculiar phenomenon, which is set to repeat itself after short intervals in the subcontinent. Ustad Mangu was the aam aadmi of Lahore under British imperialism who, after overhearing some of his British passengers discuss that the Government of India Act, 1935 had been promulgated to ensure equal rights for Indians, picks up a quarrel with a gora soldier who had beaten him up for no reason. While taking revenge from the gora soldier, Ustad Mangu shouts, “new constitution, new constitution”. Nevertheless, he is arrested and lands in a lock-up all set to be presented before a gora Judge saab.

A new Pakistan was expected to emerge from the political reality of the past few years which saw the rise of the aam aadmi or the common man in our polity. But as fate would have it, that was not to be. It was India, and not Pakistan, which was favoured by the goddess of fortune, where, at least, the first phase of sending forth the aam aadmi in the legislatures has been completed. Here in Pakistan, however, the aam aadmi dream was shattered by a ‘shining and rational’ dictum of electability, which in fact, was a euphemism for ‘selectability’. (S)electables, in our political system, are those who have a ‘good’ background. The first rule is that they must belong to the elite class, which after Partition, has served as the most efficient tool of prolonging foreign rule in Pakistan. Second, they must be ‘reliable’ people for those who call the shots in Pakistan and their reliability can be gauged by their past conduct and that of their forefathers in their dealings with British imperialism. Third, they should have a good understanding of Pakistan’s political culture and should have successfully practised it in the past.

Politics in Pakistan will remain a forbidden area for the common man as the right of running the establishment has been reserved for feudal lords, nawabs, sardars and other cronies of the establishment. You may be a son of a junior commissioned officer and later become an army chief, you may hail from a humble background and become the chief justice, you may become the editor of a top-ranking newspaper after having started your career as a street vendor; but you cannot make your mark in politics if you are a common man in Pakistan. For that, you have to be a (s)electable.

We need to question those who have made these rules? Are we bound to follow them perpetually? Is this true for any other field? The common man, if given proper training, guidance and encouragement by the so-called leaders claiming to be champions of the aam aadmi’s cause, could have emerged on the national political landscape and waged a war against the woes of corruption, bad governance and enslavement by foreign powers. Only a leadership that has emerged from the grass roots through a genuine, democratic and merit-based political process can fix the woes that are haunting us. The success of the Aam Aadmi Party in India has tossed into the dustbin the ‘sacred’ rule of (s)electability, taken as gospel truth in Pakistan.

Indeed, the Aam Aadmi phenomenon was actually generated and nurtured in Pakistan but the ill-invented narrative of (s)electability ate it up here, unfortunately.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 29th,  2014.

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gp65 | 7 years ago | Reply Wanted to point out that apart from many parties that are non dynastic (BJP, CPIM, Asom Gana Parishad) and where people rise from humble origins to become ministers in state or center there are several other present and past CMs who also rose from a humble background (Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalita are some examples). But most important is the fact that there are close to 3 million people elected at local levels in cities and villages of which close to 1 million are women. This is the nursery of politics in India.
gp65 | 7 years ago | Reply ET Mods - I am providing absolutely factual information that directly relates to the article in question. Please allow. Well before AAP rose to power, there were many other such examples of people rising from very humble origins. They simply did not get as much press in Pakistan. 1) The current BJP Prime ministerial candidate who is the thrice elected CM of Gujarat sold tea to pay for his Masters degree 2) The former BJP President Nitin Gadkari used to paste posters on the wall. In fact as such BJP is a non dynatic party and people from all strate find representation in its power structure. Not a single one of its succesful CMs be it Shivraj Chohan of MP or Raman Singh of Chhatisgarh (both 3 times elected CMs). 3) Apart from BJP, CPIM is also a totally non dynastic party and you would be hard pressed to find people from elite background in that party which governed West BEngal fo over 30 years and off and on is in power in Kerala and Tripura. 4) The Asom Gana Parishad was a new party of youth leaders formed in 1980s and its CM and ministers were in the 30s with no family background in politics. They rose from their succesful protest movement against COngress policies that deprived Assam of the rightful share of its resources. 5) Mayawati who was the former CM of UP and Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalitha who are current CMs of West Bengal and Tamil Nadu have also risen from very humble backgrounds. 6) The humble backgrounds of our present PM Manmohan Singh and our former President Abdul Kalam are also well known. 7) The present CM of Orissa Naveen Patnaik cannot claim to be of humble origins since his father Biju Patnaik had been a state CM and also in the central cabinet in Morarji Desai government. Having said that he uses his own car for personal use and lives in his own house not an official residence.
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