Union minister Jairam Ramesh on Wednesday asked the political class not to make fun of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and warned them that the newbie can take different avatars in states on the “legitimate issues” it had been raising.
“We cannot ignore Aam Aadmi Party… Because what they are agitating about– corruption, austerity in politics, simplicity in politics– these are legitimate values,” the Rural Development Minister said.
“Today Congress party is thinking about it (AAP). But the BJP has already lost its sleep due to Aam Aadmi Party. Prakash Karat is saying we are the Aam Aadmi Party. If Badals (in Punjab) don’t mend their ways, then Aam Aadmi Party will also eat up the Akali Dal. AAP is like Dashavatar. In different states it can have different avatars,” said Mr Ramesh, who is also a key Congress strategist.
His statement came two days after his Cabinet colleague Manish Tewari took a dig at Arvind Kejriwal’s party saying other political parties should not be too worried, frustrated and disappointed with its success because several parties have come and became history soon and AAP will soon disappear from the Indian political landscape.
“Don’t make fun of them. Making fun of them would be proved wrong,” Mr Ramesh said.
In an apparent reference to the Congress’ defeat mainly at the hands of AAP in the Delhi Assembly polls, he said, “If we had brought Lokpal Bill two years ago, we wouldn’t have been facing the problems we are.”
Citing the austere lifestyle of Defence Minister AK Antony, he also added that a lot of people in Congress lead a simple lifestyle.
Noting that people want simplicity and austerity, he said politicians should live a normal life. He also spoke about the AICC norms set out for Congress leaders by party chief Sonia Gandhi.
“She set out a code of conduct. It was a code of conduct sent to all Congress chief ministers, all AICC members. We have a code of conduct… She is the only political leader who spoke about ostentatious marriages,” Mr Ramesh said.
He said that “marriages in India are obscene and political weddings particularly are obscene” and vulgar display of wealth.
“I am not sure whether they will be able to run a government. But they have changed the political discourse in our country. And they have created a space for people who cannot come into established political parties to join politics,” he said.
Later in the day, Congress distanced itself from his remarks.
When asked to comment on Mr Ramesh’s remarks, AICC general secretary Shakeel Ahmed said, “This can be his personal opinion and observation and he does not have any information on it.”