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What has Aam Aadmi party brought to the political scene ?




In the past 1 year, there has been a sort of political earthquake in Delhi, the national capital. In 2011, the agitation for the Jan Lokpal galvanized crowds all over the country and almost brought the Government down on its knees (of course, with the kind of advice that the Government was getting from the likes of Chidambaram and Sibal, this was bound to happen); but in the end, the Government and the political system fought back – they managed to send the Jan Lokpal Bill to the standing committee of Parliament, where a dutiful Mr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi first extracted all the useful parts, made it more confusing, and then finally had a form ready where the Government and other political parties were sure that it would not have any impact on their misdeeds. This was for them hopefully the end, given that the next time that such an agitation was launched in the winter, it ended with a damp fizz, with most people ignoring Anna sitting on a fast in December in Mumbai. This was apparently the end. However, this was not to be.
There was soon a schism that took place inside the movement, with a section wanting to take on the challenge of the political groups and jump into the political arena themselves. Anna did not support this, and some others also withdrew (such as Justice Hegde and Kiran Bedi – who apparently did not want to get into the political arena the way some others such as Kejriwal, Prashant Bhushan and a few others did). I am obviously not privy to what their thinking was, but it would seem to be a step forward from their NGO’s that are working towards doing good. And every debate, every discussion that happened, political parties would taunt all of them about not being the representatives of the people, that it was only the established politicians who could be expected to make laws, and of course, they are so good that they do not need something like a Lokpal to investigate them and other instruments of corruption. So it would make sense for people claiming to do good and clean the system to get into the same cesspool and clean it from within; and there should not be any doubt about it – the common citizen of today detests the entire political clean as well as their instruments – the babus and the police.

For the last few weeks, I have been trying to talk to people I meet – this could be friends from the middle class, this are people who sell me stuff, these are the drivers of the autos in which I travel in, these are the people who provide me services. Most of their problems deal with the corruption that they see at all levels around them – the police force, the local bureaucracy, the municipal authorities. There is a visceral hatred of these instruments, and they see the established parties such as the Congress and the BJP (which has a bad name from many people because it runs the municipal corporations and these are a perfect example of local corruption and no work; as an example, do you see piles of trash nearby when you step out from your home, or have you seen the conditions of public lavatories – horrible) not really being as corruption free as they would like. When I asked people about 1 thing that they could see improving, a significant percentage wanted a less corrupt police force, seeing such a miracle as leading to a major improvement against waste and corruption.
Who do they see as being able to do something about it ? Well, the honest answer was they did not see anybody being able to do anything, but if there was something that could be done, they expected the Aam Aadmi Party to do something. This election, the AAP (and its broom symbol) might be able to get votes just because many people feel that they need to give a chance to Kejriwal; such problems as the apparent sting operation was dismissed as a ploy of the BJP or the Congress. If nothing else, the AAP has shaken up the scene in Delhi, and I would be rooting for Kejriwal to defeat Sheila Dikshit in her constituency by a significant margin – this would atleast show to the politicians that there is a massive under-current, and if somebody can tap into this under-current, they can pose a huge risk to the established parties. If the AAP does well in the Delhi elections, they should atleast try to stake their claim in other urban centers as well as in the other regions of the NCR, and also stand for municipal elections. There is a lot of potential there, if the AAP does not suddenly turn crazily leftist or otherwise turns into another party. At the same time, the other parties will try their best to discredit it.




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