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What does the vote base of the AAP mean ?




This is probably one of the most argued issue in Indian politics, with a variety of opinion as to what the emergence of the AAP means. Politicians and analysts of all kinds have ventured their opinion on the rise of the AAP and the current decimation of the Congress in Delhi. For those who are scared by a possible rise of Modi and the BJP, the rise of the AAP means that the BJP is not really on a high, that when there is a great alternative, then people flock to the third party. However, when you see that people from the Congress or the SP or the JD(U) venture such an opinion, you can only laugh, since it seems that these parties are trying to compare themselves as being equivalent to the AAP in their respective states, and nothing can be further from the truth. For many others, who are dis-satisfied with the BJP, the Congress, and many others, the AAP presents a possibility that is almost like a golden future, where there is more transparency, less of corruption and more of overall honesty. These two visions don’t really meet, since if the people from the first type were to really understand what this means, then the emergence of the AAP should be scaring the hell out of them. This is a party that is attracting people from all strata of society, and promising a vision that is uniting people across castes and religion.
And then you have old fossils such as the highly corrupt Sharad Pawar who still dismisses the rise of the AAP as something that is not to be believed, that happens because of the weakness of the Congress – this is a highly simplistic and probably wrong view. Sharad Pawar is from the old school where he believed in a rise where he would amass money and riches along the way, be corrupt and yet manage a power base. He has remained high in Maharashtra, although for the past many years, there has been really no growth. At the same time, with increasing awareness, there is going to be more resentment of the style of corruption and lack of governance that Pawar and his family represents, and a possible breeding ground for the AAP or others similar to these in urban and semi-urban regions in Maharashtra who are looking for promising alternatives.

And this takes us to where the AAP has managed to rise high. When, during the Anna Hazare agitation (where the agitation was actually organized by NGO’s where Kejriwal’s and Sisodia’s NGO’s played a strong rule), the amount of sudden people support for the agitation had become so high, it was clear that there was a huge amount of resentment against the current system and it was looking for somebody to claim this support. But the traditional politicians dismissed this. However, when you talk to people in the street, there is an incredible amount of resentment against the current power system. People are horrified at the amount of bribery that it takes to gets things done, they are horrified at a party that does not care about price rises (and the words of people such as Kapil Sibal and Sharad Pawar dismissing price rise was a major turn-off for the people and actually caused a lot of anger), there is an incredible amount of anger at what the police force represents and how it represents the power rather than helping people (Personal touch: A couple of days I got mugged at a relatively low crime area and lost my phone, and the police was interested in ensuring that I filed a missing report rather than a FIR to reduce their work-load and I saw more people at the station and how they were treated by the police; and this was in urban Delhi, not even in other areas where the police would be even less people friendly).
As a result, when you have a party which promises to be the voice of the people and not just through slogans, but also in the way that they collect funds, select candidates, and so on, they are different from the others. The amount of dedicated support that they were getting was incredible, and from all strata of society. They were deriving support from the middle classes and upper classes with the promise of honesty and reduced corruption and from the poorer classes with their promise of control on prices and the same promise of reduced corruption.
And this is the core of the issue. Corruption is what causes problems to everybody. For the rich and the middle classes, corruption is in having to pay extra for their deals (for example, it is beyond horrible that to get a refund of your own money from the income tax department, you can be demanded money before the refund order is issued or for getting a land deal done), and at the same time, for the poor, corruption impacts them everywhere. In Delhi, the BJP has blotted their book to some degree through the incredible amount of incompetence and corruption that happens in the municipal corporations, and of course the Manmohan Singh Government is famous for being the most corrupt government ever in India, and that is a distinction that is dooming the Congress.
All this would not have mattered a few years earlier, but people are more aware of their rights. The presence of TV and of other means of communication (such as mobiles, SMS and the internet) had caused people to be much more aware. They know corruption where they see it, and even when you can accept a certain amount of corruption, the amount of corruption that is happening and the arrogance of the Government is incredible. Even when the Congress thought that Sheila Dixit’s government was a doer, the level of corruption was incredible and so was the arrogance that everything was happening as per the Congress has wanted.
However, the AAP does not have everything going for it. It has a vote base that is not a dedicated vote base; these are people who are voting for a concept that is currently represented by the AAP and can quickly go away. Right now the AAP is so strongly entrenched that even when there was an apparent scam against the AAP, a large number of people refused to believe that the scam was true and were relieved when it seems that the scam was a non-issue. But the future performance of the party will determine whether they can retain their support and expand to other cities. This is still not a cadre based party, but more of a party of enthusiastic volunteers fired by a mission. Only time will tell whether they can sustain; but if they can do, they will ensure that other parties get shocks more often and have to move towards more transparency.




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