Corruption-free politics? There’s an AAP for that!

DC | DARSHANA RAMDEV AND MONICA JHA
Published Dec 10, 2013, 2:53 pm IST
Updated Jan 20, 2016, 3:24 pm IST
Whether AAP is here to change the corrupted system is too early to say, but Bangalore is next on party's radar.
AAP volunteers celebrating in Bangalore - DC
 AAP volunteers celebrating in Bangalore - DC

Bangalore: He told Delhiites, “This is your opportunity, there will not be another. Do this for India, " and they listened.  Aam Aadmi Party( AAP) leader, Arvind Kejriwal may have been scoffed at by his critics, but he clearly struck a chord with the voters as he  spoke of the dawn  of transparent, accountable politics.

Watching it all unfold at close quarters was Nooraine Fazal, founder and principal of Bangalore's Inventure Academy, who has been a supporter of the movement since India Against Corruption began.

 

"I spent the last three days of the campaign in Delhi. The youthful energy, the optimism and the can-do attitude was simply amazing, I've never seen anything like it in my life before," she says, adding, "I was in Arvind's constituency and although all three parties were campaigning at the same time, people were completely taken by him, and the AAP."

When she visited Delhi’s slums, she was mobbed by the people, who came asking for brooms (the party symbol).

While some would like to see the AAP phenomenon as the beginning of a change in India's politics and of people giving shape to their desire to rid the country of the corruption so deeply entrenched in its system, political expert Dr Sandeep Shastri, brings a healthy dose of realism into the euphoria that followed the polls.

"I wouldn't say this is the start of a change, but it is definitely the start of an effort to bring about that change. Here is a party that wants to beat the establishment and people can see that,"  he says.

He is sceptical about the AAP receiving similar backing around the country. 

"The kind of platform available in Delhi simply isn't available everywhere else," he argues, maintaining that Kejriwal as the face of the AAP in Delhi, had a lot to do with the party's success there.

"Leadership  played an important role  and Kejriwal provided that nucleus. The timing was right, the place was right and so was the leadership. It will require tremendous effort and imagination to replicate the Delhi success in other parts of the country," he said.

Dr Ashwin Mahesh, member, Loksatta party, which has been stirring the masses into active participation in governance over the last few years, is far more optimistic. "This kind of politics will be the norm," he declares.

"At some point in every country's history this evolution takes place and accountable politics enters the mainstream.This will happen in cities first," he predicts.

We don’t want to be taken for a ride anymore: Justice Santosh Hegde

The spectacular debut of Aam Admi Party in Delhi Assembly elections reflects the true spirit of democracy. In a true democracy the elected representatives have to look after the interests of the electorate.

The meaning of democracy in the country was lost in the last so many decades and I am glad to see that AAP has given it a fillip.

AAP has been raising issues of the voters, which have been ignored by political parties. This neglect created an aversion to politics, in the minds of the electorate.

The AAP victory is a good sign. Over the last 60 years, politics became very self-serving, it wasn’t about the people. The Delhi results clearly show that people are no longer willing to be taken for a ride.

So far, two or three parties have run the show, but AAP has reversed that trend. During the last nine months. AAP has talked about the defects in the current politics and governance and assured of a governance that is people-friendly.

What happened in Delhi should be replicated across the country. Mr. Arvind Kejriwal had visited me two months ago and he was confident of two things: that AAP will win the elections and that in case they fall short of numbers then they will not join hands with anyone else.

Next: ‘After Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party’s focus is on Bangalore’

 

‘After Delhi, Aam Aadmi Party’s focus is on Bangalore’

Interview with Prithvi Reddy, Convenor, AAP Bangalore chapter

How do you see AAP’s victory in Delhi?

I was worried that many young volunteers and voters who have shown tremendous support would lose faith if AAP did not do well in Delhi.

It is reassuring that exit polls have indicated that 40% of the people between 18 and 25 years of age have voted for AAP. This is very encouraging as we live in a country where 65% of the population falls in this age group.

The results have brought new hope to the nation. The youth have been reassured that the choice they made is worth it.

Bangalore hugely supported the movement which saw the birth of AAP; Any specific plans for the city?

We are taking Bangalore and Karnataka very seriously. India Against Corruption saw the biggest support from Bangalore apart from Delhi and Mumbai. AAP has 12,000 registered members in the city alone.

I do not think any other party has that kind of membership. It is quite obvious that Bangalore is an area of our strength. While Modi is making promises to the youth, we are bringing them forward to make decisions for themselves. In AAP youth are part of the main wing.

In fact, in Karnataka, the average age of AAP members is 30. We don’t tell the youth that we have a magic wand for their problems, instead, we give them a platform, a voice and make them part of decision- making to find solutions themselves.

In the coming weeks we plan to organise mock youth parliaments in Bangalore and some other places, where the youth can  debate the issues bothering the nation.

AAP had a chance to field candidates in Karnataka Assembly elections this year. Why did you not field them? What are the major differences in the momentum in your favour from then to now?

We as Indians are cynical. We, in AAP, were trying not to do anything that would have dismissed us as an alternative forever.

That is why we decided not to contest the Karnataka Assembly elections as we were only a couple of months old as a party and did not have enough time and resources to prepare. We put all our resources inDelhi elections and have earned credibility.

AAP Bangalore chapter celebrates victory

Bangalore: “You’d be surprised to see our office,” remarked Rohit Ranjan, media coordinator for AAP Karnataka, from Delhi, when we said we wanted to visit.

Hidden away in a bylane off Indiranagar’s 100 Feet Road, is the party’s unassuming house-turned-office. Volunteers have spent their morning receiving over a hundred calls from people who want to be part of the AAP.

At 7 am on Sunday morning, about 150 AAP volunteers gathered at the Jain Seva Sadan Hall here in Bangalore, to watch the counting process on television.

Although they knew the party was popular, the landmark victory in Delhi was unexpected - a party winning an election the first time it contests is unheard of, after all.

When Arvind Kejriwal's victory over Delhi PM Sheila Dikshit was announced, the room erupted in a collective cheer. Patriotic songs boomed from the speakers and party supporters, overwhelmed with happiness, waved Indian flags through the celebrations, which lasted all day.

Vijay Bohara, who has volunteered with AAP since its India Against Corruption Days, recounts this, with a big smile on his face. The group in Karnataka remains free of a leader, although they do have Convenors for different parts of the city.

“The system is in place, but we want to be democratic about it,” said Bohara. “Swaraj,” they say collectively, as we depart.

Next - Young voters want change, and now: T.V. Mohandas Pai

Young voters want change, and now...

T.V. Mohandas Pai, Vice President, Bangalore Political Action Committee

The urban masses are discontented. They have had enough of inflation, bad infrastructure and the lack of investment in things like sewage lines and housing. AAP’s victory is an  indication of the people’s suffering and their growing anger at misgovernance.

Today’s electorate is young and impatient, they want change and they want it now. Many were first time voters, whose aspirations are very different from the older generations.

Political classes must embrace this change. They need to be more responsive to the people’s troubles at a local level. The electorate seems to say, “if you want to get our vote, you had better get your act together.”

People in Delhi have found they have an alternative, a foray into a different kind of politics. This will spread across those areas that saw a massive moment against corruption through the AAP.

Kejriwal deserves his share of credit in the Delhi outcome, but the party will find new faces across the country. They may not have the same charisma, but the media, which is in favour of new parties, will play them up. Freedom of Information will ensure that they pick up muck against the corrupt players.

This movement will grow in urban areas, but in Karnataka, 40% of the population is urban, so such movements will pick up. Even if these parties grow out of urban support, these votes will dislodge mainstream parties — which is what happened in Delhi.

 

...
Location: Karnataka




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