Scalability of AAP

Transformation in Indian Democracy – Part V

Continued from “Re-engineering the Bureaucracy”

Before we consider the scalability of AAP, let us first try to understand what is AAP? Is it a movement or is it a party? It was not that long ago when the experts called it a movement not a party. Now, it appears everyone concedes that AAP is a party as well. Normally, movements are born out of some pressing necessities to bring about a change in status quo. There are seldom well developed plans after the primary movement objectives are achieved and therefore most movements, however large and successful, are short lived. AAP is also born out from anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare.

There is a major difference here. The Anna Hazare movement, like others in the past, slowly fizzled out. However, out of the ashes AAP was born to continue the cause. They were challenged by the established parties to work within the democratic system to enact their reforms. Left with no other choice, the energy of the movement was harnessed by Arvind Kejriwal to form a party.

AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressing assembly
as Manish Sisodia looks on during vote of confidence in Delhi assembly
at Old Secretariat on January 2, 2014 in New Delhi, India.
Five-day-old minority AAP government won critical trust vote.
With the Congress and two other legislators backing,
the confidence vote moved by Education Minister Manish Sisodia was passed 37-32,
with the BJP voting against the five-day-old government.
(Photo (c) Getty Images)

This is where the major difference exists between other established parties and AAP - rest of them are just political parties while AAP is a movement and a party both.

In the normal paradigm, any political party is started by a handful of people. They declare their ideology, a platform and a set of goals and objectives. They then acquire and deploy considerable amount of financial resources to develop regional and national organizations. These organizations grow by inducting people through (partly or completely) ideological identifications, alliances, cast, religion, language and a host of other factors. The party organization and support grows slowly through a lot of hard work by thousands of people over a long period of time. This is why the axiom evolved that it takes a lot of money, people, hard work and time to organize and mobilize a successful party that can win elections.

The AAP on the other hand, as I said before, is a movement and a party both. Movements may be ignited by one individual or a handful of people, but their growth comes from the grass roots – the people. The growth of a movement is from bottom up while that of a party is from top down. This is why movements do not require large sums of money, organizations and time to grow. Once ignited, they can grow like a wild fire. The energy comes from the pent-up desire and need of the masses to participate in the process of cleaning up the filth from the Indian political landscape. The real challenge here is to harness this energy into a structured approach through a dedicated organization that shapes into a political party. As long as the party stays dedicated to the cause of the people and does not betray their trust, there is a chain reaction between the energy of the masses and the organization of the party that channels this energy and feeds it back to the people. This is a high wire act but it can be done. The AAP is riding this tsunami right now. They are treading on thin ice but they have an opportunity to cross the lake without going around it. They have to maintain the movement of the masses and create an organization to faithfully support it simultaneously.

This is hard to understand from the traditional paradigm of the other parties. Not long ago, they were mocking the AAP as a rag tag organization with no financial resources who would not even win a single seat in Delhi. They certainly received a shock treatment. Now, Congress is mocking them again for their ludicrous ambition to contest in national elections. BJP is giving them advice to stay within Delhi and learn how to run a government and leave the national election to the big boys. They have not learned their lessons well. The worst thing they can do is to take AAP lightly again.

There is a peaceful revolution taking place in Indian democracy right now. It is transitioning from state power to people power. It is breaking the traditional and artificial vote bank barriers. There is no need to divide Indians by their caste, religion or background. There is no need to classify people as SC, OBC, Tribal, Minority etc. A person who is un-empowered is one who cannot provide proper food, clothing, shelter, education, health care and security to himself and his family. It is the responsibility of the state (country) to help him help himself to climb out of this disability and become a productive citizen of the country. All the other identifications are simply artificial and counterproductive. They divide us instead of uniting us as Indians. The poor and minorities are beginning to understand it that they are being exploited by opportunistic politicians. It is no surprise to see that the AAP swept most of the votes from the poor and the neglected who were traditional vote banks for SP and BSP.

There are a multitude of challenges facing the Aam Adami Party right now. The foremost among them are:

  1. Stay connected with the mass movement against the massive corruption in Congress and BJP.

  2. Make a genuine attempt to meet the promises made during the Delhi election campaign.

  3. Pursue the declared manifesto sincerely and vigorously. Prioritize and announce action plans to meet them.

  4. While accomplishing items 1 and 2 above, maintain fiscal responsibility in governance. Delay programs if necessary but find alternative sources of revenue or savings in spending to meet budget within reasonable guidelines.

  5. Do not enter any compromise alliance with either Congress or BJP.

  6. Make all decisions, spending, accomplishments and failures public through internet or other media.

  7. As stated before, maintain accountability and transparency of the government as top priority.

  8. Choose carefully places where to contest elections at state and national levels. Particularly target places where Congress and BJP are struggling because of widespread corruption or poor execution. Participate in constituencies where reasonable organizational structure is in place and solid candidates with squeaky clean records are available to field.

The task is formidable but the opportunities are compelling. It is up to AAP to capitalize on them.

Continued to “Re-engineering the Institutions”


More by :  Dr. Gopal Singh

Top | Analysis

Views: 3363      Comments: 13

Comment I appreciate that politics is about making choices and there is no utopia. All parties and the electorates are not all perfect.

That is not the issue. It is about what the leadership is doing to reduce corruption. Is there a genuine attempt to reduce it that is visible to the electorate? Are they really committed to it?

Take the case of BJP MLAs from Karnataka who went on the infamous junkets. What is BJP doing about them? To say that it is up to the Speaker and the electorate to deal with them is a farce. What is the party doing about it? Are they being reprimanded and fined? Is the public money they wasted being recovered from them or at least in part from the party and returned to the exchequer?

I live in eastern U.P., part of one of the most mismanaged state and perhaps poorest in the country. Our MLA from BJP went on another such overseas junket with Azam Khan and Company. Why did the BJP party let her go? Is there any system of control and code of conduct that these party members have to adhere to? Just saying that the party high command regrets this error in judgment is not enough. It is in fact insult of the public intelligence. Show some leadership and take some action to instill public confidence.

And then there is Mr. Yedurappa. He was thrown out because he was corrupt. Now he is welcomed back because he brings back some vote bank with him. Not exactly a decision that inspires the electorate.

Is there a clearly articulated plan to screen the background of the candidates who will be fielded in the upcoming elections? Would the information be made available to the public? How about the funding? Would the data about who contributed and how much be made public? I can just go on and on. May be BJP is really doing all this properly. But, please let the electorates know and stop feeding us the rhetoric!

As far as Congress and AAP alliance is concerned, if AAP lets Congress participate in the governance and offers them any favors or immunity in return, they will lose their support as well. They were being condemned by BJP for not taking the responsibility to form the government. Now they are being condemned to accept the congress support. BJP is just not genuine in their charge against AAP.

10-Jan-2014 10:37 AM

Comment One must find answer why the BJP is aiming to achieve 272 seats in Loksabha. if they are prepared to be corrupt like congress, they can very well run the govt with BJP having 170 seats and 100+ coming from coalition.

What necessitates BJP to get 272+ seats in parliament ?

One must find answer why the Congress is ready to make compromise with AAP to keep the BJP away ? Afterall, since BJP is also corrupt it will not offend Congress on the issue of corruption, isn't it ?

Since in democracy, people need to choose among the ‘availables’, we need to differentiate between ‘the worse’ and ‘the bad’, saying that both are not good just equates bad to worse, which is disastrous.

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
10-Jan-2014 04:24 AM

Comment It is interesting to read your opinion predicting the future and how all these parties will collude to deceive the public. It is also very interesting to note that you listed a host of parties except the BJP.

If we look back objectively in the recent history, the track record of BJP to fight corruption within and outside the party has been dismal. It is undeniable right now that people of this country, particularly the urban educated, are fed up with corruption in government and are actively participating in the political process to weed it out.

As I have said before, Mr. Modi brings with him a track record of decisive leadership and problem solving abilities. He needs to display those right now by cleaning the BJP of its corrupt elements and clearly declaring the platform for the future course of actions. Unless he does that, he will continue to loose momentum he had with the young urban voters. He cannot exclusively count on riding the anti-UPA wave any more since he is no more the only alternative.

10-Jan-2014 01:12 AM

Comment Mr. Singh, you are writing article or here advocating AAP, wait for May 2014, and like Mr. Chiranjivi of Andhra, Mr. Kejriwal's role end with May election and he would fad out from the scene giving space and batton to RAHUL GANDHI as chiranjivi merge his party in Congress. Try to be nuetral.

09-Jan-2014 21:32 PM

Comment The real motive and face of AAP will came clear after May 2014, until than, what ever u think or say is right. But alas India lost another 5 years for the AAP honeymoon of over enthustic public. And by default Congress with the help of AAP, SP, BSP, RJD, DMK and CPI(M) form again Govt and public got the impression all POLITICAL PARTIES ARE bastards.

The phrase all are CHOR - don't make difference between who created the system and who is bound to follow. This is the biggest achievement of Congress to generalize that all are chor - inspite of the fact that other parties are never in a position to change and whole corrupt system is created by them,.

r k gaur
09-Jan-2014 11:50 AM

Comment The day AAP announced plan to take public opinion on decision to form govt or not (without naming it 'refrendum'), I was upset and amazed at absence of foresight in leadership of AAP. Reason why I felt so, is indicated in misplaced and shortsighted thought that Mr. Bhushan expressed a couple of days back.

There is no wrong in doing gimmick by political party for good of the nation, but did it do good ? I don't think so.

That's why, if AAP is committed to really serve the nation then they must maintain a small size focused to the issue of corruption rather than playing in hands of congress and media projecting AAP as the 'third alternative' which will serve interest of only and only Congress, certainly not serve interest of the nation.

dinesh kumar bohre
09-Jan-2014 02:22 AM

Comment I am not privileged to any AAP inside information. However, I believe that asking the people through a referendum whether to form the government was a political move. Sometimes, politics, tactics and sincere objectives all have to be put together to accomplish goals. All is fine as long as core principles are not compromised. If they had not gone to the people they would have been squarely blamed by BJP to have back door deals with Congress and most people would have believed it. The BJP is still blaming them but most people do not believe it.

07-Jan-2014 05:33 AM

Comment AAP must maintain its status quo as 'warrior' against corruption and for good governance, it should not pursue to become the army-General and try to take lead in every issue. The example of Prashant Bhushan getting cought in speaking non-sense is an example why they should keep their objective limited at this stage.

[Although I am surprise how can an eminent lawer such as Mr. Bhushan keep such poor understanding of administration, in fact I was not happy when AAP declared to conduct a refrendum to know from people if they should form govt or not, because then this example can be quoted by anti-national eliments and the same can be asked in more non-sense ideas]

Just by maintaining their position as 'warrior against corruption' an by setting up examples on good governance continuously, they are bound to create huge public preassure on the Congress and BJP and other parties, huge public support to AAP will complell them take similar actions are AAP does.

But if they try to share national stage with wider issues, it will dilute their current efforts both in terms of news coverage and public support.

Better they create an understanding within masses of Delhi that only AAP can pull them out of their miseries and continue onslaught on corruption and scams, putting both bureaucrats and politicians behind bars.

Dinesh Kumar Bohre
07-Jan-2014 01:50 AM

Comment Your point on Prashant Bhushan is on the mark. AAP is a young party and will experience growing pains. If they have national ambitions they will have to develop their national platform quickly with their leaders and indoctrinate their troops to understand it and articulate it to public without injecting their personal views. BJP and particularly the Congress have similar problems and have found it difficult to keep their people from mouthing off without much thought process. It can hurt AAP more since they are a young party.

As far as "cutting the country in pieces" with give away programs is concerned, I would like to suggest that we do not jump to conclusions. Let them have a few weeks to work out and explain how they will maintain the fiscal responsibilities in their governance. BJP and Congress have promoted and continue to promote giveaways for their electoral gains as well. More important than that is the massive amount of "take away" of public funds they have engineered over the years in various scams. Consider just the black money in foreign banks and what impact it will have on our economy if it was recovered and deployed in proper manner.

07-Jan-2014 01:08 AM

Comment Assam Gana Parishad was born with similar aspirations and fizzled out. Telugu Desam party is also born along similar lines, but with a tinge of caste in behind later fizzled out. The media and others are hyping too much on AAP Before people realize that, the country is back to stone age in terms of economics. To run the country maturity and knowledge of history & society. Running on 50% cuts will surely ensure that they will cut the country in pieces. Prashant Bhushan talking about plebiscite and how about having plebiscite in all Indian states ??

06-Jan-2014 13:13 PM

Comment Author says--The poor and minorities are beginning to understand it that they are being exploited by opportunistic politicians - -when this happens ,there will be real revolution in our country, there will be real democracy and not a mock democracy as we have now .I pray it should happen soon and People should bury the opportunistic politicians alive.

satpal amar
06-Jan-2014 11:17 AM

Comment I am not well aware of Dr. Sonawala incident. I will urge you to write to Mr. Kejriwal and bring it to light. He should own up to any mistakes or hastes in judgement by his party members or volunteers and issue appropriate apologies as well as insure that such mistakes are not repeated.

If you feel that AAP offers a better alternative and Arvind is the right leader, then please do not be disappointed and move to the sidelines. Work to make sure that the the party stays on the right course or support any other party that you feel offers better alternative. In any event, I will urge you to stay involved in the Indian political process. It needs involvement of all educated people.

05-Jan-2014 21:10 PM

Comment I was all for the AAP right from the word 'go' until the Dr. Soonawala incident. That's when I felt Arvind ought to have censured the Mumbai branch of the AAP for rushing to condemn the good doctor and yelling "guilty of rape" without waiting for forensic evidence and not waiting for the due process of law. Dr. Soonawala had to go into hiding to feel safe from the police. No citizen should have to do that. That's when I, and I think the entire Parsi community, felt that the AAP would only be as good as its party members even if Arvind was different - honourable and with India's interest at heart. I still wish him well and hope that he not only inspires candidates with squeaky clean records to join his party but is able to contain in no uncertain terms, any activity that isn't above board.

May I also add that I think the people don't buy the petty politics of other parties when they say things like he's using government cars or that he has a house with five rooms. I think he rebuts such pettiness well.

05-Jan-2014 19:15 PM

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