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Issue No.: 560 | February 2014
 

Is This India’s Spring Revolution?

H. R. Bapu Satyanarayana
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AAP’s voters will have to rise above caste and religion. Ideology has to put to rest the fight over secularism as it is meaningless. For in the ultimate analysis it is truth, honesty and assurance of clean governance that matters

Anna Hazare against corruption and demand for a Jan Lokpal Bill and the many twists and turns it took has been reported in details in several issues of Freedom First. Deadlines for passing the Lokpal Bill (LPB) were getting postponed with a parliamentary committee charged with coming up with their recommendations. Meanwhile a difference in strategy arose between Anna Hazare and Kejriwal, his close associate. The latter was convinced that to get the Bill passed it was necessary for anti-corruption movement to enter the political arena. Hazare disagreed and the two parted company. On 2 October 2012 (Gandhiji’s birthday) Kejriwal announced the launch of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). He explained "we tried everything and now we will enter politics to fight from within. He clarified, "our paths may be different from now on, but our goal is the same.” That is how the seed for revolution was sown which is now showing all the signs of growing into a mighty weapon to shake the system to make it aam aadmi friendly, a symbol of true democracy.

Choice of the symbol

Whoever may be the inspiration behind choosing the Jhadu (the broom) as election symbol, it was a master stroke. It is the symbolism that has a potent effect to move the voters. The broom is a symbol of cleaning the dust and its political significance cannot be lost.

The AAP strategy

It was necessary to break the myth that a huge amount of money is needed to fight elections. What better way than to collect money from the aam aadmi by selling the common broom for a modest sum and to consider it as a donation for the Party. It created an instant rapport with the people. On top of it his/her name being seen on the website of the Party acted as a powerful motive and even moral compulsion to vote for the Party. It created an instant rapport with the people. On top of it his/her name being seen on the website of the Party acted as a powerful motive, even moral compulsion, to vote for the Party. That is how such small amounts collected from millions of people add up to a tidy sum. It was reported that the whole election was fought with as little as Rs.20 crores! The very novelty of it must have attracted the people. It was no surprise when volunteers in great numbers from various states joined. It is reported that even young employed people from outside India took a sabbatical and came to help the election campaign.
  
Kejriwal an IIT graduate resigning from a well paid job where the scope for corruption was great plunging into the uncertainty of electoral arena with a message of fighting corruption was seen as a symbol of honesty, courage, sacrifice and personal conviction. Besides, it was an open secret how he was hounded by the administration which did not deter him from his goal which proved to be a most powerful motive for aam aadmi and the youth of the country disgusted with the criminality and corruption that had reached the nadir to voluntarily rally around him. This paid handsome electoral dividends to AAP.

Jai Ho AAP

Ever since Bharatiya Janata Party [BJP] nominated Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate for 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the political scenario in India has been fast changing. The stage is now set for no holds barred political verbal tirade between Modi and Rahul Gandhi. Modi calls Rahul ‘Shahzada’ (crown prince) as all indications are that he is going to be the Congress mascot to turn the electoral fortunes in its favour. It has spurred the mainstream English TV channels to vie with one another to indulge in animated discussions on the results of public opinion surveys and the political fortunes based on the game of numbers. While the surveys till now give a lead to BJP, the numbers do not add up to the magic figure of 272 for a simple majority. BJP felt emboldened with the result of midterm assembly elections in which the Party scored decisive victory over the Congress in Chattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh and winning 32 seats out of assembly strength of 70 in Delhi. The Congress, on the other hand, suffered the most humiliating defeat for being in power for past 15 years; it managed to win only 8 seats. Shiela Dikshit the incumbent Chief Minister was comprehensively defeated by Kejriwal. The stunning showing by the fledging AAP barely a year old took everybody by surprise. 

Taking a leaf out of AAP’s principled stand of fighting against corruption, BJP leader Harshavardan when called upon to form the govt. declined saying that he does not have the numbers. This was a departure from the attitude of what has come to be known as ‘horse trading’. The Lt. Governor next invited Kejriwal, the leader of AAP, to form the govt. Meanwhile, the Congress announced that it would give unconditional support to AAP and BJP said that it would give constructive support. From the beginning Kejriwal has been saying that since both BJP and the Congress are corrupt, his Party will not have any understanding with them. Kejriwal asked for 10 days time to convey his Party’s decision. AAP, in an unprecedented step, utilized the period to directly approach the people of Delhi through various means including electronic media to ascertain their views whether his Party should form the govt. or not. When overwhelming support in favour of forming the govt. was received in the referendum, AAP agreed to form the govt. Unconditional support by the Congress must have been a factor too, though the Congress changed its tune saying that the support is issue based. Anyway AAP was unfazed saying that they are prepared to step down if the Congress pulled the plug the very next day. The, general perception, however, was that it is not likely to happen. The reason was obvious; firstly, the Congress had to refurbish its image in time for 2014 General Elections and if it pulls down AAP it would be badly mauled in the 2014 elections and secondly, by aligning with AAP to facilitate formation of govt. despite having only 8 seats against 32 seats of BJP it felt it was scoring a point. Besides it knew that BJP was making a virtue of its decision of not indulging in horse trading because there was no scope for it. However, its larger interest was to thwart the ambition of BJP to make Narendra Modi the next prime minister for it saw AAP as playing a bigger role in national scene in 2014 general elections. 

The perception is that whichever political party wins Delhi would rule in the Centre. Now that both BJP and the Congress have been swept aside by the AAP broom, wonder whether Kejriwal is going perform another sleight of hand. All developments hitherto appear bizarre and a sense of surrealism prevails. Kejriwal of AAP has emerged as a potential challenger to upset the electoral calculations of both the Congress and BJP. Thus far Modi was targeting Rahul Gandhi but the irony is that now Modi has to target Kejriwal also. As events are unfolding every move of Kejriwal seems to confound and confuse both the parties. Both must be feeling perplexed not knowing how to counter  Kejriwal’s decision of shunning the hallmarks of pomp and power of VVIP culture of red beacon on his car, personal security, occupying modest living house in preference to sprawling govt. bungalow and a voluntary cut in his salary etc. Though Kejriwal’s action are not unique as there are several other examples but he must thank the media for highlighting them.

Kejriwal’s personal integrity is unquestionable. He personifies the image of an aam aadmi in every respect. Surely, to take on Kejriwal is tantamount to criticizing the aam aadmi and obviously both parties cannot afford to do it. AAP has now announced that it is going to field candidates in many states for Lok Sabha elections and people are flocking to it to get membership. In a TV discussion senior AAP member Prashant Bhushan predicts that they may win 50 seats. It is not unlikely since many influential persons are joining the party and it may even see members of other parties including the Congress to make a beeline to join AAP. Now AAP has to rise above the image of a small fledging party and acquire the stature of a National Party to challenge both the Congress and BJP. They will have to gear up to be prepared to face tough questions. Apart from the aspects of development, foreign policy, economy, the other bone of contention will be secularism. Issues of Hindutva and Muslim appeasement will be freely bandied to prove who is more secular. AAP’s voters will have to rise above caste and religion. Ideology has to put to rest the fight over secularism as it is meaningless. For in the ultimate analysis it is truth, honesty and assurance of clean governance that matters. With the Election Commission gearing up for the General Election in April-May the attention of all the parties would be directed towards the preparation. This time around manifestoes of every party will highlight on, transparency, good governance, and checking corruption

The AAP effect

The success of AAP in elections and delivering its promise of free water supply up to 20,000 liters and reduction in power tariff within a week of taking over coupled with its shunning of VVIP culture has had a ripple effect in many states. Besides AAP’s pioneering zeal in fighting criminality and corruption and transparency in administration has become infectious raising people’s expectations. Anna Hazare who was lukewarm in the beginning has come out in praise of Kejriwal. Definitely, these factors will help AAP in receiving handsome electoral dividends in 2014 elections. In fact it is AAP’s effect that hastened the passing of Lokpal Bill in the parliament and many other happenings in political front which was unthinkable earlier. In short it is no exaggeration to say that the emergence of AAP has changed the political ethos of the country bringing about a role reversal for by empowering the aam aadmi, it has helped to make a course correction to steer democracy on the right path

H. R. BAPU SATYANARAYANA is a freelance writer based in Mysore
Email: what_option@yahoo.co.in
 
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When Ambition Mocks his Useful Toil

S. V. Raju
 

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The Aam Admi Party (AAP) - the New Neo-socialists !

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Can the Aam Ami Party bring the change?

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Is This India’s Spring Revolution?

H. R. Bapu Satyanarayana
 

The Liberal Position

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