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Issue No.: 561 | March 2014
 

What is this Aam Aadmi Party and What Does it Stand For

S. V. Raju
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The Aam Aadmi Party is the political avatar of ‘India Against Corruption’ (or IAC). Before this re-birth took place the IAC was welcomed by all those who loved India and fretted over their helplessness to do anything about the ubiquitous corruption and had to give in with a "pay the bugger” shrug and get on with whatever it was she or he wanted to get done. This ranged from getting a birth certificate to a death certificate with many occasions in-between when the common man had to approach government departments (including municipal, zilla and District parishads) from time to time.

The IAC began in a small way as an NGO called Parivartan led by Arvind Kejriwal and his work was generally in an around Delhi and its adjuncts Gurgaon(Haryana) and  Noida   (Uttar Pradesh) in which complaints about  electricity and water played a large part. He was soon to become a household name in these parts and his work was truly praiseworthy. For his work and also his involvement and in getting the RTI legislation adopted he deservedly received the Magsaysay Award.

And his success rightly persuaded him to cast his net wider through cyber space. This attracted many young geeks and yuppies in India and their counterpart NRIs overseas to support him. This in turn attracted the media, particularly the electronic media (ever seeking to increase their TRPs; the more the TRPs the more the advertisements. and more the revenues the greater the chance of foreign sponsorships).

Kejriwal (shall we call him ‘The Leader’?) got a wider field to operate from. This was what attracted the geeks’ attention. The fact is there were many movements of this kind elsewhere in India.  One such movement that comes to mind that literally excited the besieged Mumbaikar was the anti-corruption movement launched by Mumbai’s Assistant Municipal Commissioner Khairnar (now retired). It perished because many politicians seeing the vote getting potential of Khairnar’s movement sought to identify themselves as friends of Khairnar. This made him ambitious and he started, for instance, exaggerating. One which caught him out was his declaration that he could produce a truckfull of papers to nail Sharad Pawar. He couldn’t, and as one scribe put it, he couldn’t produce "even a handcart-full”. Khairnar should have shooed away the politicians that swarmed all around him. He should have ignored them. He didn’t.

The IAC caught the attention of the geeks and the yuppies because the ‘The Leader’ "was an IITian and also a government officer in the Income Tax Department (or was it in some other Revenue Department?) - a post which he resigned to lead the people and demand redress in various aspects of their day to day life.  

The IAC ‘received a boost when a common man from Maharashtra, Anna Hazare joined (or was he persuaded’?)  to join the IAC. Anna Hazare, a true Gandhian, was a permanent thorn for the Maharashtra Government. Much before IAC, he led protest movements in various parts of Maharashtra and would go on fast if his demands were not met. Most of the time he got what he wanted, and on those occasions when the government was adamant and Anna Hazare’s fast reached dangerous levels, Sharad Pawar would intervene or be asked to intervene and he would get Hazare to withdraw after some settlement or the other on an issue which led him to fast. Anna Hazare joined the IAC movement and thanks to cyberspace and the geeks and the yuppies, it gave him all an All India presence. Hazare on the national stage was hugely successful.

The success of the IAC movement aroused ‘The Leader’ to the possibilities of converting the movement into a political party (it is likely the Socialist Crorepati and the Marxist Professor cum Psephologist persuaded ‘The Leader’ to part company with Anna Hazare if the latter was not willing to be a part of the proposed Party). ‘The Leader’ parted company with his guru (at least that’s what he called Anna Hazare). The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was formed with Rs. One Crore as seed money donated by the Socialist Crorepati and ideological inputs by the Marxist professor. The troika decided to test the strength of AAP in the Delhi Assembly elections.

The circumstances of the birth of this party and the experience of ‘The Leader’ explain his obsession with Water and Electricity! As for his FIRs against Mukesh Ambani, Murli Deora et al, since he has moved up the ladder and is now referred to as Ex-CM his targets also are no longer the lowly district or department official but big names from big Corporations and for good measure big Ministers ex. or otherwise! 

Postscript

The above editorial appeared in the print edition written around the time ‘The Leader’ resigned as CM. Hence this postscript for the web edition.

‘The Leader’ conveyed his and his government’s intention to resign on Friday 14th February and resigned on Saturday 15th demanding alongside the dissolution of the Delhi Assembly. His 7-week reign had served its purpose. He and his entourage had managed to be centre-stage and dominate the front pages of the print and visual media for 49 days simply by reneging on his pre-election promise to the electorate, that he would have nothing to do with the Congress or the BJP.

Having lost the elections to the Assembly, remember he came behind the BJP in numbers and in percentage, he eagerly grasped the support extended by a routed Indira Congress, which Party also needed to be in the news. It turned out to be a mutually beneficial arrangement. The opportunism of the Indira Congress since 1969 is known. ‘The Leader’ has proved that he too can be an opportunist when required. Look at the bonanza ‘The Leader’ harvested: 49 days in power to do as he and his entourage pleased; and when they decided to call it a day the moolah that poured into the AAP’s coffers. According to a report in The Sunday Times of February 16:

"...the party coffers dramatically increased by 700% by Saturday, a day after Arvind Kejriwal quit as CM.

"Reversing the trend of slack growth, AAP collected Rs.27.78 lakh from 1,072 donors (at the time of filing this report) on Saturday – the highest in a day in February and the second highest in 2014 after Rs.63 lakhs on January 23...”  

Not bad for a broken promise!

Perhaps the ones to suffer during this 7 week period were the 100 officers who were transferred whatever the reasons. This is in keeping with practice followed by the Indira Congress though not as swiftly as was done by the AAP government.

It won’t be a surprise if after the Lok Sabha elections the Indira Congress (God forbid) has the chance to form a coalition government and invites the AAP, they can expect a positive response from the AAP. After ‘The Leader’ would not by inhibited by such a silly thing as a promise to....
Remember that ditty in the movie ‘Annie Get Your Gun’ -. "Anything you can do, I can do better. I can do anything better than you”!
   
Meanwhile Anna Hazare had a parting kick to give to his erstwhile Shishya. While promising Mamata Banerjee his support in her Prime Ministerial ambitions, he said in a statement issued on February 27:  

"I had handed over a 17-point agenda letter to Kejriwal and told him that I would support him if he agrees to it. But till date, neither Kejriwal nor his Party has given me any assurance on it. It is now very clear that these (AAP and Kejriwal) people are thinking of power more than of the nation. (Even if AAP comes to power) the nation will not have any bright future as there will be no difference between them and other parties."

SVR
 
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Other Articles in this Issue

Editorial

What is this Aam Aadmi Party and What Does it Stand For

S. V. Raju
 

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