News / Asia

India's 'Common Man' Party Sees Broad Appeal in Anti-Corruption Stance

A supporter of Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP) cheers after its leader Arvind Kejriwal took an oath as the new chief minister of Delhi during a swearing-in ceremony at Ramlila ground in New Delhi, Dec. 28, 2013.
A supporter of Aam Aadmi (Common Man) Party (AAP) cheers after its leader Arvind Kejriwal took an oath as the new chief minister of Delhi during a swearing-in ceremony at Ramlila ground in New Delhi, Dec. 28, 2013.
Anjana Pasricha
In India, a new party that is promising to end graft and provide good governance has taken power in the capital after making a stunning debut in elections. The party’s emergence could mark a turning point for Indian politics which have long been dominated by issues such as religion, caste and creed.

As the Aam Aadmi Party or Common People’s party began the task of governing the politically sensitive Indian capital Monday, it was not just Delhi’s residents who were watching closely.

The one-year-old party made political waves when it won 40 per cent of the seats earlier this month in Delhi’s elections. It drew even more attention when it consulted the city’s people before agreeing to form a government with support from the Congress Party because it did not have a majority.

Independent political analyst Ajoy Bose in New Delhi says the party represents a much bigger phenomenon than just a change of a local government. One of its unique features is a new brand of citizenship politics in a country unfamiliar with the concept.

“They are talking about a more participatory democracy that the voters also actually participate in policy making," said Bose. "There is a much stronger connect between the government officials and political leaders with people. Now given the context of Indian politics at this point, when the public perception of leaders are fairly low, and the main reason is that they have got completely disconnected and also the fact that they [are] probably, basically a very, selfish, corrupt breed of people, this comes as a breath of fresh air."

Bose says Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal's electoral success has helped break through a cynicism about politics.

Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal talks on phone as he assumes office of the Chief Minister of Delhi, New Delhi, Dec. 28, 2013.Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal talks on phone as he assumes office of the Chief Minister of Delhi, New Delhi, Dec. 28, 2013.
x
Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal talks on phone as he assumes office of the Chief Minister of Delhi, New Delhi, Dec. 28, 2013.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal talks on phone as he assumes office of the Chief Minister of Delhi, New Delhi, Dec. 28, 2013.
Kejriwal demonstrated his unique style at his swearing in ceremony Saturday. He rode a crowded metro train to the event, which was held at a public park packed not with dignitaries, but with thousands of ordinary men and women.

Political observers say the party, which was born out of a popular anti-corruption movement, has tapped into deep anger with mainstream political parties. It has connected with an electorate fed up with political parties which have long wooed voters on the basis of religion, caste and community and ignored good governance.

Satish Misra of the Observer Research Foundation in New Delhi says the Aam Aadmi party, also called “Aap,” has rung the alarm bell for mainstream parties.

“The kind of identity politics that has been pursued in last two decades - that will start changing. The voice of AAP [Aam Aadmi Party] was represented by this new middle class, also by the class which has aspirations yet no means to achieve that. It has jolted the political class out of slumber and they will have to take note of the kind and style of politics that AAP has pursued in Delhi,” said Misra.

Many hurdles lie ahead for a government which is promising to root out graft. One of the first pledges made by Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal after taking office is to create an anti-bribery helpline. The party has also promised to create more schools, give the city good roads, give a limited quantity of free water to households and slash electricity tariffs.

But the high expectations created may not be easy to meet. Political observers say the road ahead will be tough for the fledgling party. It has no experience in governance.   

And political commentator Ajoy Bose says they will also have to watch out for those not interested in clean government.

“Trying to govern a place like Delhi in an honest and transparent and effective manner would immediately bring them against very deeply entrenched powerful interests. These are very powerful lobbies in various sectors. Whether it is the water tanker mafia or sections of the police, local politicians, these are people who are not going to roll over and die. They could seriously sabotage governance,” said Bose.

But for the time being, the new party’s debut, just months ahead of national elections, is a threat to the two mainstream parties - the Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Senior leader Prashant Bhushan has announced his party’s intention of taking the Aam Aadmi Party’s footprint beyond the capital.   

“Wherever we have a reasonable party machinery and a good candidate available, we are going to contest the Lok Sabha [parliament's lower house] elections from those constituencies,” said Bhushan.

Political commentators say as in Delhi, the new party could mount a challenge to the two main parties in other urban centers, and could force them to rethink their entire political strategy for national elections.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Indranil Mukherjee from: Howrah
January 01, 2014 11:01 PM
The Aam Aadmi Party has huge challenges ahead. Agree fully with the views expressed above. Led by Arvind Kejrival, am sure its going to do well. Whatever happens to AAP, it surely has brought back issues of fighting corruption(something deeply rooted in society) into focus. Besides the emphasis on leading simple lives by leaders is commendable. Its a refreshing change and could be a game changer of how politics is done in India. No longer does a leader have to wear white dhoti kurta (and be surrounded by commandoes and travel in a convoy of big cars with red beacon flashing) but may be dressed as an ordinary man and sitting next to us in a bus while commuting.
In Response

by: Vinod R from: M.E
January 02, 2014 12:47 PM
Politics of convenience! AAP to form Government in Delhi with scam-tainted CONGRESS’s support .Before Assembly election, Arvind kejriwal criticised the Congress Government in Delhi for corruption in last fifteen years. He in fact, went on to announce that he would fight Delhi Assembly election against Shiela Dikshit and called her as a corruption symbol and promised to send her to jail if voted to power. NOW Congress-AAP tie-up makes Delhi CM Kejriwal sees no evil in Shiela Dikshit.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More