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

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed 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.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs