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

    Video Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers US Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.