News / Asia

New Political Party Mounts Challenge in India

Volunteers of the Aam Aadmi or Common's Man's Party getting ready to campaign, New Delhi, Nov. 29, 2013. (Anjana Pasricha for VOA)  Volunteers of the Aam Aadmi or Common's Man's Party getting ready to campaign, New Delhi, Nov. 29, 2013. (Anjana Pasricha for VOA)
x
Volunteers of the Aam Aadmi or Common's Man's Party getting ready to campaign, New Delhi, Nov. 29, 2013. (Anjana Pasricha for VOA)
Volunteers of the Aam Aadmi or Common's Man's Party getting ready to campaign, New Delhi, Nov. 29, 2013. (Anjana Pasricha for VOA)
Anjana Pasricha
As the Indian capital heads to polls next week to choose a local government, all eyes are on a new political party which is mounting a challenge to mainstream parties with its promise to clean up the country’s politics.  It was born out of a civil society anti-corruption movement which put graft in the public spotlight.

The house in Central Delhi from where the Aam Aadmi or Common Man’s Party runs its campaign buzzes with activity as scores of volunteers prepare for a last push to gather support ahead of Wednesday’s vote in New Delhi.

They range from young professionals to housewives to students. Two years ago, many of them took part in massive street protests in the Indian capital demanding an end to corruption.

That anti graft movement petered out. When one of its main architects, former civil servant, Arvind Kejriwal, launched a political party last year vowing to clean up public life, they joined his campaign. They knock on doors to woo voters. They prepare posters and campaign material. They help people to enlist as voters.

IT professional Sandeep Bisht quit his assignment in London and is in Delhi to help the Aam Aadmi Party's campaign, New Delhi, Nov. 29, 2013. (Anjana Pasricha for VOA)IT professional Sandeep Bisht quit his assignment in London and is in Delhi to help the Aam Aadmi Party's campaign, New Delhi, Nov. 29, 2013. (Anjana Pasricha for VOA)
x
IT professional Sandeep Bisht quit his assignment in London and is in Delhi to help the Aam Aadmi Party's campaign, New Delhi, Nov. 29, 2013. (Anjana Pasricha for VOA)
IT professional Sandeep Bisht quit his assignment in London and is in Delhi to help the Aam Aadmi Party's campaign, New Delhi, Nov. 29, 2013. (Anjana Pasricha for VOA)
An  I -T (Information Technology)  professional, Sandeep Bisht is one such volunteer. He has quit his assignment in London and returned to his home city to help “transform India’s politics.”  

“What I want is fair governance, people should have some basic rights, like I have seen abroad, the basic requirements of the citizens are there….you should have full electricity, pure water, your work should be done on time,” said Bisht.

The Aam Aadmi Party’s bid for power in Delhi was initially dismissed as far-fetched in a city where India’s two main parties -- the Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party hold sway and where the Congress has ruled for the last 15 years.

But polls show that the activists turned politicians have made surprising headway. They are tapping into the deep anger at massive corruption scams and the disillusionment among ordinary Indians, many of whom yearn to change the existing political culture.

The Aam Aadmi Party is staying away from the traditional support bases of India’s political parties: community, caste, religion. Their single point agenda is to sweep away corruption. The symbol they have picked: a broom. Their supporters wear white caps with the words ”I am the common man.”

The party’s chief strategist, Yogendra Yadav, says they are striking a chord.

“If we go by two kinds of evidences, one is a series of surveys, and the second is just the feel on the street that you get, something is changing. What we know for sure is that Delhi’s two party politics has ended. It is a triangular contest, that everyone is conceding," Yadav said. "Who is number one is what people are contesting. My own sense is people usually underestimate an up and coming party.”

In a country where political parties have deep pockets, the new party is trying to garner support on a shoe string budget. The modest house from where it runs its campaign has been lent by a businessman. It cannot afford expensive billboards, so it has pasted its posters on the back of auto rickshaws, the mode of transportation popular with the socio economic class it is wooing. It relies on door to door campaigning in poor and middle class homes where people are fed up with the bribes they have to give to get ration cards and licenses and livid at runaway food prices.

Yogendra Yadav feels paucity of resources is not a handicap for a party taking on the entrenched ones for being corrupt.  

“Lack of money is precisely our visiting card, it is our calling card. People look at the posters of other parties, find this one poster which is somewhat clumsy, which is not done by a professional, and they connect to it," said Yadav. "They see a political party trying to live within very limited means. This is an experience they have everyday.”   

Although the Aam Aadmi Party has established its presence, it still faces huge challenges. The most difficult: to convince skeptics that an untested, year-old party can be politically viable.

Only a handful of its candidates are familiar faces. They have not been able to steer away from populist measures used by mainstream parties to garner votes. Their manifesto promises to slash electricity tariffs by half and provide 700 liters of water free to every family.

Some voters in New Delhi question their ability to deliver on such promises. Others are either confused or unconvinced about disturbing the status quo.

Charu Sahni, a teacher, believes the older the better.  "That’s it. Yes, you can give a chance to the new one, but it’s again like taking a chance. Whatever the old people are, they are experienced,” said Sahni.  

Andrew Robin Patrick who is a professional said a chance must be given. "Risk factor is there. But we should give a chance, but I don’t know what will happen afterwards,” he said .

Political analyst Satish Misra with the Observer Research Foundation doubts the party will be able to translate the huge hype it has generated into a significant number of seats in the Delhi state Assembly.

“This particular party should be able to make a dent yes, but while the Aam Aadmi Party is able to attract disgruntled elements, they don’t have a base of their own,” said Misra.

The Aam Aadmi Party is unperturbed. It says its dream is to return power to the people, and it can do it either by forming the government or questioning those in power from opposition benches.

Political analysts say that if the party manages to make its presence felt in the capital city, it will bring a whole new dimension into national elections scheduled for next year.

You May Like

Photogallery Oxfam: Ebola Could Be 'Disaster of Our Generation'

Meanwhile, Fidel Castro, the former leader of Cuba, says the Caribbean island nation will 'gladly cooperate' with the US in the fight against Ebola in West Africa More

Multimedia Kobani Fighting Sends 400,000 Refugees to Turkey

Refugees receive help from Turkish authorities and individuals, but say much more is needed More

India’s Ruling Nationalist Party Makes Gains in Regional Elections

Bharatiya Janata Party’s huge margin over its rivals puts it on course to form governments in the northern Haryana and western Maharashtra states More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Abhishek from: Singapore
December 02, 2013 5:38 AM
I am seriously missing on voting in Delhi this time. I am hoping my city get to have people with better political acumen & straight forward development agenda.


by: Davis K. Thanjan from: New York
November 30, 2013 10:48 AM
Amm Admi party is another new political party in the spectrum of political parties in India. Most of the political parties in India are based on religion, ethnicity, regional, language and personality cult, rather than on any unifying ideology. The parties keep on multiplying splitting the voice of the people and make real democratic process hindered by the horse trading between the parties prior to elections and after the elections at every level of politics. The elected representatives are smudged with criminal background and convictions. These elected representatives manipulate the election system by flooding unaccounted money to sustain their hold on power. The ideals of the Aam Admi Party are profound and attractive . But how much inroads the new political party can make into the bastions of the well established political parties is yet to be seen. The future of this new party in India will be determined in the elections in New Delhi. If the Amm Admi win a few seats they will become the power brokers in New Delhi, which will lead them to extend their ideology to rest of India.


by: Rajender Singh from: Jammu
November 30, 2013 5:18 AM
People of India who r frustrated with rotten and corrupt system of Govt are excited with new honest party.


by: rajkumar from: Doha
November 29, 2013 9:58 PM
Well said

In Response

by: girish from: newzealand
November 30, 2013 3:45 PM
good peace of writing. many people are not realizing the fact. its AAP which has created the new game of politics which other parties are forced to follow. compare the manifestos or type of campaigning AAP is doing. BJP and Congress are nowhere near to AAP. this election will teach many lessons to the politicians of this country. oh my sweet india, you deserve this and we owe this to you for a long time.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fighti
X
Zana Omer
October 18, 2014 6:37 PM
The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Syrian Defector Leaks Shocking Photos of Torture Victims

Shocking photographs purporting to show Syrian torture victims are on display at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington. The museum says the graphic images are among thousands of photographs recently smuggled out of Syria by a military policeman-turned-defector. As VOA reporter Julie Taboh reports, the museum says the photos provide further evidence of atrocities committed by the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against its own people.
Video

Video Drought-Stricken California Considers Upgrading Water System

A three-year drought in California is causing a water shortage that is being felt on farms and cities throughout the state. As VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports, water experts, consumers and farmers say California needs to make changes to cope with an uncertain future.
Video

Video TechShop Puts High-tech Dreams Within Reach

Square, a business app and card reader, makes it possible to do credit card transactions through cell phones. But what made Square possible? VOA’s Adrianna Zhang and Enming Liu have the answer.
Video

Video Church for Atheists Goes Global

Atheists, by definition, do not believe in God. So they should have no need of a church. But two years ago, a pair of British stand-up comedians decided to create one. Sanderson Jones and Pippa Evans told the BBC they envisioned “something like church but without God". Their “Sunday Assembly” movement has grown from a single congregation in London to dozens of churches around the world. Reporter Mike Osborne visited with the members of a Sunday Assembly that now meets regularly in Nashville.
Video

Video Robot Locates Unexploded Underwater Mines

Many educators believe that hands-on experience is the best way to learn. Proving that the method works is a project developed by a group of students at the Stevens Institute of Technology, in Hoboken, New Jersey. They rose up to a challenge posted by the U.S. Department of Defense and successfully designed and built an underwater robot for locating submerged unexploded ordnance. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's JFK Hospital Reopens After Temporary Ebola Exposure

JFK Hospital is Liberia’s largest and one of its oldest medical facilities. The hospital had to close temporarily following the deaths of two leading doctors from Ebola. It is now getting back on its feet, with the maternity ward being the first section to reopen. Benno Muchler has more for VOA News from Monrovia.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Expose Generation Gap

Most of the tens of thousands of protesters in Hong Kong are students seeking democracy. Idealistic youths say while the older generation worries about the present, they are fighting for the territory's future. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Hong Kong.
Video

Video Liberians Living in US Struggle From Afar as Ebola Ravages Homeland

More than 8,000 Liberians live in New York City, more than in any other city outside of Liberia itself. As VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports, with the Ebola virus ravaging their homeland, there is no peace of mind for these New Yorkers.
Video

Video Kurds See War-Ravaged Kobani As Political, Emotional Heartland

Intense fighting is continuing between Islamic State militants -- also known as ISIS or ISIL -- and Kurdish forces around the Syrian town of Kobani, on the Turkish border. The U.S. said it carried out at least nine airstrikes against Islamic State positions Friday. Meanwhile the U.N. has warned that hundreds of civilians would be massacred if the town falls to the militants. Henry Ridgwell looks at the strategic significance of the city.

All About America

AppleAndroid