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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go 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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

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