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

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    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.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora