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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Audio Top 5 Songs for Week Ending May 23

This week's lineup can be summed up like this: 'It's The Same Old Song' - but they're great songs - featuring Walk The Moon, The Weeknd, Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth 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.
Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmakingi
X
Bernard Shusman
May 24, 2015 2:55 PM
According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.
Video

Video Effort Underway to Limit Damage from California Oil Spill

Cleanup crews are working around the clock to remove oil from the waters off the coastal city of Santa Barbara, in California. About 380,000 liters of oil may have leaked out before a rupture in an onshore, underground pipeline was discovered Tuesday. The environmental disaster hit the popular West Coast resort area before the Memorial Day weekend. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports investigators have yet to determine what caused the incident.

VOA Blogs