About Me

My Photo

Geek by profession, thinker/writer/artist by passion. Part-time blogger,social media enthusiast and a tramp by nature :) A Man Of Mud


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Scaling Up AAP Model And New Politics

AAP Supporters

Picking up the thread from my last post, Aam Aadmi Party's tremendous success in Delhi polls and speculations on its ability to deliver dominating the public discourse indicates that AAP may be Delhi based party, it is now a pan-Indian phenomenon. Support for AAP all across India and even abroad suggest a positive anti-establishment sentiment. Mostly, anti-establishment moniker is applied to subversive elements,especially the Naxalites and secessionist which seek to overthrow the state but AAP's anti-establishment posture is more about going back to the fundamental principles the Indian State was founded on and against the predatory system that has now become the establishment. During the high decibel negative campaign against AAP,the competitors charged the latter for negativism which is both ironic and somewhat ridiculous, the Delhi voters interpreted it as such. The fact is, AAP is heralding new politics which is difficult to understand when looking at it from traditional point of view.

The country it seems, is ready for the new politics but Arvind Kejriwal has ruled out going national now. Yet, AAP already has dedicated volunteers in all across the country. So the most pertinent  question would be , is AAP's model of new politics scalable ? If the party itself doesn't expand aggressively, can other parties emulate its model of politics and electioneering , especially regional parties, some of which even openly came out in support of AAP, even though the latter never solicited it.  Can political parties reconcile their respective ideologies with that of AAP ?  Does AAP even have a neatly defined ideology ?

Some experts lament on the lack of a well defined ideology of AAP  but what they forget is this party is not a traditional party, it is driven more by real, tangible ideas rather than rigid ideologies with abstract, academic terminology which largely turn out hollow on the ground. Let's not forget, AAP think-tank has some of the best academic minds with sound understanding of socio-economic-political realities.  Lack of traditional ideology couldn't be lack of foresight, their meticulously drafted manifestos defy any such notion.

Before proceeding further, I should mention that organisations like RSS and the now diminished Left do have ideologically motivated cadres on the ground who may not be lured by personal interest but they seek to make India what it is not or what the constitutional fathers envisioned India as. They tend to wave their saffron and red flags more than the tricolor. The thing about RSS is that it wilfully ignores a large segment of population because it needs itself juxtapositioned against them to be recognizable. Cultural purification, rewriting history and establishing its own brand of nationalism may appeal to a section of people but it doesn't simply have pan-India appeal, elections are mostly fought on local issues not on questions of foreign policies. All it can do is consolidate Sangh Parivar's core vote-bank but it doesn't seek universality in the first place.

The major difference between politics India's ancien regime and the new politics of AAP is that latter is built upwards from the ground.  This is the primary reason, some people question if AAP can deliver, they look at it from a macro perspective which is understandable given the  feudal structure of our current political establishment. Political leaders seldom have connect with the common people except superficially, the are hierarchies that stand between them and the people. Of course, hierarchies are necessary in functioning of organisations but in this case the hierarchical levels are determined by amount of political power concentrated there rather than responsibilities towards the people. It is not uncommon to find most of the leaders as well as important party workers having taken to politics as a profession and in some cases to further their or their loyalists' business interests. While legislators are seldom seen on road after the end of the election season, their point-persons do, not to connect with the common people but secure political capital.

(source: Economic Times)
Holding and nurturing distinct religious, ethnic, caste-based and even interest-based identity is in fact a good thing in a pluralistic democratic society such as ours but leaders based out of them should be single-mindedly working to help people of their communities meet basic needs are met, the grievances addressed. They should make sure all sections of the population become part of the mainstream without giving their up their religious/caste/class identity. Yet they are often found attempting to segregate these communities, treating them as herds so as to extract and showcase their own political power as a bargain tactic. These practices are so deeply entrenched that even people who have joined politics and continue to work with the best of intents are still hostage to this system. Traditional parties might find it difficult to follow the AAP paradigm without bringing structural changes in their organisations.

As for AAP scaling itself to a national alternative is quite possible despite Arvind expressing the contrary in his speech. If the motivation is to work for the people and not further one's own political ambitions or  a particular ideology, AAP model can be carried forward by its volunteers without requiring the Delhi CM to shift his focus from his state. The party's units in most states already exist and seem quite functional, volunteers have been galvanized by the Delhi electoral results. Perhaps all that the senior leaders need to do is ensure that the fundamental principles remain intact, funding and electoral campaign had been largely crowdsourced, what needs to be seen is if this is the dawn of open source politics in India.