It is a disgraceful aspect of Indian politics that the command of the national and the regional parties has become confined to a few families. There are a few exceptions but they are mere exceptions. If this trend continues then a danger will be created for democracy in the country. This danger is knocking at our doors thanks to the magnanimity of the political parties and ‘big’ leaders, but they are busy making fun of the people of the country. Someone is trying to ‘fix’ the price of votes while others are sitting in the hope that power will itself come walking towards them. But when somebody exposes their corrupt political practices, then all of them go into ‘attack’ mode. When Arvind Kejriwal recently launched the Aam Aadmi Party, the response of the political parties was along expected lines.
Statements came from leaders who do not even have any public support. Statements came from leaders who have never contested elections but became Ministers. Statements also came from a few leaders whose standing in politics rests only on their closeness to some big leader. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress said the same thing : ‘there are many political parties in the country, one more party has come in the arena and we welcome it’. ‘Welcome it’ ? Not so long ago these leaders made fun of the power of the public. They have forgotten that in the agitation for the Lokpal Bill, the entire country had supported Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal. They got such public support which the BJP and the Congress party cannot get even after spending crores of rupees. The media also understood the signals of their masters. The day the Aam Aadmi Party was launched, the news of the launch was missing from the media. One reason for this might be that the media of the country has become a puppet in the hands of the industrialists. And the other reason is that the politics of the country is now being seen as the common man versus the exploitative class. On the one hand there are the poor people, farmers, labourers, Dalits, tribals, backward classes and the Minorities in the country while on the other hand there are all the political parties, industrialists, officials, rich and powerful people. But the question is : on which side Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party ? We had a long conversation with Arvind Kejriwal and gathered information about the ideology, organisation and leadership of the Aam Aadmi Party.
It is true that lakhs of people came onto the streets demanding the Jan Lokpal against corruption and all the political parties were exposed. During the hunger strike at Jantar Mantar the health of Arvind Kejriwal began deteriorating and it seemed that the Government had made a harsh decision that if Kejriwal has to die, let him die, but their demands would not be heard. It was then that a group of distinguished personalities of the country, including General V. K. Singh, voiced the suggestion that there is a need for a political alternative which can change the polluted politics of the country. They favoured a change in which the disguised centres of power set up by the political parties could be demolished and political power could go straight to the public.
The Aam Aadmi Party has made the dreams and the soul of the Constitution as shown during the freedom movement the basis of its ideology an ideology through which a society committed to fairness and justice can be established. The party believes that the dreams which the people had seen during the time of Independence and the situation that prevails today are totally at variance. Why ? Because many important ‘shortages’ remain in the structure which was established to run the country. The structure and the laws which were answerable to the British before Independence, and not to the public of the British era are still prevalent. After Independence, the public became answerable to the leaders. So the exploitation of the public continued. The only difference is that earlier the Britishers used to exploit the people and now our own people are doing the exploitation. So changing the structure made by the British is at the top of the agenda of the Aam Aadmi Party. It wants to create a structure that is answerable to the public, in which the public would have the right to remove those who are corrupt and the leaders who are not fulfilling their responsibilities at any point of time.
Changing the structure made by the British is at the top of the agenda of the Aam Aadmi Party. It wants to create a structure that is answerable to the public, in which the public would have the right to remove those who are corrupt and the leaders who are not fulfilling their responsibilities at any point of time. Decentralisation of power is also on the agenda of the Aam Aadmi Party. The Aam Aadmi Party wants public participation in the making of the laws of the country and the States. The Aam Aadmi Party also wants to make the judiciary pro-people.The movement against corruption is the backbone of the Aam Aadmi Party.
The Aam Aadmi Party has made an assessment of the present system as well. Arvind Kejriwal says that all the decisions in the executive are being taken by a few leaders and officials sitting in the Government, nothing goes as per the public. The Government is different and so is the public there is a big gap between them. This has to be changed and by preparing a Constitution and new guidelines a model has to be developed in which when the people will make decisions by sitting in the Gram Sabha and the Mohalla Sabha, they will be the ‘Government’ for their village and mohalla. This means that decentralisation of power is also on the agenda of the Aam Aadmi Party.
Kejriwal has a different opinion about the legislature too. He believes that there is no participation of the public in the making of laws; instead laws are being imposed on the public. Many laws are being made against the interests of the public and only to provide benefits to a few people. The Aam Aadmi Party wants public participation in the making of the laws of the country and the States.
The Aam Aadmi Party also wants to make the judiciary pro-people. The Aam Aadmi Party wants ‘justice’ in the form of a person’s ‘right’ : the public should have ‘rights’ on the laws. They should not have to go begging a lawyer. Obviously, the party is in support of changing the entire judicial system. What should be the character of politics in the country ? The party will abide by the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi : the party wants to link politics with patriotism, social service and the common man.
The movement against corruption is the backbone of the Aam Aadmi Party. The party wants to set up a strong Jan Lokpal in which the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) would have independence and which has the right to investigate complaints so that corrupt leaders and workers can be sent to jail. The party is of the belief that the cases of corruption drag on for many years. During this period corrupt leaders keep getting elected and keep robbing the country. Often, leaders die, but their cases still remain alive. The Aam Aadmi Party wants a Lokpal in which the investigation work and the case are completed expeditiously, so that the corrupt can be sent to jail within one and a half years, their property can be confiscated, and they can be terminated from their job. There would be a provision for quick investigation of the cases of leaders. Corrupt leaders will be sent to jail within six months. Apart from this, to fix accountability in the work of offices, the party will fix a time limit for which work should be done within how many days and which official will do it. If the said official does not complete the work within the stipulated time then he/she would be penalised, a deduction would be made from his/her salary and given to the complainant and the work of the complainant would be completed within 30 days.
The Aam Aadmi Party views the aspect of reservation in Government jobs by keeping it separate from that of caste politics and vote bank politics. The Aam Aadmi Party believes that reservation should be there, and along with socially weak people, economically weak people should get reservation. But only reservation won’t solve the purpose. By rising above religion and reservations, children will also have to be provided with free and high quality education. All the Government schools of the country should be brought to the same level as that of the private schools; this is the main agenda of the party. Along with the system of reservation for the Dalits, tribals and other backward classes, there should be special opportunities for the poor and other deprived classes. To make sure the benefit of reservation reaches the right people instead of rich families, priority should be given to such persons, families and communities, who have not yet got the benefits of this system. Special plans should be made for the Mahadalits, extremely backward segments, tribals and migrant communities.
A large portion of the country’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of about a 100 families whereas 70 per cent of the population is subsisting on less than 20 rupees per day. Due to the economic policies of the Government, money is going out of the hands of the ‘poor’ to the hands of the ‘rich.’ How have such huge properties come into the hands of such few people? The Aam Aadmi Party believes that the present economic policies of the country are promoting the people who are involved in hoarding, betting and corruption instead of the people who are striving to earn money. Such policies should be abolished. It also believes that the present economic policies are based on the exploitation of farmers, agriculturists and villagers. The lands of the farmers are being given to industrialists and builders at throwaway rates. The villagers keep weeping, become landless and unemployed. Recently, several scams have come to light in which it has been revealed that in the name of development, leaders and a few industrialists bought land from farmers at throwaway rates, changed its ‘land use’ and after a few days sold it at higher rates. The Aam Aadmi Party believes that this should be stopped. It is a fraud perpetrated on the farmers. The land of any village cannot be taken without the consent of the ‘Gram Sabha’.
The question is : will the Aam Aadmi Party be able to implement its ideas? Will they get public support and win in the elections? In the last 65 years we have achieved a lot, but we have lost more than what we have achieved. Today, India is again standing on the verge of ‘parivartan’ (change). We should hope that Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party can become the ‘sutradhaar’ (facilitator) of this ‘parivartan’ and enable the poor, farmers, labourers, Dalits, tribals, backward sections, Minorities and the deprived classes of India to get rid of exploitation.
Often, villagers are forced to commit suicide. On the one hand, the cost for production of crops has increased manifold due to increases in the prices of fertilisers and seeds. On the other hand the Government fixes the rates of the crops so low that even the production cost of the crops cannot be recovered. The Aam Aadmi Party reckons that the farmers should get at least get that much for the crops which can be called ‘suitable profit’. Going by the report of M.S. Swaminathan, ex- Director General of the Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), the party believes that the farmers should be provided with 50 per cent profit of the total production cost. On the other hand, for improving the quality of living in the villages, they want to implement the ‘Swaraj’ model, in which the villagers can form and implement suitable policies for the development of villages. Every village should be provided with basic amenities and employment so that the villagers would not have to migrate toward the cities. This is the model of village development envisioned by the Aam Aadmi Party. At the same time it is in favour of the rights of regional people on water, forest, land and other natural resources.
Arvind Kejriwal has connected the agendas of the Party with the common people. From an ideological view, the Aam Aadmi Party indicates a change in Indian politics because this party is working according to an ideology where ‘change’ is the only possible way forward. The good thing is there is no room for ‘decoy’ statistics or exploitation in the name of development in this ‘change.’ To be part of this party, people must have service values and patriotism, otherwise they will choke. If people start thinking about the issues taken up by the Aam Aadmi Party then other political parties would be in trouble. But the question is : will the Aam Aadmi Party be able to implement its ideas? Will they get public support and win in the elections? In the last 65 years we have achieved a lot, but we have lost more than what we have achieved. Today, India is again standing on the verge of ‘parivartan’ (change). We should hope that Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party can become the ‘sutradhaar’ (facilitator) of this ‘parivartan’ and enable the poor, farmers, labourers, Dalits, tribals, backward sections, Minorities and the deprived classes of India to get rid of exploitation.