Yesterday, someone asked me to give three reasons to vote AAP. I understand that there is a lot of invented confusion, controversy and general mud slinging about AAP. The latest is BJP workers supporting pamphlets showing Arvind Keriwal as Osama Bin Laden, while Modi sly speeched him as AK-49. All this does sway minds. But there is plenty of verifiable information that no amount of fooling can hide. Luckily it is also the most important.
Here are five to ponder.
The birth and composition of Aam Aadmi Party
Aam Aadmi Party was born from popular discontent from existing politics. It aims to address the sources of frustration. It is easy to call concerns about price rise populist, but we have seen protest movements worldwide from the rise of inequality. The varied in intensity and result from the Occupy Movement to the Arab Spring, but the middle class has never risen so strongly in a long long while. The needs driving this are real. You can fool someone into thinking something. You cannot fool people into giving up comfort and contributing money and effort day after day for months on end without any guarantees on the end. There really are enough people who see the need to change the politics of India before it is too late.
Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
What difference in corruption does BJP or Congress expect to deliver if it continues to offer a similar number of candidates accused in crimes, riots, and scams? What is the meaning of selling tickets or helicopter candidates that local teams oppose? Who will those candidates represent?
This is such a cliche that I cringe to list it here, but I have to. Aam Aadmi Party in its short lived government took countless actions that removed corrupt officials from access to their established opportunities. Helplines against corruption, improvement in admission procedures, drastic reduction in bribery and more is of immediate relevance to you.
The FIR against Ambani, though it would achieve little in terms of punishing the collusion in increasing prices nationwide, served to draw attention and raise the alarm, which allowed the action of preventing the immediate price raise that would be sneaked up on the people to become public and be stopped till after the elections. Undoubtedly, it will not happen if Aam Aadmi Party comes to power, and whichever party comes to power will have the responsibility of their actions, but this successfully and I think for the first time allowed people a taste of direct democracy - of voting in their interest on issues that impact them. Do you think the price rise is appropriate or not? Vote accordingly.
There are very direct actionable things that are already hitting corruption where it hurts. So, unlike other parties, a BIG difference is that you don't have to vote for Aam Aadmi Party for it to fight in your interest. It will fight with whatever authority it has. As the government, it made officials accountable. It filed a cheating case as a way of attacking wrongs beyond its reach. Out of any authority, it approached the Election Commission to prevent a drastic price hike and at least give people the chance to fight it, instead of being "automatically" upgraded to inflation. It will fight with whatever it has in hand. It will fight as much as it can reach. It has no intention of stopping. It is YOU who has the opportunity to give them more authority and reach, if what it does is useful to you. I mean seriously, fighting inflation is not useful to who? Which other parties are even attempting to discuss such a serious issue and talking actions that will go into it instead of grand promises?
This is one dog that has sunk its teeth in the fleeing thief and it won't let go. They are unstoppable. I have come to believe this after fully expecting them to be defeated several times, and I have just accepted that they refuse to be blocked with the same tenacity that the political power cartels refuse to let go of exploiting the country for the profit of a few. They flow. Blocked one way, they try another.
This blog was formed to see potential for the common man with limited resources reaching beyond limits. One thing that won my respect was the Delhi Government punching way above their weight class with the FIR against Ambani. It has no authority over gas pricing. It has no control over how the country deals gas resources. So it got creative. It does have the power to act against their citizens being cheated, and the higher prices than due was cheating citizens. And they went with that, instead of moaning about what they would do if they were in power. That shook everyone and his cousin in the power cartels. The time to finesse corruption with sophisticated talk had run out abruptly.
So you have a new avalanche of the evils of AAP. Because it no longer remained about merely a Lok Sabha Election - which no one likes to lose, but isn't the end of the world, as it will happen again in five years. It was now about the death of a cash cow. It AAP was reaching beyond limits this bad as Delhi government, them coming to power would leave little left to loot by the time five years were done. Not to mention Ambani is a proud sponsor of the two parties attacking AAP as well as many of the mega TV channels. So the vitriol against AAP is not merely about the Lok Sabha Election, but about the whole business model collapsing.
That is the AAP effect. Much is at stake in stopping them, and they are unstoppable. And more and more people are coming to realize it.
I am not going to feed you any statistics here. I urge you to look at the quality of candidates. How many scam accused have got tickets again? How many accused in serious criminal cases have got tickets? How come those accused in riots (that coincidentally consolidated Hindu and Dalit votes against Muslims) got tickets to contest elections? What popularity are they tapping into? How exactly are these parties offering to end corruption with the same kind of people who have allowed it to thrive year after year? How many are hand in glove with big business interests? How many have been accused of crimes against women? With the same formulas of triggering riots, hate, false slander about opponents... is this not the ugly India you were fed up of?
I am sure someone is going to bring up Somnath Bharti. I am not going to defend his actions in the drug and prostitution raid. I have criticized them on this blog. However, I am not convinced of the accusations leveled against him by Ambani's lawyer, Haresh Salve. The videos or witnesses do not speak of any public stripping of the women or being forced to pee on the street. The videos clearly show police presence. The action was still unwise, because people do not need precedents of leaders leading large mobs against women - even if the actions were not criminal, because the actions it sets a role model for cannot be predicted.
Regardless, a party that fields riot accused being all sanctimonious in this instance tells you all you need to, but I leave it to your judgment.
Somnath Bharti is not the only candidate AAP is fielding. Nor is he the only one to be accused of anything. Several candidates have been withdrawn in both the previous election and this one, when proof of illegal actions by them reached the party. Role holders in the party have been removed when it was found they sold tickets. The party is making a clear and transparent effort to offer you only the best.
Most of the AAP candidates are local to wherever they are contesting. Barring a few high profile "helicopter drops" - Arvind Kejriwal included - to challenge prominent candidates they want to defeat, all other candidates, to the best of my information are local people fighting for improvement wherever they are. You have civil rights activists, RTI activists, child rights activists business people, entrepreneurs, innovators, victims of state atrocities, journalists, and as of this morning, a Nobel Prize nominee. The mix is as diverse as the needs of the people they hope to represent.
It is up to you to decide who represents you better. All parties are offering. Take your pick.
Defeating existing power cartels
Regardless of who runs the country long term, at this point, you have most of the donations to political parties unaccountable and opaque. The donations accounted for include a large number of entities that have also profited significantly from government policies. There are politicians with businesses, business houses sponsoring candidates and parties, business houses owning stakes in channels and also channels affiliated with political parties, you have business journalists getting corporate jobs and vice versa, you have journalists entering politics and returning, and you have them mobilizing over and over to promote specific kinds of decisions. To make them in the Parliament, to opine on them in media to influence what people think is in their interest, to incentivize the whole thing well.
In a country of 1.2 billion people, media caters to the realities of 1%, influences the rest to believe that those are in their interest. People who earn well and dismiss inflation as reason for caution do not realize that as long as inflation grows faster than their salary increment, they are in reality getting poorer year by year, though fat incomes don't show weight loss that easy.
You have scams exposing these incestuous relationships over and over. You have scandals and leaks showing how law was manipulated. There is no illegality in these exploitations of the country. laws and processes are designed to give some the advantage.
You cannot break this while participating in it. This is why the existing parties may offer the moon on corruption, but they cannot end it, because you cannot pick up the stool you are standing on. You have to get off it first. What they can do is spin pretty words and tell people that it isn't such a big issue, and what they are offering is better than some dubious upstart party with god knows what ancestry. They can raise questions about evils done by its representatives to shake your faith. For example the "Somnath Bharti porn domain dealer" or "Somnath Bharti spammer" episodes. They are not true. But even if they were, how is it relevant to the country whether someone sent spam emails ten years ago? Particularly when it eclipses far more serious actions AGAINST the direct interests of the people of the country - like the reports on paid news, like the reports on Social Media to create unrest and trigger riots, like the rigging up of poll surveys to fool people into thinking some parties are more popular than they really are and some are less popular than they really are?
Do you not think with elections coming up, this is of more immediate and serious concern to a democracy? Illegal actions that may hijack people's voice expressed as votes through disinformation, danger and outright prevention?
It is time to rise, people, Aam Aadmi Party is a new party. If it goes wrong, there are enough crazies in it to rise against wrong doers within as well. They have done it before and they can do it again. There is no entrenched power here. There are no opaque funds serving undisclosed interests. What you see is what you get.