Will Aam Aadmi Party become another Lok Satta Party?

Aam Aadmi Party formed by Arvind Kejriwal is but a repetition of history at the Centre of what happened in Andhra Pradesh in 1996 when Lok Satta Party came into being on anti-corruption plank.

Founded by N. Jayaprakash Narayan, known as JP, the Lok Satta Party in 1996, which was at the forefront of initiatives like disclosure of candidate’s income and wealth and criminal background during the polls, political funding, decriminalization of politics and comprehensive judicial reforms including local courts and national judicial commission and citizen’s charters.

A former medical doctor who had served in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) for 16 years, JP is a well-known figure in Andhra Pradesh with similar policies enunciated by the newsly-formed AAP at the centre. He could enter politics and win in Assembly polls in 2009 with the help of some major and minor parties.

While the party is vociferous about corruption in politics, JP’s background in IAS helped form concrete policies by the government. Now that similar exercise has been taken up by Kejriwal, it is worth looking at the possible success of Kejriwal in forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Since AAP is aiming at MP elections, it may not even win a single seat unless it bows to political reality and seek help from common-minded parties. Here the scope of adjustment to its avowed anti-corruption politics may find little support from the established major parties. Hence, a more leftist leaning is likely for AAP to succeed in the initial phase.

Once inside the Lok Sabha, which may be possible in a decade from now, AAP will be focusing more on gradual reforms within the realm of a liberalized economy and work wihin the confines of constitution. Here, JP has more experience than Kejriwal and his administrative experience is more practical in the path to achieve concrete political reforms. But both the parties have to tread the path of slow pace of political reality unless technology, especially the social networking sites bring them closer to people who vote. This may prove successful in wi-fi compatible cities than in rural areas where people are still lured to vote in exchange for money or liquor.

Kejriwal’s rhetoric like “There are people who have looted India a lot. Now the youth have to drive them out of parliament,” or his determination to “go to every village and town in the country for the next one year to convince people against the vote−bank policy of the Congress and the BJP” — may not help unless he garners support from the youth and they are made part of his party’s functioning.

But one initiative by AAP is laudable. Transparency, or uploading party’s funds on its website should pave the path for all parties to follow similar move. But who will dictate the major two parties to do so? The other local parties are more corrupt than the national parties but their penetration into all corners of the states where they are strong cannot be ignored. Here, Kejriwal should move cautiously. May be JP can now look at the centre and join hands with Kejriwal to play a vital role in national politics.

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