Sunday, February 08, 2015

Get To Know India's Aam Aadmi Party


Delhi, the capital of India, is something like Washington, DC. It isn't a state but it does elect a legislative assembly. Yesterday Delhi went to the polls to elect all 70 members of the Assembly. The votes will be counted Tuesday so we won't know for sure what the voters decided but... it is widely believed-- and backed up by 7 exit polls-- that a party you may have never heard of won-- and won big. The party-- think Greece's newly elected Syriza-- is the AAP, Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man's Party).

Turnout was strong-- at least 67%, higher than for last year's national election-- in a battle that pitted the right-wing party of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the BJP, against the left-wing insurgents, leaving the Congress Party-- more or less India's version of the U.S. Democrats-- out of it entirely. Arvind Kejriwal is the leader of the AAP and is expected to form the new government. The party, which was formed in 2012, springs from roots that are non-partisan, activist, anti-corruption and movement-oriented. Kejriwal did well enough in the 2013 Delhi elections, to become a minority Chief Minister for 49 days. Unable to push his anti-corruption bill through the Assembly and undermined by concentrated corporate power (and his coalition partners in the Congress Party), he resigned. He had scared the hell out of the political/corporate elites by giving away free water and cheap electricity, by taking a stand against Walmart and other international predators, and by encouraging citizens to report officials who solicited bribes. In the election culminating yesterday he campaigned on lower utility rates, free WiFi, the establishment of more community colleges, and, again, a serious war against pervasive government and corporate corruption.

In explaining the ideology of the AAP, wikipedia points to the party's emphasis on the principles espoused by the father of the country, Mahatma Gandhi:
The AAP says that the promise of equality and justice that forms a part of the constitution of India and of its preamble has not been fulfilled and that the independence of India has replaced enslavement to an oppressive foreign power with that to a political elite. The party claims that the common people of India remain unheard and unseen except when it suits the politicians. It wants to reverse the way that the accountability of government operates and has taken an interpretation of the Gandhian concept of swaraj as a tenet. It believes that through swaraj the government will be directly accountable to the people instead of higher officials. The swaraj model lays stress on self-governance, community building and decentralisation.

UPDATE: The Results

Modi's fascists were vanquished by Delhi voters far more powerfully than anyone predicted. With the official vote count now complete, the AAP has won 67 of the 70 Assembly seats! The fascists won the other 3 seats, although they did manage to win around 30% of the popular vote.

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At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wish we in the US had a party which represented us so that we could leave the GOP-Lite - er, Democrats out of it.


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