Dr Bhagwati Prakash Sharma
Quick emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on the political horizon of the country, with an unprecedented youth and civil society activism, needs to be viewed with a bit of caution, in view of the alien influence that has been visible over some of its leaders. The nation was altogether stunned in 2011, when Arundhati Roy, a civil society activist, disclosed in a column in The Hindu followed by an interview in the CNN-IBN that some of Anna’s team members have been running NGOs funded by foreign multinational corporations. She alleged in a column in The Hindu on August 21, 2011 – “Kabir, an NGO run by Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodiya, the key figures in team-Anna have received $400,000 from the Ford Foundation in last 3 years.
It was all the more strange that Kejriwal, instead of giving any straight and unambiguous reaction, aroused much suspicion by telling the Firstpost via sms that he had no comment, and instead, asked where is the proof? His asking of proof, reflected that may be initially he had no intention of accepting the allegation that he was receiving funds from abroad for his movements. But, when the Ford Foundation representative, Steven Solnick accepted that Kejriwal’s NGO Kabir was being funded by his New York based Foundation since 2005, and last installment was paid till 2010 Kejriwal had to accept the allegation. Solnick disclosed that Kejriwal’s NGO was granted $ 1,72,000 in 2005 and second it was in 2008 consisting of $ 1,97,000. The Foundation has clearly admitted that it was given for the work on ‘Right to Information Act’ campaign of Kejriwal’s NGO.
Indeed, it was also by virtue of the Ford Foundation-funded Ramon Magsaysay award that has helped Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi. Ford Foundation has been operating its office in India as early as since 1952. Earlier it was participating in extension activities with the Planning Commission of India, and has participated in the green revolution by promoting chemical intensive farming in India. But, since 1970s the Foundation has begun to promote a new breed of ‘activist’ NGOs, and civil society organisations, engaged in social and political activities. Ever since its establishment, the New Delhi office of the Ford Foundation has made more than 3500 grants, totaling more than $ 508 million (Rs 3150 crore at today’s exchange rate) to nearly 1250 institutions. Also requires a scrutiny, that whether these grants are going to the organisations leading confrontationist movements or to those leading movements, integrating people with mainstream polity and society.
Though, Steven Solnick has tried his best to stress that Ford Foundation was not trying to influence Magsaysay awards and it was a mere coincidence that some members of team Anna were awardees as well as recipients of grants for their activist activities. The grants given to ‘Kabir’ are said to be for RTI activities and not for ‘India Against Corruption’. The government as well as people in the country should also think over and decide that up to what extent any foreign foundation or organisation be allowed to bankroll any movements and policy mediation in the country via distribution of any grants. Even, it has also to be ascertained that to what extent the Indian civil society organisations are under the influence of the pink tide of the New Global Left created and sustained by the World Social Forum (WSF).
It was by virtue of the populist agitations of civil society organisations and the left-inclined NGOs that leftist governments could be installed in more than a dozen Latin American countries since 1990s. This pink tide of installing left-inclined governments could gain true momentum in the Latin America since 1998, when Hugo De Chavez won elections in Venezuela in the year 1998, followed by Lula da Silva in Brazil in 2002 and so on. The pink tide of the ‘New Global Left’ could get strength only after 2001, when the first conference of the WSF was convened in Porto Alegre in Brazil, where the labour party of Brazil was in power. The first conference of the WSF was held from January 25-30, 2001 and was attended by 12,000 representatives from 60 countries. The second conference of the WSF was also held at Porto Alegre and was attended by 60,000 delegates from 123 countries. The third conference of the WSF was also held in Port Alegre. There first three conferences were liberally financed by the Ford Foundation, which funded the activist activities of the NGO ‘Kabir’ run by Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sishodiya in India, the core committee members in the ‘India Against Corruption’ agitation. The fourth convention of the WSF was held in India at Mumbai from January 16-21 in 2004 and was attended by 90,000 delegates from 111 countries. To give this conference a big success, 18 leftist political parties had also issued a joint call.
Though normally, the new global left keeps distance from the hard core communist parties. Yet, some hard core left groups also participated in the WSF at Mumbai. Arundhati Roy was explicitly vocal in criticising the Indian army for its role in Kashmir, POTA and the Gujarat Police about the post-Godhra events.
The civil society movement in India, has also begun to further consolidate itself after the Post- Ayodhya events. For instance, about 150 civil society organisations including the ‘Narmada Bachao Aandolan’ of Medha Patkar have formed the National Alliance of Peoples’ Movement (NAPM).
In fact, the WSF had been a tool to strengthen the pro-left movement worldwide after the disintegration of the USSR. The left activists were scared and often using the phrase ‘There is no alternative’ (TINA). But after mobilising worldwide participation in WSF, they began to say ‘There Are Many Alternatives’ (TAMA).
The Indian people and polity has to decide that to what extent the activist and political movements in India should be under the influence of internationalism vis a vis nationalist issues and national interests or to be allowed to get swayed from or to run movements bankrolled by extra-territorial organizations.
Government formed, promises in jeopardy
Revolt like situation in Congress over support to AAP government
Till the time this issue will reach your hand the Aam Adami Party (AAP) cabinet would have taken oath of office and secrecy. However, even before the formation of the government the infighting within the AAP and their lust for power surfaced when one of the senior AAP MLAs Vinod Binni revolted and threatened to expose all the party leaders.
On the other hand the Congress is facing a revolt like situation as not only the ordinary workers are staging protest against their own party leaders for extending support to the Party, but also the senior national leaders are questioning the decision of the party. Following this kind of situation the DPCC president Arvinder Singh Lovely and former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit have made it clear that their party has not extended unconditional support and “if the AAP tries to do the things with vendetta , then definitely we will raise our voice”.
Now after the government formation the bigger question is how the promises made during the elections would be fulfilled. The AAP had promised to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill within two weeks of the government formation. But now CM-designate Arvind Kejriwal is saying that the Constitutional provisions might delay the enactment of the Bill but he will try to pass it in a fortnight. But the constitutional experts trash Kejriwal’s claims saying it is practically impossible to pass the Bill in Delhi without it getting vetted by the Centre.
Experts also raised doubts on maintainability of AAP’s version of Jan Lokpal Bill as Parliament has already passed the Lokpal Bill and any Central legislation is also applicable on the States, including Delhi. The new government in Delhi would also be required to repeal the existing Lokayukta Act of 1995 before implementing the Jan Lokpal Bill in the national Capital.
On another promise — calling first session of Assembly at Ramlila Maidan — the AAP may find itself on a sticky wicket. Experts said there has been no precedence to conduct the meeting of a legislative body at a public place anywhere in the country. They cited the conventions, rules and the Supreme Court judgements to assert that conducting the House meeting at a public venue would be the breach of Assembly’s power, privilege and immunities. Constitutional expert SK Sharma termed the AAP decision as ‘foolish’ and said the ruling party cannot decide everything on its own without proper understanding of the laid norms and procedure.
Delhiites are waiting for the day when the AAP delivers on the front of providing at least 700 litre water per family per day and how it reduces the electricity tariff by half. But the way Kejriwal has started saying even before taking oath that he does not have any magic stick to resolve the problems speaks volumes about the new regime.