Political parties emerging out of movements is nothing new. Not only in India but all over the world it has happened over a period of time for a cause or for ideological goals. What happened with the experiment of Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi is a curious case. It emerged from the single point agenda of its movement ‘India Against Corruption’. Back then, there was no formal party structure or ideological framework. What evidently constituted this loose formation was a group of NGOs working with their own single point agendas and ambitious ‘social workers’, supported by the left hearted individuals like Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav who were disgruntled with the mainstream left politics. The party presented a model of Swaraj, and claimed to be decentralised and participatory. But the actual functioning of the party in the last two years suggest that this model is more personality driven. The ouster of two founder members from Political Affairs Committee of the party not only indicates the presence of personality cult within AAP but it also refutes all other claims of AAP being different.
Through its website, Aam Aadmi Party claims to be different from other political formations on 12 counts (http://aamaadmiparty.org/how-are-we-different ). Prime among them is that ‘there is no central high command in Aam Aadmi Party’, and the other being, ‘the party structure follows a bottom to top approach’. From the 49 days stint of AAP in Delhi, it is being governed by a coterie around Arvind Kejriwal. People demanding for democratic space were either systematically sidelined or forced to resign. Decisions like taking support from Congress, quitting the government, fighting Lok Sabha elections were more reflections of evolving high command culture than following a bottom to top approach. Like any other regional formation, AAP is turning out to be a centrally driven party revolving around the whims and fancies of one person.
Party also claims transparent mechanisms in candidate selection and financial management. The ouster of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan speaks otherwise:They raised concerns about two issues. One that 44 of the candidates who fought on AAP’s symbol were crorepaties and 23 with criminal antecedents as per their affidavits. Second AAP is curbing its own activists’ dissent regaring transparency on financial mattters. It was visible that the extravagant election campaign run by AAP could not have been managed by meagre contributions made by individuals. When the objections were raised the list of contributions from website was removed. The basis of corruption is electoral expenses, and AAP faltered on this basic principle of transparency for regaining power.
‘Lokpal’ is the buzzword around which AAP began its journey. Accordingly, there is a provision for internal Lokpal for implementation of code of conduct for party members. It is the same Lokpal who objected for growing personality cult and a leader holding two key positions in the party and government. Instead of executing the Lokpal recommendations, party’s toothless national executive shunted out two members of PAC who were supporting those recommendations. As the decision was vertically divided, with conspicuous absence of the person who crafted this drama, this may not be the end of the story. The feeling of frustration is already looming over Delhi voters and NRI supporters, and is quite evident in the social media trends.
Despite the claims of a new and fresh experiment in Indian politics, political observers always suggested that AAP formation is more about selfish power game of some individuals than a means for political transformation. With the ouster of Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav from party’s PAC, the claims of AAP being different has not only faltered, it’s also proved to be worse than any other AAM party.