Global business interests downplayed surprise Delhi election results: they desperately need the corporate-friendly Narendra Modi as India’s prime minister.
The recent state elections were reported here as a victory for Modi supporters, but – thanks only to a lead from analyst Devinder Sharma – the writer read about the success of Aam Aadmi, or Common Man Party, also known as A.A.P.
Why are they entering politics?
The AAP website records that for the past two years millions of common Indians came out on streets to fight against the biggest evil in our country today – corruption.
It continues: “The current system of polity does not allow honest politicians to function. Our aim in entering politics is not to come to power; we have entered politics to change the current corrupt and self-serving system of politics forever. So that no matter who comes to power in the future, the system is strong enough to withstand corruption at any level of governance”.
Founded only a year ago, the AAP came a close second to the BJP in the capital, depriving the BJP of a majority and leaving Congress with only a handful of seats. AAP members wearing their trademark white caps with the slogan “I’m an ordinary person” celebrated in the streets by waving the party symbol – brooms, used by India’s street cleaners. They won 28 out of 70 seats in the Delhi elections, after only a few months of vigorous campaigning on the promise of combating corruption.
Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal, an IIT educated engineer and former tax collector, gained twice as many votes as Sheila Dikshit, the state’s long-serving Congress chief minister and winning her seat in New Delhi. He met Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung and discussed the party’s role in a Delhi government.
The Financial Times has covered the elections well. It reports: “Mr Kejriwal’s party depends largely on small donations from ordinary citizens, and one candidate, Ms Shazia Ilmi describes how she tried to dissuade a fruit vendor on the street from donating the relatively large sum of Rs500 ($8). “I said, ‘It’s too much,’ I felt guilty, and he said, ‘Look, I have to give Rs500 [in protection money] to every policeman.’
The FT’s Victor Mallet in New Delhi explained AAP’s need to persuade voters that the ballot is secret, that those receiving food subsidies will not lose them if they vote AAP, and that it is worth voting for a new party with few resources.
The New York Times reports that Rakhi Birla, its youngest candidate at 26, was born and raised in the low-income neighbourhood of Mangolpuri and, as a former television reporter, had no political experience.
Through her publicly funded party, Rakhi Birla ran against millionaire politician Raj Kumar Chauhan, 56, who joined politics in 1976 and had won four consecutive elections since 1993 for the Indian National Congress, which also leads the governing coalition of the central government.
Her victory of over 10,000 votes stunned many political observers. Arvind Kejriwal, the Aam Aadmi Party leader who defeated the three-term chief minister Sheila Dikshit of the Congress Party by over 20,000 votes, cited Ms. Birla’s win as a shining example of the spirit of their politics.
Kejriwal, “When the common man rises up, the thrones of a lot of powerful people will be rocked; some of those thrones have been broken today”
Ms. Birla dismissed any credit for her big victory. “People didn’t vote for me; they voted for the broom,” she said, referring to her party’s symbol, which signals a sweeping away of corruption and the old order.
Global business interests flourish only when there is a corporate political nexus formed by individuals and their family members passing backwards and forwards through the revolving door.
Aam Aadmi is not playing that game.