The recent controversy created by Kapil Mishra alleging financial irregularities in AAP and bribery allegations against party Chief Arvind Kejriwal has dented the image of a party which was born out of social movement ‘India Against Corruption’. A section of supporters has been dejected at the recent sequence of events in the party. Public’s only hope of ‘suraj’ which were to be established by ‘party with a difference’ has been quashed.
AAP was formed as a continuation of ‘India Against Corruption’ movement. IAC created a storm in Indian politics in 2011-13.
(i) The movement led by Anna Hazare tapping the widespread discontent against corruption in UPA II became an instant success (emergence).
(ii) Mass demonstrations were held in order to display movement’s power and clear demands on Lokpal were made with central govt. (coalescence).
(iii) People from different walks of life Baba Ramdev, Kiran Bedi joined the movement and a coordinated strategy was prepared. The political power of IAC received a boost with opposition including BJP (political elite) supporting the movement (bureaucratization).
(iv) The movement successfully pressurized GoI to pass Lokpal Bill and then died its natural death (success).
However, certain people of the movement led by Arvind Kejriwal felt Lokpal Bill passed by centre was weak and hence decided to take a plunge in politics. One needs to be in the system to make changes in the system. The Aam Aadmi Party was launched. A catchy name, building on the volunteer base of IAC, it made a sensational debut in 2013 Delhi elections finishing second on the podium ahead of Congress.
Now a political party is different from a social movement. As Freeman and Johnson put it, ‘It (social movement) is not a political party or interest group, which are stable political entities that have regular access to political power and political elites; nor is it a mass fad or trend, which are unorganized, fleeting and without goals. Instead, they are somewhere in between.’
Social movements are run with the support of voluntary contributions from the public. People supporting don’t need money/power, they are there to achieve a common purpose. It’s more spontaneous.
In contrast, a political party needs money in large sums to contest elections, pay cadre and leaders, for rallies and events and so on. Per seat limit for election expenditure in Delhi assembly seat was Rs. 14 lakhs in 2013 which was doubled to Rs. 28 lakh in 2015.
AAP, when launched, depended only on ‘public’ funding and many youths across India contributed. However, since it is a new party and has a limited presence across India, its sources for raising funds are limited to areas of influence mainly in Delhi and urban centres. Party avoided corporate funding for a while but now seems to be reconciled to the political ways of funding polls.
How can you match the election campaign of BJP / Congress if you don’t have funds? So either you turn a blind eye to who’s funding the party or find candidates who not only can fund their own campaigns but also contribute to overall party fund.
The Left Parties in India who were formed to deliver socio-economic benefits to the working people and oppose neoliberal economic policies and communalism went through same motions as AAP is going through today in the 1990s. In Bengal, it has been accused of becoming a government of contractors. The party too got burdened by cronyism which is the case across political parties and ideologies who have tasted power. Power corrupts.
Once you come to power you automatically come to know about the ways of making money. There is a fool proof system in place of cuts and bribes for govt. contracts. Any politician in India indulges in two types of corruption. Corruption on own account and corruption for contributing to party fund. Both are equally wrong.
Leaders in India who have enjoyed immense popularity in the history of Indian politics have had no corruption allegation on themselves – Patel, JP, ABV, and Modi. Did these people ensure that their party funding was transparent? No such instances come to your notice while researching. But what they did is that they maintained a distance from this dirty stuff leaving funding aspect to the organization. JP never fought an election precisely for this reason.
AAP which came to power with a lot of promise and hope has also got caught in this web. It’s only natural. They can’t contest elections and spread their ideology without funds. Where to draw a line is the key but very difficult to implement?
Kejriwal, we know, is no longer a social movement leader but a politician! The bigger debate should be centered on increasing clarity of political funding mechanism in India.
(Image Courtesy: www.indianexpress.com)