Sowing mangoes

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), launched by Arvind Kejriwal and his associates, may not set all the rivers on fire and make a big splash in the coming elections.

But the idea of a party that provides an alternative to the kind of politics practised in the country, and not just serves as an alternative to another political party, is likely to ignite many minds.

The AAP founders’ disillusionment with the political system and parties is shared by most people, but it is difficult to say if this sentiment will turn into support for the party. The issues raised by the leaders of the party have been the general concern of the country for the past many years. Existing political parties have not been able to address them because they are in fact part of the problem.

The Congress is more upset by the formation of the AAP than other parties because it thinks the platform of the common people which the new party seeks to espouse is its monopoly and the new party is more directed against it than against others. But the Congress’ championship of the cause of the poor and underprivileged has not always gone beyond declamatory claims and it should not complain if someone tries to genuinely work for the people.

The AAP promises to do everything that other parties have failed to do. It will give a dominant role for women and youth in party positions, will make its financial position and dealings transparent, put an end to the culture of corruption and nepotism and make governance really participatory.

All these are idealistic aims and it will be great if the party can move even some distance forward in achieving them. But there is a big distance from intention and promise to efforts and achievement. Kejriwal has taken on some important and powerful personalities in his campaign against corruption. His hit-and-run tactics have had some impact, especially on the middleclass.

But he has to be careful not be branded as a one-issue activist in search of headlines. Building a party from the scratch is a herculean task in a country as diverse as India. Kejriwal and his friends should be well aware of that. There have been precedents of the Janata Party or the Telegu Desam becoming popular immediately after their formation, but the circumstances are different now.

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