ByÂ Vidushi Singla:
“Never underestimate the underdog with a fresh face and message.”
This statement by the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah sums up the bewilderment and the eventual realization of the political parties at the phenomenal success of the Aam Aadmi Party. Party leaders like Nitin Gadkari, expressed their shock at the alarming rise of AAP and stated that they “did not expect AAP to perform so well,” in the recently held Assembly Elections where it won 28 out of the 70 seats in Delhi.
Was this complacency of our leaders a cause for their losing the vote share? Have our parties lost touch with the aspirations of the common man? Is the success of AAP then, the result of the long dismissed frustrations of the people? What was it that AAP promised and other parties failed to commit themselves to?
Much before AAP even assumed it’s now popular name; it had anonymously come to represent a space for alternative politics that did not thrive on communal divide, nepotism, favours to the rich and vain promises to the poor. India is fast changing and so are its aspirations. The last decade has registered the fastest growth in Indian history. With wider media coverage, rising literacy rates, heightened exposure to social media, subversive texts instantly going viral through cell phones and social networking sites, the people have begun to see through the hypocrisies of the existing parties. Also, the last decade has seen an unprecedented rise of the middle class. Caste, class and religion are not as much their concerns as are price rise, corruption, accountability and comfortable living conditions.
In such a scenario, AAP’s manifesto addressed exactly these concerns. It assured the implementation of the Jan Lokpal Bill which has now come to stand for accountability and transparency. The popularity of this initiative is a testament to the refusal of the masses to accept the supremacy or mastery of a few select government servants. It is the marker of the new age India that is assertive and demands an account of its hard earned money. By promising to distribute tickets to only one member per family, they reinforced their resolve against nepotism.
Another key concern of the people that they promised to resolve was that of the paradoxical co-existence of a want of skilful professionals and gross unemployment. They guaranteed the regularization of contractual posts for teachers in schools and colleges, thereby, uplifting the standard of Government schools and ensuring quality education to both rich and poor.
They promised to cut down the prices of basic necessities like food, and amenities like electricity and water. However, many expressed doubts over the execution of such tall promises, yet, the presence of such promises in the manifesto testifies to their having rightly caught the pulse of the people which the long established parties could not.
The path breaking response that AAP received to its emphasis on the primary and more significant concerns of our life and the dismissal of caste politics as trivial, has brought to the fore the changing desires of the new age India. We are tired of the social science books telling us that “India is a developing nation” for generations now. However, with the call by the common man for dignity of life, there is hope that we would soon see it changing.