ByÂ Nanditha Sankar:
Ask an average Indian the number of political parties that he/she knows of; the answer would not stretch beyond two, or a maximum three. It would definitely come as a surprise then, that there exist 1616 parties in India, some belonging to individual states and 7 of them belonging to the National level strata. Formed with an agenda to compete in the local elections, these state parties soon begin to harbour nationalistic ambitions, grow in numbers and forge alliances with the crÃ¨me de la crÃ¨me at the echelons. Here’s taking a look at 4 parties that have turned out to show some spark that they could become better alternatives than the palate we’re being provided with at this point of time (read, BJP and Congress) :
Lok Satta Party
LS party was a child of the parent Lok Satta Movement. Founded by Jayaprakash Narayan, a former IAS officer and an activist, it was in 1996 that the LS movement forayed into the world of politics with an aim of bringing ‘New Politics for a New Generation’. The party intends to further the causes of the Lok Satta Movement, including a reduction in size of the cabinet, promotion of RTI, and disclosure of assets by political candidates. Their movement which had humble beginnings in a single state, today the party has made itself heard across most of South India and ventured northwards. Eyeing chiefly on political reforms, the party has worked towards de-criminalisation of politics, electoral reforms and even ventured into health and education. The transformation of JP’s constituency Kukatpally can be seen in the form of a video on the party’s website. Though talks of collaboration with AAP were in the sidelines, the idea was quashed as quoted by the party reps themselves. It is to be seen whether LS party will be eating into the vote share of AAP in the upcoming season
Aam Aadmi Party
AAP or the party of the common man has become a viable force to reckon with, post their triumphant arrival into the Indian political scenario in Delhi elections. After having had differences of opinion with reformer Anna Hazare over entry into politics, Arvind Kejriwal, a former IRS Officer formed the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The party achieved a near- unbelievable seat-share in Delhi Assembly elections, thrashing almost all exit-poll predictions. Major credit for this goes to the strong people’s support that was garnered by AAP not to forget the supportive NRI population as well. The use of social media for politics was taken to a pinnacle by AAP. Taking a leaf out of their book, parties across the country decided to introduce anti-corruption toll free lines, transparency in donations and many other examples to their way of rule. AAP may have exited from the Delhi government over the Jan Lokpal Bill not having been passed but they’ve certainly stood for what they had vouched for right from Day 1- the crusade against corruption. That they were ready to take the exit when several other parties can’t even quit power after being mired in scandals and controversies shows their willingness to give up power for a bigger cause. AAP has plans to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha Polls across 350 seats in states like Rajasthan, Kerala, Bengal, Tamil Nadu to name a few. There exist voices of dissent at the way AAP has suddenly become power-greedy and some even say that their quitting the Delhi ruling was just another ploy to nurture the bigger cause. But credit goes to the party for making this amazing transformation from a fledgling party to a force to reckon with over a year’s span.
Biju Janata Dal
The BJD or the Biju Janata Dal was formed by Naveen Patnaik soon after his father, Biju Patnaik’s demise. During its initial days, many doubted its reach and believed it would vanish into oblivion but the party has come a long way from there. Major credit for this goes to the party’s anti-corruption crusader, Naveen Patnaik himself who has even earned an epithet of ‘Mr Clean’ following his clean politics. To make the administration transparent and corruption-free, Odisha became the first state in the country for making an enactment to confiscate disproportionate assets of corrupt employees. While detractors claim that he lacks the charisma of his father, he has become a major force in his home-turf at least. The BJD teamed up with the BJP during the 2004 Elections and later fell out with them over seat sharing. They are now allied with the Third Front. Despite some obscurity in fielding candidates this election season, it is highly probably that Naveen Patnaik could be back to don the role of CM to extend his 15-year long rule.
Janata Dal United
The Janta Dal United or the JDU is the fifth largest party in India. The Janata Dal (United) was formed with a merger of the Sharad Yadav faction of Janata Dal, Lokshakti Party and Samata Party while another faction called the Janta Dal (Secular) emerged under H.D Deve Gowda. JDU was involved in a 17-year-old alliance with BJP but it came to an end with the elevation of Narendra Modi as their Prime Ministerial Candidate for 2014. The prime face of JD (U) this election season will be the CM of Bihar, Nitish Kumar; the man behind a miraculous transformation of Bihar. Under his regime, the state has made rapid strides in education (Nalanda University, free bicycles to girls), transparency in tax payment (Bihar became the highest tax-paying state) and there has been a sharp rise in GDSP. In a state that had long-forgotten what good governance was all about, Nitish Kumar and JD (U)’s presence must be a refreshing change.
All these parties mentioned above have a common focal point- their crusade against corruption. They may not have enough numbers yet but they seem to be on the burgeoning side. The country would best benefit when the people decide to shed their dynastic loyalties and familial proclivities and decide to vote for the right party, with a set of expert candidates rather than corrupt criminals and those who’ve spent more time in jail rather than hold office.