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Aam Aadmi Party India



Aam Aadmi Party (translation: Common Man Party; abbreviated AAP) is an Indian political party, formally launched on 26 November 2012. It came into existence following differences between the activists Arvind Kejriwal and Anna Hazare regarding whether or not to politicise the popular India Against Corruption movement that had been demanding a Jan Lokpal Bill since 2011. Hazare preferred that the movement should remain politically unaligned while Kejriwal felt the failure of the agitation route necessitated a direct political involvement.

The AAP has led several protests since its formation. Among these was a campaign against an alleged nexus between government and private corporations relating to price rises for electricity and water in Delhi. Another saw the party demanding justice for victims of sexual harassment and rape, including the introduction of a stronger anti-rape law.[2][3][4] The party's first electoral test was in the 2013 Delhi legislative assembly election, from which it emerged as the second-largest party, winning 28 of the 70 seats. With no party obtaining an overall majority, the AAP has formed a minority government with conditional support from the Indian National Congress and Mr. Arvind Kejriwal is current Chief Minister of Delhi.

Background

The origins of the AAP can be traced to a difference of opinion between Arvind Kejriwal and Anna Hazare, social activists who had both been involved in Team Anna, a strand of the anti-corruption movement for Jan Lokpal Bill that had gained momentum in India during 2011 and 2012.[5] Hazare had wanted to keep the movement politically neutral but Kejriwal considered that direct involvement in politics was necessary because attempts to obtain progress regarding the Jan Lokpal Bill through talks with existing political parties had, in his opinion, achieved nothing. A survey conducted by the India Against Corruption organisation using social networking services had indicated that there was wide support for politicisation.[6][7]Hazare and Kejriwal agreed on 19 September 2012 that their differences regarding a role in politics were irreconcilable. Kejriwal had support from some well-known people involved in the anti-corruption movement, such as Prashant Bhushan and Shanti Bhushan, but was opposed by others such as Kiran Bedi and Santosh Hegde. On 2 October,[8] Kejriwal announced that he was forming a political party and that he intended the formal launch to be 26 November, coinciding with the anniversary of India's adoption of its constitution in 1949.[6][7]

The party name reflects the phrase Aam Aadmi, or "common man", whose interests Kejriwal proposed to represent. A party constitution was adopted on 24 November 2012, when a National Council comprising 320 people and a National Executive of 23 were also formed. Both the Council and the Executive were expected to have more members in due course, with the intention being that all districts and all classes of people would have a voice.[7] Various committees were to be formed to draft proposals for adoption by the party in a process that was expected to take several months. Although one aim was to limit nepotism, there were complaints at this initial meeting that the selection of people invited to attend was itself an example of such practices[9] The party was formally launched in Delhi on 26 November[10] and in March 2013 it was registered as a political party by the Election Commission of India.[11][a]

Ideology

The AAP says that the promise of equality and justice that forms a part of the constitution of India and its preamble has not been fulfilled and that the independence of India has replaced enslavement to an oppressive foreign power with that to a political elite.[13] The party claims that the common people of India remain unheard and unseen except when it suits the politicians to consider them. It wants to reverse the way that the accountability of government operates and has taken an interpretation of the Gandhian concept of swaraj as a tenet. It believes that through swaraj the government will be directly accountable to the people instead of higher officials. The swaraj model lays stress on self governance, community building and decentralisation.[13][14]
Kejriwal says AAP refuses to be guided by ideologies and that they are entering politics to change the system: "We are aam aadmis. If we find our solution in the left we are happy to borrow it from there. If we find our solution in the right, we are happy to borrow it from there."[15]

Agenda

As of November 2013, the AAP is proposing to introduce four primary policies:[16]

Awareness campaigns

The party has conducted public awareness campaigns to educate people about "right to reject" and requested Election Commissions of certain States to allow voters to exercise their right to reject in electronic voting machines.[19]

Support

On 26 November 2012, the formal launch day of the AAP, the former law minister, Shanti Bhushan, donated INR1 crore (US$150,000). Prashant Bhushan, his son, is member of the party's National Executive Committee.[20]
On 18 May 2013, a group of Indian-Americans from 20 different cities in the USA held a convention in Chicago and extended support to the AAP. The convention was attended by two AAP leaders, Kumar Vishwas and Yogendra Yadav, and Kejriwal addressed it via video conferencing.[21] Aruna Roy and Medha Patkar, who had differences with Kejriwal on certain issues, supported him after his 15 day fast against inflated electricity bills.[22]

Protests

On 23 March 2013, Kejriwal began an indefinite fast in an attempt to mobilize people against inflated power and electricity bills at a house in Sundar Nagri, a low-income group resettlement colony in North-East Delhi.[23] During protest he urged Delhi citizens not to pay "inflated" water and electricity bills.[24] The AAP also demanded an audit of power and electricity supply in Delhi by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India which was supported by Civil Society Groups like National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM).[25] The AAP claimed that the protest gathered support from 1,00,000 people in Delhi on a single day and from more than 3,00,000 people up to 28 March 2013.[26] Anna Hazare urged Kejriwal to end the fast and he did so on 6 April.[22]On 10 June 2013, Kejriwal supported the agitation of Delhi auto rickshaw drivers, who were protesting the Delhi government's ban on advertisements on auto rickshaws.[27] Kejriwal claimed that, auto rickshaw drivers supported his party and they carried AAP's advertisements on their auto rickshaws and this is the reason for Delhi Government's ban and he challenged that volunteers of AAP will put 10,000 advertisements on auto rickshaws as a protest.[27]

Delhi Assembly election, 2013

The 2013 Delhi state assembly elections were the party's first electoral participation. The Election Commission approved the symbol of a "broom" for use by the AAP in that campaign.[28] The party said that its candidates were honest and had been screened for potential criminal backgrounds.[29] The AAP published its central manifesto on 20 November 2013, promising to implement the Jan Lokpal Bill within 15 days of coming to power.[30]In November 2013, Shazia Ilmi, one of the AAP candidates, offered to withdraw her candidature as a result of a video-recorded sting operation that allegedly showed some high-profile AAP candidates receiving donations in return for political favours. The AAP refused to accept her withdrawal, describing the footage as fabricated and a violation of the Model Code of Conduct.[31][32] The Election Commission ordered an inquiry regarding the legitimacy of the video.[33]AAP emerged as the second largest party in Delhi winning 28 seats in the assembly.[34] Out of a total 70 seats, the Bharatiya Janata Party won 31, AAP won 28, Indian National Congress won eight and three were won by others.[35] The AAP has announced its intention to form a minority government in the hung Assembly, with what Sheila Dikshit describes as "not unconditional" support from Indian National Congress.[36][37]

 

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