Jasleen Kaur | April 12, 2014
My experience with elections dates back to the 2007 Delhi Sikh Gurudwara management committee (DSGMC) elections. DSGMC is an organisation that, apart from managing Gurudwaras in the national capital, also manages educational institutions, hospitals and libraries. Almost half a million Sikhs living in Delhi are its registered voters. And, like in any other democratic set-up, there are issues here as well: certainly corruption, but also failure in promoting the language and culture by the local members of DSGMC.
In that election a close relative, a Punjabi scholar who had played an important role in promoting the language in Delhi, decided to contest. He fought as an independent candidate, as getting a ticket from known parties one needed huge amounts of money.
He soon realised it was not going to be an easy fight. While candidates from Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Badal and SAD Delhi distributed liquor and money to voters and spent huge amount of money, this person spent less than Rs 10,000 during the entire campaign. He managed to get just few hundred votes and lost. That’s how I understood how elections worked.
Perhaps that was the reason I could relate to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), when they decided to fight the assemble elections last year.
Both the BJP and the Congress dismissed the possibility that AAP could play a major role in the assembly elections. But the undercurrent was clear and the picture became clearer after the results were announced in December last year. Unlike my relative, they got huge support and people voted for them. It was because of their presence that BJP, despite a strong anti-incumbency wave, could not get the majority to form the government.
It was evident that people wanted change – one of whose manifestations was a corruption-free government. And they saw an alternative in AAP. They were talking about issues close to a common man, an aam aadmi, a space missing in the traditional politics.
For 49 days when AAP was in power, they took some right decisions; a few others went wrong. Thwarted from introducing the Delhi Jan Lokpal Bill, Kejriwal resigned (he now admits it was a mistake). In a day his impeccable image took a beating. Sections of media as well as common people, who initially supported him, no longer saw him as their hero.
But for me he remained the same – someone who can often be politically incorrect, but is fighting for the right ends.
As a first time voter in the Lok Sabha elections, I had my options to choose from.
The Congress, the party which ruled at the centre for the last ten years, was not a choice. The UPA government, no doubt, had done some good work by bringing the right to information and education acts, but the infamous scams that followed were hard to ignore.
The BJP, on the other hand, focussed its campaign on one man: Narendra Modi. No matter how strongly they were selling the ‘development model’ of Gujarat, it was hard to ignore the Godhra rampage of 2002 in which thousands of Muslims were killed and women were raped. When he was promising to replicate the development model at centre, there was no assurance that killings will not be replicated? In any case many economists and activists have been vocal about how Gujarat’s development achievements are moderate and largely predate Modi.
In a country like ours, it’s not just the development model that is required. It is equally important to have a leader who is not communal and is ready to fight corruption: AAP was the obvious choice for me.
I understand AAP is too young a party to form the government at centre. Their strategy worked well in the Delhi assembly elections; it might not do so well in the Lok Sabha elections. But AAP has many promising candidates
And even if some of its members make it to the parliament and play an activist’ role there, half of the job will be done. The result of fight against the corrupt system will soon see the light.
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