Can AAP make inroads into Telangana?

Can AAP make inroads into Telangana?
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Can AAP make inroads into Telangana?

Highlights

Fresh from its massive electoral success in Punjab, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is determined to make inroads into the already crowded Telangana political arena.

Fresh from its massive electoral success in Punjab, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is determined to make inroads into the already crowded Telangana political arena. Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) publicly welcomed AAP to test its waters knowing fully well that the party that heralded the new generation of politics in the country is a force to recon with.

Given the prevailing socio-economic-political situation in Telangana, AAP can throw some surprises in urban hinterlands if its chief Arvind Kejriwal (AK) can spare sufficient time and energy.

AAP chose the Telangana martyrs' memorial to conduct a 'Tiranga Yatra' to mark the party's resounding victory in Punjab while promising 'Kejriwal model' of governance in the newest State too. The rock solid Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the revived Congress and the rejuvenated Bharatiya Janata Party- the three key players in Telangana- can't ignore the intentions made very clear by the AAP leadership.

The other trio-Prof. Kodanda Ram (Telangana Jana Samithi), Dr RS Praveen Kumar (Bahujan Samaj Party) and YS Sharmila (YSR Telangana Party) should redesign their strategies to score something big in the multi-cornered contest. From no enemy to full of rivals, it's KCR's own making!

Good for democracy

I asked a politically-conscious IT professional, who had enthusiastically voted for Dr Jayaprakash Narayana's Lok Satta party, about the prospects of AAP in Telangana. Though he is excited to see the entry of a clean political party, he is not sure of its success. "It is hard for our people to accept simpletons. We are accustomed to glitz and extravaganza kind of politics. We love to admire hungama masters. AAP with its simple agenda can't attract people," he said.

He cited the grand success story NTR and the electoral debacle of Dr JP to drive his point home. Another senior analyst, a hardcore communist, from Andhra Pradesh felt that AAP can't survive without caste-based politicians. "In both the Telugu States, caste rules the roost. AAP's success in Telangana depends on its ability to woo caste groups," he said.

Irrespective of the penetration of AAP and the political outcomes, the entry of the party augurs well for democracy. AAP in the present form is welcome to the concerned citizenry that is aghast at how the present political system made corruption and criminalisation non-issues in politics as well as elections.

With clean politics and corruption-free governance as its main planks, AAP is seen as a ray of hope for them. AAP leaders are expected to make a huge noise on the massive corruption and expose the black sheep to make a difference. The broom is expected to clean the political ground, brimming with a deadly combination of crooks, corrupts and criminals.

The BSP cadres, led by the former IPS officer Dr RS Praveen Kumar, are reaching out people to educate the gullible public against the ill-effects of selling votes to politicians. With the foray of AAP, the issue of clean politics will get further boost.

We all know that political corruption is the mother of all evils and the reported corruption in major irrigation projects is mind-blowing. I don't know why the ruling party is not coming out with a strong rebuttal to stop the avalanche of corruption allegations against the leadership.

On the other hand, Telangana topped the list in down South in the India Corruption Survey 2019, conducted by Transparency International along with Local Circles, a social media firm, in 248 districts across 20 states, even as Rajasthan and Bihar fared the worst in the country with 78 per cent and 75 per cent of the respondents admitting to paying bribes.

As many as 67 per cent of Telangana citizens who participated in the survey admitted to having paid a bribe to get their work done, out of which 56 per cent gave bribes several times (directly or indirectly) while 11 per cent paid bribes once or twice (directly or indirectly). 11 per cent said they got work done without paying a bribe.

These figures make us to believe that all is not well. In the absence of free media, the watchdog of democratic institutions, it will be really nice if the three fearless bureaucrats- AK, JP and RSPVK- can join hands to expose corrupt politicians and bureaucrats with proof and data.

AAP's entry rekindles hopes to the lesser mortals who wish to contest in elections without bribing voters. Many conscience-driven professionals, bureaucrats and teachers may take a political plunge with a genuine intent to serve people self-less. Right now, a buffoon with billions can become a minister while a dumb ass can get an MP ticket just because his father-in-law holds sway in the ruling party.

Thirdly, with the entry of AAP, real issues, especially health, education, employment and environment, will come to the fore. It will force all opponents, including the ruling party, to spell out their concrete action plan on the vital areas of public concern.

Lok Satta vs AAP

A section of pessimists feels that Telangana people had already tasted AAP-kind of experiment in the form of Lok Satta Party and showed their disinterest. Launched by the former civil servants with a clean slate, both the parties took birth from mass movements. Though Lok Satta ran highly inspiring public campaigns and forced governments to bring laws to transform the political culture of the country, it badly fumbled in the hustings.

It couldn't withstand the money and muscle power of the mainstream regional and political parties whereas AAP captured power in style in New Delhi under the nose of strong BJP strategists. There was a talk about AAP and LSP joining together to form a formidable opposition in the erstwhile AP. In January 2014, both the leaderships agreed in principle to explore the possibility of working together but it didn't work out for unknown reasons. LSP suffered electoral debacle in the elections and slipped into hibernation.

AAP remained silent after the electoral jolt in 2018 Assembly elections. It contested 41 out of the 119 seats and all of them lost their deposits. The total number of votes secured by the party was well below 20,000. Notwithstanding these dismal numbers, the State unit upped its ante following the party's stunning victory in Punjab.

AAP's MLA from Delhi and the State in-charge Somnath Bharti in his post-Punjab victory visit posed some right questions. He asked the people of Telangana to recollect the purpose for which a separate State had come into existence. Many intellectuals, betrayed by the present dispensation, ask the same question.

What AAP needs right away is a leader and well-known face. The party's enrolment drive seems to have gained momentum following the formation of government in Punjab and the cadres are eagerly waiting for the arrival of AK to launch a padayatra on April 14 with an aim of achieving 'Saamajika Telangana' to mark the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar.

AK carved out his political ideology very well. He recites Hanuman Chalisa like hardcore BJP-bhakt without talking about Lord Ram and gives 'inquilab' slogan like a staunch Communist without referring to Marx or other Marxist, Leninist, Socialist leaders. And, he never forgets to drop Dr Ambedkar's name.

Speculations are rife that Telangana Jana Samithi founded by Prof. Kodandaram, the firebrand chairman of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) during the movement days, will merge with AAP to become a force to face TRS, Congress and BJP. Having grassroot contacts in almost all Telangana districts, the knowledgeable Professor can deflate the KCR's claims of 'Bangaru Telangana.' Prof Kodandaram denied that his party deliberated on the merger but what is wrong in doing so for the sake of Telangana?

(The author, a PhD in Communication and Journalism, is a senior journalist, journalism educator and communication consultant)

(The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of The Hans India)

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