In an attempt to woo voters ahead of next year's Goa Assembly election, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) national convener and Delhi Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, promised free pilgrimage to various religious centers, including Ram temple in Ayodhya, if his party is voted to power in the state.
The Aam Aadmi Party was started in 2012 with the main motive of bringing about an anti-corruption bill and making India corruption-free. In 2014, when AAP could not pass the Jan Lokpal Bill in the parliament, it resigned the coalition it had formed with Congress and made headlines as the government that did not last 50 days. This move reveals something very important about the Aam Aadmi Party — the motive of this centrist party was initially to solve the problems India faced as a third-world democracy. However, its recent promise of free pilgrimage to Ayodhya and other holy sites has raised questions about its stand as a centrist party. While AAP had gained a lot of popularity for the way it governed Delhi between 2015 and 2020, with the opening of model schools, free public transportation for women and other freebies for the citizens, its way of handling the Goa Election seems to be borderline fascist. This announcement begs the question — Is the Aam Aadmi Party losing its fundamental ideology to be in power?
So what is AAP’s fundamental ideology?
AAP happens to be a solution-driven party that is comfortable borrowing ideologies from left and right as and when the situation demands. However, during the 2013 protests that made Kejriwal popular, he spoke many times of how he wanted to bring about a government that merely works for the people. A columnist, T. C. A. Srinivasa Raghavan, said that the AAP was right-wing when it came to morality and left-wing when it came to economics.
Among the other manifestos promised is employment for at least one member of a family and free 300 units of electricity per family. Kejriwal had previously kept his promise of partly free electricity in Delhi. While this was done by eradicating corruption, the employment of such a large number of people will require a huge investment in industries. Even with the economy bouncing back, skill-based employment would have been a better promise to make. How the Aam Aadmi Party plans on employing people without skills is little known to his critics. In another of his manifestos, AAP said that it would provide a monthly allowance of Rs.5000 for people from mining and tourism since it was in such a bad shape. Previously, many governments have made such promises of giving monthly allowance to people from extremely low income. The problem with this is that it is not a permanent solution and will simply turn people lazy over time. Even if the funds are arranged and AAP is able to keep its promises, one cannot stop himself from calling out on AAP’s fascism towards the Goa elections.
Coming to Punjab elections, the state is yet to witness its 2022 assembly elections but parties have already started to promise freebies. Punjab’s population dynamic is very different from that of Goa’s and AAP has used the population demographic to its advantage by offering to pay a sum of Rs.1000 to every girl above the age of 18. This move comes as an attempt to remove gender-based backwardness by making women more financially independent. Mankind knows well that the best way of fighting social injustice is by educating people. Offering freebies will make their lives easy but will it really help them grow as an individual and us as a society - this and many more questions lie in the minds of voters and political analysts as one of the major political parties is showing a shift in its paradigm this election season. The reason behind this shift could be its poor performance in the municipal polling of 2014.
The article was written by Shagufa Bava for Paradigm
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