AAP: A party no different from the others

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Swati’s appointment is just the tip of the iceberg. In fact, it appears that AAP has been following a rather eccentric and autocratic policy for the appointment of employees at the Delhi secretariat. Ashwini Upadhyay, Delhi BJP  spokesperson and former associate of Kejriwal, raises questions on these appointments, “The total staff at the secretariat was 85 in Sheila Dikshit’s regime which has now swollen to 205. Even if we consider 15 or so high profile appointments, what about the other 100? Did they even advertise about such vacancies in public? I think not,” Upadhyaya tells Tehelka.

The AAP has also been changing its stances rather frequently. One such example is giving Ashish Khetan, vice chairman of the Delhi Dialogue Commission (DDC), the status of Cabinet minister. The party had made it clear from the beginning that the ddc was to be a voluntary body which would assist the government in policy formation.

Adoption of traditional political measures is evident in the AAP’s inclination towards advertisement also. The party, which once attracted public attention through their unique and organic methods, has now gone for an extravagant advertisement budget, ranging from hoardings to TV commercials. After facing criticism from the Opposition, public activists and the electorate, the party has formulated arguments to defend itself and its advertisement campaign. As per party supremo Kejriwal, negative reporting by media has forced them to depend on ads. When Tehelka asked the Delhi government media advisor about the sudden increase in advertisement expenditure, he replied, “We accept that Rs 526 crore is a big budget, but we have tried to decrease the cost too. As the deputy cm’s friends are behind the production, the cost to the government is zero. Also, the tally now looks bigger as we have consolidated our advertisement which was earlier divided amongst several departments.”

Even voters from Kejriwal’s own constituency are against such an ad campaign. “He says that he would bring down the cost of building medical clinics from Rs 5 crore to Rs 15 lakh. He is seeking funds from corporate houses, instead he could have contributed this 500 crore ad budget for the Aam Aadmi clinics,” says an elderly voter from Aliganj.

It seems that many voters of his constituency are also dissatisfied with his performance as MLA. “As a CM, we are satisfied with his performance but his contribution as an MLA is zero. He is yet to visit our constituency,” says Ananda of BK Dutt Colony. Kejriwal’s failure to reach out to constituency has created a sense of dissatisfaction in many.

Small time leaders of the Congress and the BJP have followed the tradition of littering the street with their posters, banners and hoardings for decades now. When the AAP came into power, the city got a sense of relief, but not for long. One can easily notice AAP banners all around the city with pictures of Arvind Kejriwal, MLAs and several others. “Public money is being misused for political propaganda which is prohibited by the Supreme Court. They are clearly not trying to establish an alternative political culture. Rather, the same tradition is being carried out,” says Bhushan.

The cyss, it appears, is also moving on the path chalked out by students’ organisations of traditional political parties. Like its parent party, the CYSS claims that it stands against the money and muscle- power politics which others practice rampantly in the university space, especially in Delhi University (DU). Interestingly the walls of campuses are prominently covered with its advertisements.

On the first day of the new academic session in DU, MLAs from AAP  along with glamorous figures such as Raghu Ram (of the Roadies fame) were ‘entrusted’ with support-garnering responsibilities in the university campus. Such activities are in direct conflict with the recommendations of the Lyngdoh committee. “Putting MLAs outside colleges, littering the campus with posters and making use of glamorous faces, is what the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and the National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) have been doing for years now. CYSS is an addition to this culture,” says Anmol Ratan, state president, All India Students Association (AISA).

The CYSS is yet to take a stand on Choice Based Credit System (CBCS). However, Anmol Panwar, CYSS’ state vice president says, “We will soon take a call on CBCS, there were several other issues which needed more attention.” He quickly takes a convenient position to add, “We will reach out to students and seek their consensus before supporting or opposing it.”

Considering the fact that AAP has already adopted the malices of traditional political parties, that too in a short time, it raises the question whether the AAP comfortably positioning itself as party without a difference.

amit.bhardwaj@tehelka.com

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