With the AAP’s resounding debut in Delhi, many new and existing political formations come to the limelight. Although many have tried to do an AAP in the past, none of them met with such success. An alternative to the Congress-BJP duo has usually been a regional boss like NCP, SP, BSP, TDP, DMK and so on. But parties which have been formed to cater to the urban middle class have not usually garnered popular support.
In our chat with Mrs. Vinita Deshmukh, the Lok Sabha candidate from Pune, we learnt a lot of inside stories. Mrs. Deshmukh is a firebrand activist, having spearheaded numerous RTI campaigns, Metro-awareness drives and other social awareness programs. She has also been a journalist with the Indian Express, rising to become its resident editor. She has also authored three books. In our chat, she revealed the horse-trading at the local level between the BJP and Congress, while quoting the Pune city head of the BJP which raised many questions (Check the embedded video for more) In her journey as a journalist and activist, she has observed underhand dealings and wrong doings by both in tandem with each other.
Mrs. Deshmukh represents the Nav Bharat Democratic Party, another new-born, transparency-promising outfit. The Nav Bharat is another one in the group which includes the AAP, Lok Satta, SDPI, WPI and others which promise transparency and change. However, the question arises, how successful have each one of them been?
The Lok Satta, often viewed as a one-man show is restricted to the city of Hyderabad. However, its main protagonist, Jayprakash Narayan did manage to capture the heart of the voters in the Kukatpally assembly seat and won it by a storm. The Lok Satta also performed well in two other constituencies it fought in, securing the second place in both. One of its leader’s Dilip Sankarreddy, was invited to speak about his dynamic campaign at the Harvard India Conference 2013 which is organized by the Harvard Business School and the Harvard Kennedy School.
The Social Democratic Party of India, however, has shaken the local politics of many states. It won in Panchayat elections in Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Kerala, with some of its candidate even getting the seats of the Sarpanch. It gave an amazing performance in the local-body elections in these states winning over 80 seats in total. In the assembly elections of Karnatak many of its candidates secured second and third places in their respective constituencies and proved to be the king-maker in those, breaking the vote-banks there and making incumbent heavyweights lose. Considering that this outfit is hardly -5 years old, there performance has been commendable.
However, the same cannot be said for the Welfare Party of India. It contested the Karnatak assembly elections, but gave a dismal performance in each of the 15 places it contested from. However, its candidate against President Pranab Mukherjee’s son put up a bold show, securing around 40,000 votes in the by-election.
These new parties have adapted to progressing techniques in their campaign. AAP’s methods included striking a chord with the hearts of the common man. Be it using Rickshaws, which are a spine of the daily life of Delhi, or hawkers and street vendors to campaign for the broom, all have definitely borne fruit. Social media initiatives played a massive role in their victory.
The Lok Satta’s campaign is a unique one. Dilip Sankarreddy’s campaign echoes the same view. The activism and slogans do not start mere months away from elections. In fact, the Lok Satta cadre campaign on a regular basis in the five-year period where a government is in power.
SDPI has given a chance to the oppressed and depressed classes, especially the youth. Having personally witnessed one of their rallies, the topic of debate and discussion was ‘Save the Democracy’, unlike the regular ones like ‘Inflation and Corruption’. Each of its members was given a chance to express their views on the same, no matter how common and absurd. The youth at the rally, from the backward classes, felt honored to be asked to point out how each one of them could personally save the Democratic system of the country from getting corrupted.
The Nav Bharat Democratic Party’s candidate campaigns early morning in public gardens, in the afternoon with laborers and workers and in the evening, over tea with families and professionals. It has a growing support base, especially as it has been trying to get the voters to at least go and vote, even if not for them. Their calculations point out that a very minuscule percentage of voters actually go out and vote, and hence you have the cast-creed-religion equation be the king-maker. It is however, a newly formed outfit and has not contested any election. Its performance is yet to be seen.
All done and said, new options are available. Till now, the third front consisted of the regional players like SP, BSP, NCP, BJD, and CPM and so on. But these, only espoused the causes of certain sections of society which are almost, at all times, never fulfilled. Slowly and gradually, the common man has now acquired the power of NOTA and the other emerging parties.