AAP and Democracy

A Correspondent

The Ambanis, who head the list of Indian borrowers of foreign commercial credits, have again hit the headlines. Their role in the extraction of gas from the Krishna-Godavari belt and the consequent overpricing of this essential commodity is a well-known fact, and this hegemony was challenged by the Aam Admi Party (AAP) and its chief, Arvind Kejriwal. The result of this challenge has been the Congress and the BJP joining hands to oppose this new party, the upshot of which has been Kejriwal's decision to resign. From the challenge hurled by Kejriwal to Narendra Modi on the question of the latter's attitude to the Ambanis and the BJP's attempt to sidetrack the point by raising questions about the credibility of Kejriwal, it should be clear to anybody with some power to think that BJP does not have the guts to come out with an unequivocal stand. If it openly champions the cause of the Ambanis, it will be discredited. And if it openly opposes the exploitative game played by this corporate group, it will hand over a political weapon to the AAP and lose, at least partially, the favour of the corporate lobby. The BJP, at its present state, cannot afford this loss. The AAP has thus scored a political victory, which has been reinforced by daring both the Congress and the BJP to declare their sources of funds.

What is however worrying, and somewhat distressing, to the well-meaning people is the disorder within the AAP itself. The recent episode about the shouting down of Madhu Bhaduri when she tried to speak about the alleged harassment of three Ugandan women in Delhi and the latest event of dissension regarding the choice of candidates for the Lok Sabha polls in an allegedly bureaucratic manner are distressing events. The early history of the CPI(M-L) shows clearly that when a party leadership becomes bureaucratic, the party loses its fighting power. A bureaucratic party leadership can never properly lead its activists, let alone the people. If greater democratization of the polity (and the economy as well), is one desirable objective, the party structure must also be democratic.

This question apart, when one tries to fight corruption, one must have some idea about the sources of this corruption. In India, the issue of corruption is basically a class issue and the current policies of globalization and neo-liberalism, which has allowed the number of billionaires to grow and has aggravated inequality are definite promoters of corruption. Incidentally India home to the fifth largest group of billionaires in the world and Mr Mukesh Ambani, Chairman of Reliance Industries—the company that is in news for its dubious role in gas scam—is the country's richest man with a personal fortune of $18 billion.

No movement against corruption can succeed in the long run unless the issue of plunder of land, water and other resources in the interests of the corporate bourgeoisie, domestic and foreign, along with the issue of finding an alternative path of development, is taken up. The AAP must provide the Indian people with an alternative vision of development if it really wants to acquire a stable mass basis. This alternative vision must be oriented towards the empowerment of the broad masses, not of the elite classes. It is of course true that the working out of the different aspects of this vision in concrete terms and the translation of this vision into reality are parts of a long drawn process and may involve the people in many struggles. The reason is that the advocates of neo-liberal globalization will oppose it tooth and nail because they have to defend their vested interests. Yet such concretization is an immediate necessity in order to beat back the exponents of the so-called TINA (there is no alternative) thesis, and to demonstrate the essentially anti-people character of their views. This is the need of the hour.


Vol. 46, No. 38, Ma r30 - Apr 5, 2014