By Devika Sharma
The “Common Man” party’s fledgling performance has galvanized political participation in a huge way as hoards of people across India are rushing to join a force that they hope will bring about good governance.
Aam Aadmi Party after coming to power has succeeded in exhibiting a break from traditional politics. AAP signifies a paradigm shift in 2 ways. First, the AAP has been formed, not by the big shots in politics but by the common people. Its entire leadership comprises of activists barely known till India Against Corruption started three years ago in 2010. And second, that AAP transcends, what they call, politics of citizenship. AAP’s primary pitch is for good governance has been its promise to fight corruption and bring transparency to governance
The emergence of AAP has also highlighted the limitations that transparency faces. Transparency is subjective. The anti-corruption movement from which AAP emerged was formed by people who had been using RTI as a tool to delve deep for information and unmask corruption. But they gradually realized that successive exposes of corruption had little significance without independent investigative and prosecuting agencies.
In 2005 when the RTI Act was passed by the UPA government, it was deemed to be revolutionary, a law with the potential of bringing back power balance. Now the rise of AAP, is suggesting a rebalancing of power. AAP’s initiatives such as “I paid a bribe” precipitated popular mobilization against corruption.
A press release by AAP stated that “All government services and forms will be made available online and through mobile phones. Data on the government projects, performance, accounts and personnel will be made transparent and online. This will bring transparency and accountability in governance. AAP will scout for and implement projects based on the motto: “Big Change without Big Spending”
AAP, for the first time in India’s history of political parties, is transparent about its income and expenditure. Every rupee it receives is updated on its web site. AAP has pioneered one way of eliminating the source of graft by transparent sourcing and reporting contributions.
After coming to power AAP has been regularly updating its website and informing people about its meetings, policy decisions, funding, and other whereabouts. They have taken e-governance to a whole new level. They have also taken up interesting campaigns wherein they are installing bill boards on flyovers stating the expenditure that went into making of those flyovers.
An Anti corruption helpline was launched, encouraging citizens to report cases of corruption. This has resulted in several officials being caught. Importantly, there is increased deterrence amongst officials, which has brought about a decrease in the acts of corruption in the city.
The “VIP” culture, which is a legacy left to us by our colonial rulers, has been abolished. ‘lal batti’ cars and other privileges have been brought to a halt by the AAP govt.
20 liters of water has been made free for all homes in Delhi. Also, the schedule of water tanker operations is now publicly available for citizens to assess. The AAP also launched a helpline number for parents to report cases of bribery and harassment by schools regarding nursery admissions of children.
AAP has demonstrated that information can become a weapon for popular mobilization and create endless possibilities for deeper governance reform.