Sunday, 24 August 2014

AAP is the first nationally viable alternative politics experiment: Yogendra Yadav



Professor Yadav at ISAS, NUS with Associate Professor Rahul Mukherji
and AAP's North Mumbai candidate, Satish Jain.


Satish Jain after the session. 
Professor Yogendra Yadav spoke at the Institute of South Asian Studies (ISAS) yesterday. His seminar was titled "Politics of Social Movement: Reflections on the +Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Experience in India", he was joined by Satish Jain - AAP's Mumbai North candidate for Lok Sabha elections. The session was chaired by Rahul Mukherji, head of research and honorary senior fellow at ISAS and associate professor in the South Asian Studies programme at National University of Singapore (NUS).  

Here are some of the notes I took at the seminar:

  1. Professor Yadav defined the +Aam Aadmi Party as the, "First nationally viable alternative politics experiment."
  2. Alternative politics does not mean alternative to politics. We need to change the system by fighting elections. There is no alternative to this. This is the second freedom struggle and it has to come through elections not by revolution. 
  3. AAP is still an experiment but scaling and learning quickly. 
  4. AAP is politically viable, the first such movement nationwide, since independence. 
  5. Every other major party are offshoots those existed in 1947. There have been many experiments, I had the pleasure to work with many spectacularly failed experiments. 
  6. We have crossed the threshold of viability and visibility with the Lok Sabha elections. 
  7. Logic of politics is that it punishes you if you think small scale. BSP founder, the late Kanshi Ram, understood this. BSP contests all seats in a state.
  8. AAP has achieved cross sectional visibility
  9. Social media key to success. BJP made better use of social media, they saw how effective were and since they have the resources, the hired a vast army of paid professionals. We couldn't manage that, we are volunteer based. 
  10. Social media is a good trigger, it's vital to our communication strategy but social media is not the main driver or the reason AAP came into existence. 
  11. It was our first election and I don't see it has a bad result, we got 2% of the votes, that's 11 million votes. 
  12. Even this failure is a spectacular success. 
    Rahul Mukherji's introduction. 
    1. In parts of Kashmir, where you have to pay to get posters put up, I was surprised to see posters of Arvind Kejriwal. 
    2. Open ended attempt, we are constantly evolving, learning and growing. 
    3. Not Right, Centre or Left. Those are pre fabricated political ideas of the 20th century. 
    4. It's our lack of understanding of these theories that helped us. If we had try to define ourselves to these ideologies, we would have not got to where we are today. It's like being in this NUS campus with a map of +New York University. Your chances of finding your way around is more when you have no map at all than the wrong map. 
    5. People did mock us, many still do but I don't think defining an ideology is the way forward. It's outdated. 
    6. We need to be liberated from these outdated scripts. 
    7. We have a lot of goodwill, but not all who felt that way have voted for us. For every one vote, there were 3 to 4 who wanted to. 
    8. There is a setting or understanding amongst major parties, you don't raise issues relating to Robert Vadra, Ranjan Bhattacharya and now Reliance.
    9. National agenda is shifting and we are making it happen. Even the NCP's manifesto calls for corruption free India. While it's lip service by the name parties, we see this as our achievement. We have been able to put pressure on the other parties on corruption, now they think twice before appointing or giving someone a ticket with corruption charges.
    10. What happened in Gurgaon, polarisation. There was a 70:30 divide. It's hard to fight religious polarisation. 
    11. The era of isms are over. Markets are here to stay. State is here to stay. We need a combination to ensure transparency. Ideology. 
    12. Some Leftists whisper to him wishing AAP was Left. He tells them, "If AAP was Left it would be a disaster. We need freedom from such ideology." 
    13. Victory is BJP is good because it can lead to the destruction of Congress. Congress still have votes of the poor, they are the biggest obstacle. With 44 seats and Rahul Gandhi as their leader it's going to be tough for them. 
    14. Fighting Modi for five years is the best gift you can for mother India. 
    15. We have attracted the finest public spirit Indians. There is a vacuum we need to fill. 
    The talk was followed by informal Q&A.

    Short term challenges:
    1. Recover Delhi. It's like launching a rocket, we need to go full blast to escape gravity. India Today survey is encouraging. It's the BJP's fear which is holding them back from declaring election. 
    Medium term:

    1. Organisational challenges, get a form that's not in textbooks. Strike the right balance between party and movement. 
    2. Create a policy framework, not ideology 
    Long term challenge: 

    1. Redefine what it means to do politics. Politics must be about doing constructive work.  
    Notes from Satish Jain's talk:
    1. He doesn't consider his quitting his career and joining AAP as a sacrifice.  Especially when you see the sacrifices made by Satyendra Dubey and Santosh Koli.  
    2. AAP is like a freedom struggle. 
    3. He gave example of the electricity scam in Maharashtra exposed by AAP. Which led to NCP goons attacking the AAP office. 
    4. We might not have won the elections but we made an impact 
    5. AAP fought the elections nationally with rupees 20 to 30 crores, Congress and BJP spend that in my constituency alone.
    6. We developed a housing plan for poor. Other parties want poor to stay poor to keep their vote banks. 
    7. We achieved quiet a bit. But a lot more to do. More needed to be done and people are still joining us. National election different to local.
    8. Anti corruption hotline is setup in Maharashtra recently and it is already having its impact.  
    9. Mohila Sabhas working well, more power to the people. 
    10. Coming back in Delhi important for proving our governance model. We are more than just a group of good people.
    11. 100% transparent funding. No corporates, all individuals. If we took money from the business group, it will lead to crony capitalism, it encourages give and take. 
    12. We fought most seats with rupees 5 to 10 lakhs. We think we can overcome funding shortfall with spirited volunteers. 
    13. It was smart to contest nationally. 
    14. But we are not going to contest assembly elections (Maharashtra, Haryana, etc.) because regaining Delhi is important. 
    Yogendra Yadev was in Singapore for the IIMPACT conference. His talk was organised by AAP volunteer, Rajen Makhijani.