An offshoot of the 2012 India Against Corruption Movement, spearheaded by Anna Hazare, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), was formally launched on 26 November 2012. It is currently in power in the National Capital Territory of New Delhi with Arvind Kejriwal as the Chief Minister. The Aam Aadmi Party was formed after a split in the anti-corruption Movement on the issue of its politicization. Arvind Kejriwal, and other founders of the Aam Aadmi Party felt that direct involvement in the political process was the only way forward for the Movement to be a success, while Anna wanted to keep the Movement unaligned and apolitical.
Here are ten interesting facts about the Aam Aadmi Party.
The Aam Aadmi Party is the first political party in India to publish a list of its donors on its official website, with the record of all the donations that it received from India and abroad. Currently, the party receives donations from almost 75 countries. Indian citizens residing in India, and those living abroad and holding a valid Indian Passport are allowed to donate to the Aam Aadmi Party. The party claims to be the most honest political party in India by trying to maintain a ‘100 percent transparency’ in its procedures.
9. Social Media
The Aam Aadmi Party has been in the news for its social media activities. Very recently, the Party and its Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal drew a lot of public anger on social media, after a tweet from him questioned the Central Government’s version of ‘Surgical Strikes’ asking for proof. The tweet went viral not only in India, but also in Pakistan, where the media actually praised him, and used this tweet to drive home the point that Surgical Strikes never happened. The Aam Aadmi Party has a big presence on social media drawing attention from pro-BJP and pro-Congress trolls on twitter and facebook for running ‘fake’ trends against both these parties.
8. Ideology and Politics
The Aam Aadmi Party was formed with the promise of ensuring equality and justice, which are the two principles enshrined in the Constitution of India. The Party wants to stress on the Gandhian principle of Swaraj – which broadly means self-governance through larger public participation. This, it wants to achieve by reversing the model of accountability within the system, and by promoting a model of greater accountability and responsibility to the common man. Broadly speaking, the Aam Aadmi Party follows a Centre-left ideology. However, its leaders, including Arvind Kejriwal have repeatedly stated that his party refuses to be driven by any set ideology, and would follow any line of thought that has solutions to offer on its agendas about social justice and decentralization of power.
7. Delhi Assembly Elections 2013
The 2013 Delhi Assemble elections were the Aam Aadmi Party’s first elections. AAP established itself as a serious political front in Delhi, after it won 28 out of 70 Assembly seats in Delhi in 2013. While the Bhartiya Janata Party did emerge as the single largest party, it was ahead of the AAP only by a narrow margin of just 2 seats. The Aam Aadmi Party was able to form a minority Government in Delhi with a conditional support from the Congress, as no party had got majority in the elections. This was Arvind Kejriwal’s first tenure as the Chief Minister of Delhi. It was to last just 49 days after the Party declared re-elections in March 2013.
6. Dharnas and Democracy
In January 2014, after being sworn in as the Chief Minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, led protests outside the Rail Bhavan in New Delhi against Delhi Police, alleging inaction on the part of the Delhi police on the concern raised by the then Delhi Law Minister Somnath Bharti about a Ugandan neighbourhood in Delhi. The Aam Aadmi Party activists outside the Rail Bhavan, led my Arvind Kejriwal were demanding that the Delhi Police should be under the authority of the Delhi Government, and not of the Central Government’s Home Ministry. Arvind Kejriwal came under an attack from political opponents as well as the people of Delhi for getting involved in ‘attention-seeking’ politics. The agitation was called off after 2 days, after the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi intervened and agreed to set up an independent enquiry commission. The Aam Aadmi Party was not allowed to table its Jan Lokpal bill in the Assembly, after the Lieutenant Governor accused the AAP of trying to fulfil its agenda through ‘unconstitutional’ means within the Assembly. This forced the Party legislators and the Chief Ministers to resign and call for a re-election.
One of the main election issues for AAP was the inflated electricity bills in Delhi. In March 2013, the AAP, led by Kejriwal organized a protest in Delhi against the electricity bills and urged people to not pay the inflated amounts of electricity bills. He also called for an enquiry and audit of the electricity board. His stance on this issue drew him support from activists like Medha Patkar and Aruna Roy.
The Aam Aadmi Party receives donations through private donors in India and abroad. On its foundation day, the AAP received a donation on USD 10 million from the former law Minister Shanti Bhushan, whose son Prashant Bhushan was then a part of the National Executive Committee of AAP. AAP also enjoys a support base across the United States.
4. 2014 General Elections
The Aam Aadmi party did not expect to do well in the 2014 General Elections, especially after its fiasco in running the Delhi Government in 2013. Nevertheless, it contested on 434 seats for the Lok Sabha. The most talked about contest was Varanasi, where Arvind Kejriwal fielded himself against the Bhartiya Janata Party’s Prime Ministerial candidate – Narendra Modi. The party lost all but 4 seats from Punjab, where post 2014 elections it came to be recognized as a serious political contender.
3. 2015 Delhi Assembly Elections
The Aam Aadmi Party registered a landslide victory in the 2015 Delhi Assembly elections by winning 67 out of 70 Delhi Assembly seats. The Bharatiya Janata Party emerged the second largest party having won 3 seats. The Indian National Congress failed to win a single seat in the Assembly.
2. Controversy, Split and Swaraj Abhiyaan
Eight sitting members of Delhi Assembly from AAP have been arrested for cases including forgery, sexual abuse, assault, rioting etc. The most prominent name among them has been that of Jitendra Singh Tomar, the ex-Law Minister of Delhi, who was arrested on the charges of forging his degree certificates. Another big controversy includes APP member of Legislative Assembly Sandeep Kumar, who was ousted from the party by Arvind Kejriwal following a ‘sex-tape’ controversy.
After the debacle of 2014 General elections, Shazia Ilmi, one of the founding members of the Aam Aadmi Party quit alleging lack of democratic process in the internal decision making of the Party.
Similar reasons were cited by Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav, stating that the Party cadre had a very little say in the decision-making process. Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan have now founded a new political party ‘Swaraj Abhiyaan’ after a split from the Aam Aadmi Party, while Shazia Ilmi went on to join the Bhartiya Janata Party.
1. Vote Share
The Aam Aadmi party secured a vote share of 32.9 percent in Delhi in the 2014 General Assembly elections – the highest among all the contesting parties, yet failed to win even a single Lok Sabha seat from Delhi. Its vote share shot up 53.4 percent in 2015 Assembly Elections in Delhi securing a landslide victory for the Party.
Although, the Aam Aadmi party is being increasingly seen as Populist and not popular, one has to wait and watch if it has been successful in introducing and popularising this new kind of firebrand politics in the Indian political mainstream. The upcoming Punjab Assembly elections remain the biggest test for AAP.