In a short period of time the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has shaken up India's political landscape by offering an honest alternative to the mainstream national parties, specifically the Congress and the BJP. This article is an attempt to understand AAP's credibility on certain crucial dimensions; namely, the integrity of senior leadership, their policy agenda for the underprivileged sections of society, and for the economy and business sector. While doing so, a brief comparison of AAP with BJP and Congress is also attempted by Citizen News Service (CNS). High personal integrity of senior leaders is a fundamental pre-requisite for good governance. It is a starting condition for a party to collectively try to envision an India without vested self interests.
Once this is assured, it is worth looking at a party's agenda for governance and policy while keeping in mind the interests of various sections of the society and the country at large.
Integrity of senior leaders
This is the major basis of AAP's positioning. Most of its senior leaders including those whose candidature has been announced or is likely to be announced are persons with track record of integrity and honest intentions. Coming from diverse professional and socio-economic backgrounds, they have joined AAP as they view it as a platform for positive change. Almost all of them wish to root out corruption and make the governance clean and transparent. Some of them also strongly believe in decentralized governance structure which lends priority to the concerns of the ordinary people and communities.
In stark contrast, both the BJP and the Congress fall way short on this aspect. Modi's cabinet and close associates in Gujarat include several senior persons with serious corruption or criminal charges. This small group has been running the administration without regard to transparency. Even in other states and nationally, the BJP and the Congress have several senior leaders with dubious records and non-transparent ways of working.
Policy agenda for the socio-economically vulnerable sections
This is another dimension on which AAP's agenda is probably the best of the three parties. It professes to follow a combination of 'decentralized governance structure' and 'centrally guaranteed social security on essential livelihood services'.
The decentralized and democratic governance approach that AAP is advocating has elements of Gandhi's idea of 'Swaraj'. In this approach, citizens at every local granular level will participate and have a strong say in the decision-making process about the issues that concern them.
In addition, AAP promises to provide every citizen a 'lifeline' support of services like water, healthcare, schools, electricity, and housing, which are essential inputs to livelihood and to accessing basic socio-economic opportunities in a society. The genuineness of AAP's commitment towards the vulnerable sections like the poor, minorities, workers, dalit, and tribal people is also displayed in its choice of several senior social activists in its leadership and Lok Sabha candidates.