There are times when you don’t know whether to laugh or to cry - Like when you watch the spokespersons of political parties such as the Congress and the BJP parrying pointed questions about the sources of their funds. The Union Home Minister’s decision to probe funds of the Aam Aadmi party (AAP) just complicated the discussion even more for the Congress and BJP. “Why target a fledgling political outfit which has raised a paltry 19 crores through tens of thousands of small transparent donations when as per publicly available data the Congress and the BJP have handsome kitties of 2000 crores and 800 crores respectively -- a majority of which were received in hard cash and can’t be traced to specific donors?” - is a fundamental question that comes to mind.
While there are no easy answers for both the Congress and the BJP, by raising a furore the two have unwittingly put AAP on the media map and in the forefront of the public consciousness.
For the first time in India’s history we have a political party starting from ground zero with no money whatsoever and promising to raise funds directly from the public. In the spirit of transparency the party has listed every single donation on the website and continues to do so as the issue is being debated threadbare. The NRI community has stepped up to support AAP through online donations and the government now calls that “foreign funding”. Perhaps the government thinks NRIs are Not Really Indians. Sadly, the Government’s interaction with the NRI community has been reduced to having a dog and pony show once a year on Pravasi Divas.
And what does the BJP have to say on the government probe into AAP’s donations? It says the AAP is a front for the Congress and that is why it has taken them so long to institute a probe. Applying the same logic, the AAP rightly pointed out that since the Congress or the BJP have not called for probes on each other’s sources of funding for years, they are probably working in collusion! Not surprisingly AAP has accepted the challenge and turned the heat on the Congress and the BJP by asking for a probe into their respective finances.
It appears that the public has now woken up to the reality that our political parties are deeply mired .in “black money.” This is partly due to corrupt practices and partly due to not having effectives systems and institutions in place to curb this menace.
It’s not surprising that AAP’s message has struck a chord among the people of Delhi. Both the Congress and the BJP are getting increasingly desperate and on a war-path. Sheila Dixit and team have stepped out on the election field in the last few weeks leading up to the polls. She went from ridiculing AAP as a party, to admitting that AAP had captured the imagination of the people of Delhi, to making a desperate attempt to question AAP’s funding sources.
The BJP on the other hand seems to be attempting last ditch efforts to resuscitate a floundering campaign. It’s poster strongman, Modi, appears to have abandoned Delhi as a lost cause, after a few valiant token strikes that failed to produce the magical wave.
Meanwhile, AAP seems to be on a roll and back in the media limelight. The heightened visibility in the media and controversial probe into its funding seems to have emboldened its core base and broadened its support as seen in the rapid increase in donations since the probe saga broke out. The scenario playing out in Delhi today has a strong similarity to the Obama campaign of 2008 where every time his opponents went on a negative attack his donations spiked!
Winter might be upon Delhi but both BJP and the Congress are surely facing some serious heat. “If you can’t face the heat, get out of the kitchen” goes the saying. It looks like the people of Delhi are inclined to mete out this treatment to both the BJP and the Congress now that they have a strong alternative in AAP.