“Your party needed Rs 20 crores to fight Delhi elections. We have met that target. We don't need any more money for Delhi elections,” tweeted Arvind Kejriwal, AAP’s national convener - Simple, direct and unbelievable. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) then went on to stop accepting donations on their website. When probed a little further on the issue by a reporter as to why the party had stopped accepting donations, he said, “We had set a target, we have achieved it. We are not here to accumulate money from donations!”
When is the last time a political party said, thank you, we don’t need any more donations? (Many of our existing political parties have a big enough war chest to say this. But would they?) When is the last time a political party vowed to fight elections purely on donations from the common man? When is the last time a political party could account for every paisa that was donated to it? When is the last time a political party could provide a list of its donors no matter what amount they donated to the party? When is the last time a political party released its income and expense statements on its website?
Arvind Kejriwal, AAP’s National convener, has the habit of saying, “Desh me ek prakrithik shakti paida hui hai (a unique force of nature seems to have taken shape in the country).” In the backdrop of rampant corruption, blatant nepotism, and black money, AAP’s approach to this election is truly unique and commendable, and it nothing short of a miracle to accomplish what AAP has achieved as of today. This might sound bizarre and superstitious, but I must confess, Kejriwal’s words about a “prakritik shakti” ring true.
This is surely a watershed moment in Indian politics. It is hard not to be excited and optimistic about India’s future, when you see a new political force fueled by the youth emerge in the nation’s capital. It is interesting to note that AAP has gone from being treated as a marginal player to a key participant in a three-way contest to a possible winner of the Delhi elections – quite a journey in less than a year.
The decision of the AAP to say we have enough funding is significant in many ways. It shows that when it comes to election funding, it is possible to run an honest campaign. It is also possible to stay within the amounts outlined by the EC. The results of the elections, should AAP win, could prove that you don’t need huge sums of money to win elections. It is possible to appeal to “the better angels of our nature” to raise funds for an election campaign directly from the people. In other words, when you have honest intentions and work hard to get across your message to the masses, they respond, and respond with unbelievable support.
The AAP has managed to establish a deep level of trust among its supporters. It appears to have instilled a strong belief in its honesty and integrity. At a time when trust and confidence in our political class is at its nadir, this is no mean achievement. There is little doubt that the Aam Aadmi Party is a party that has dared to be different. It has consistently gone against the tide of conventional politics. In comparison, our traditional political parties appear so boring and “old school.” - “Probe their funding,” “B-team of Congress,” “B-team of BJP,” among other mundane political accusations.
Now, in a last ditch effort to malign the party and sway the voters there has been a recent sting against the AAP candidates. Clearly, it appears to be an attempt to strike at the very heart of AAP’s biggest strength – its integrity and clean image starting with that of Arvind Kejriwal. It begs the question as to why now – just a few days before the elections?
if the AAP was indeed corrupt, why would it stop accepting donations? It just doesn’t add up. It just doesn’t fit the phenomenal AAP story.
Written by P Kurup. For Economic Times.
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