'Why I am not in Aam Aadmi Party?'

Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsaysay Awardee and CNS Columnist
[First published in Tehelka] Some friends are calling to suggest that I should join Aam Aadmi Party while others want to know whether they should join. Some think that I am close to AAP and want me to recommend their names as candidate for the next general elections from their respective constituencies while some experts of different fields are offering their services for the benefit of schemes for poor to be implemented by AAP in Delhi.

One policewoman called me to beseech that Arvind Kejriwal should accept security as she thought, with her experience of having watched politicians from close quarters, they cannot be trusted.

I am not in AAP because Justice Rajinder Sachar, when he revived the Socialist Party in 2011, asked me to join it. This is the party of Dr. Ram Manohar Lohia, Jaiprakash Narayan, Acharya Narendra Dev, Achyut Patwardhan and others which had merged with Janata Party in 1977. I was also part of People’s Political Front which was formed by Kuldeep Nayar before the last general elections. I am devoting my energies to build both the Socialist Party as well as the PPF, which brings together about a dozen small parties. Now I think that just because AAP has become successful I should not leave my organizations and join it. We have to remember that the political culture that we wish to cleanse includes defecting from one party to another when one sees greener pastures. That is why law against defection had to be enacted. Of course, the option of alliance when there is agreement in ideology and working style is open.

But the main reason why I am not in AAP is because AAP’s focus is on corruption whereas I think that the central issue for our society as well as globally is inequality. So long as we are not able to build a society where every human being respects another human being to the same extent that he(she) expects for himself(herself) from others we’ll not have a humane society. This will not be achieved by merely getting rid of corruption or establishing swarajya.

Let us assume that in Arvind Kejriwal’s rule corruption has been totally banished. There is not a single paisa of bribe being given or taken. Let us also assume that people directly participate in every decision making through gram sabhas or mohalla sabhas, i.e., swarajya has been established. Will we be satisfied then?

What will happen to the caste based discrimination? Will every rich be willing to sit beside the poor? Will every woman feel safe and there will be total end of patriarchy? Will there be end to violence? Will half the children, victims of malnutrition and therefore school dropouts, start receiving full nutritious meals as well as be able to attend schools of the quality which children of rich go to? Will a poor be able to receive treatment of the same quality which a rich can buy in private hospitals?

AAP has promised to halve the electricity bill but what about those who are yet to be connected to the grid and probably will never get connected? We simply don’t produce enough electricity in this country for everybody because we don’t have enough resources. The rich the poor in the service of rich will get it and but not every poor. If we don’t find a cleaner alternative to thermal power soon, the situation of paucity is not going to change in near future.

Water is a natural resource and meant to fulfill basic needs of all human beings. The government or any private company doesn’t have any right to sell it. It is government’s responsibility that all human beings get as much water as they need for drinking, irrigation, bathing, clothes washing, etc. But water should not be wasted in swimming pools, water parks, golf fields and other big lawns, etc. In fact, there should be a ban on private installation of water pumps except for the purpose of irrigation. If this happens there will be no need to place a limit on water usage. When farmers adopt organic farming the need for water for irrigation will also reduce.

Since we want to build a humane society which will not have any place for violence we dream of creating a weapons free world – at the level of individual as well as nations. Hence Socialist Party has decided that its members should not just not discriminate among human beings, be against all forms of corruption but also believe in the concept of security without weapons. Brave people like Arvind Kejriwal don’t feel the need for weapons for their security.

AAP’s foundation is based on the concept of nationalism. The popular slogans of AAP are Bharat Mata ki Jai and Vande Matram. We believe that concept of nationhood is as divisive as that of caste and religion.  The security of nations is ensured by relations with neighbours based on trust and not by nuclear weapons.

It is because of above-mentioned differences in some of these basic ideological issues and also because of the corporate style functioning of AAP where people are being associated not on the basis of human relationships but because of their utility value, a person like me doesn’t feel comfortable being part of AAP. However since AAP is out to change the decadent political culture of this country it has our full support and we wish it will rid the politics of this country of corruption and criminalization. [First published in Tehelka]

Dr Sandeep Pandey, Magsyasay Awardee and CNS Columnist
January 2014 

(The author is a Ramon Magsaysay Awardee and a senior social activist. He is the Vice President of Socialist Party (India) and member, National Presidium, Lok Rajniti Manch. He has led National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) and is a former faculty of IIT Kanpur. Presently he is a faculty at Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) BHU. He did his PhD from University of California, Berkeley and is a visiting faculty for a number of US Universities and IITs in India. Email: ashaashram@yahoo.com)

Published in:
Citizen News service (CNS), India
Tehelka News, New Delhi, India