Weekly Politics @ India, 24 Nov 2013: Arvind Kejriwal and his Rendezvous with Politics; Social Media under EC purview; Chattisgarh succesfull polls; Congress bizarre excuses for Low crowd in Rallies

Evaluation of Aam Aadmi Party and its Theatrics
Let us evaluate Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in its short stint as political party. It has done several dharnas, rallies and street protests (recent Jhadu yatra, protests against salman khurshid). It has asked for public funding specially dollar funding (possibly black and foreign, link). It has given tickets to scamsters (manish sisodia, anjali damaniya, link), criminals (rajesh garg a blackmailer, link) and over 50% crorepatis (shazia ilmi the richest leader, link).

AAP has fallen to the level of SP to appease Muslims (calling Batla encounter fake: link; blaming BJP for Muzaffarnagar riots: link; meets Maulana Taqueez who offered supari for Taslima Nasreen: link), has lost language ethics (calling shinde harami link; calling swamy serial killer link), has changed its own stance (removed its statement blaming BJP for Muzaffarnagar riots following exposes by a sting operation: link), has asked people to accept money to vote (link). Recent theatrics at PC was even beyond MSPs (mainstream parties) (link). When rallies and speeches failed to pull people, it resorted to music concerts to create crowds (link).

AAP misuses Anna's name willfully
Worst criticism of AAP and personally Arvind Kejriwal is the misuse of name of Anna Hazare and misuse of funds in his name (watch this video, another link). Anna openly confronted Arvind Kejriwal that over 3 Crore funds collected during anti-corruption campaign and his fast in name of India Against Corruption (IAC) is being misused. He also charges AAP is collecting funds in his name (for "Anna" Janlokpal). Not just that, AAP is also asking for votes in Anna's name (again for "Anna" Janlokpal). It also strikes a sentimental cord with public by asking to vote for AAP to make Anna's two week fast at Ramlila Maidan finally successful.

Loopholes in AAP's Manifesto
However, its policies have found loopholes already. AAP is claiming to pass Jan Lokpal Bill in Ramlila Maidan, even though only Loksabha can pass such a bill, given Delhi is a UT. They also claim to bring Delhi police under state control, again a power vested only with Center. What are gram sabhas going to achieve when municipalities are already in place, duly elected by same people? In any case, they can't be given any financial or administrative power legally, as any law to that effect would be passed at Center only. In essence, these sabhas would remain a "suggestive" body. (link).

Overall, AAP has learnt the dirty tricks of politics fairly well in comparably shorter span of time. And, it must be commended for it. 

Social media under EC purview
A new twist into state elections this time is inclusion of social media (incl. all web based content). EC says that content creation, updation, employees and hosting cost will also be part of election expenditure for that candidate. Interestingly, Congress asked EC to take down an year old video: a spoof on its corruption and nepotism (link). This would obviously be inappropriate.

In print medium and rally speeches, we don't hold candidate guilty of his previous speeches or articles written for him before election time. Similarly, on Internet, content created and circulated during election time ONLY should be considered for expenditure and scrutinized under EC poll guidelines. This is because, due to timeless nature of Internet, a popular content remains here irrespective of its age. A simple search still can pull up "Maut ka saudagar" news on Google for anyone to read and be influenced. However, that'd be against the spirit of elections poll code.

Tricky Violations of Election poll codes
During elections, parties try to subvert rules and announce sops to bias voters. Election Commission of India (ECI) should handle such subversion more stringently. Last year, when Himachal pradesh was in polls, EC allowed congress to hold a mega rally (mostly paid crowd) in new delhi, broadcasted whole day over national news channels on the very polling day! Congress eventually won HP by thin margin. Recently, Center announced Bharat Ratna for Sachin Tendulkar trying to cash in his popularity at the eve of his retirement, in the midst of five state elections (link). Even launch of woman's bank, a first of its kind, specifically targeted at female population of country was allowed with full govt. presence in Mumbai. Sonia Gandhi misused it in Rajasthan rally as well (link). This is because, poll manifesto can not have work "during" the election period, but only "before" the election period starts. Hence, asking for votes for doing something "during" elections is a violation of poll code. ECI should take stronger exceptions of populist and targeted schemes. At least, it should restrict spread of such information in election bound states/regions. Election campaigns broadcasted in national news channels is a strict no-no.

Chattisgarh successfull polls
Record over 75% poll in Chattisgarh polls is great news from a poor state. A major thanks goes to EC and its SVEEP initiative (link). Political awareness and participation is best for stability of a state. No Maoist violence in 80% of seats means Chattisgarh is majority free of anti-establishment criminals. Interesting observation which came from this poll is ability of leaders to pull people out of their homes to vote. Narendra Modi pulled more people to vote than Rahul Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi. This also shows that Modi's appeal to people to vote in maximum numbers has returned dividends (link).

Bizarre excuses of Congress for Poor Turn-outs in its Rallies
Congress is getting short of excuses to make up for low attendance in rahul gandhi's rallies and other congress events. They cancelled UP rallies due to karwa chauth and other festivals (link). After many low turn outs in his rallies, Rahul Gandhi pulled up local leaders to ensure decent crowd for him (link). Last week Sheila dixit claimed that due to lack of water availability people left rahul gandhi's speech in between (link). Digvijay Singh went a step further, claiming cows and pigs are driving crowd away (link). Poor show at recent launch of woman's bank at Mumbai when both Sonia and Manmohan plus Chidambaram were present (link).

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