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Muqbil Ahmar

Muqbil Ahmar writes on culture and poetry. He is a writer and theater activist, who wants to bring about harmony and amicability in the present day society. Music, poetry and good food are his passions.

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Five Ways in which AAP is Disrupting India’s Political Scenario

From choice of candidates to choice of venue to outreach—everything is a disruption

Though the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) did not make much of a dent in recent Assembly elections 2017, it is a breath of fresh air in the way it has been able to bring itself into reckoning in the Indian Political scene.

The party has tried ingenious and novel ways to woo the voters and its outreach has been phenomenal. For such a young party to be able to generate the kind of support that it has and to become a part of political discourse is incredible.

In fact, it has forced its competitors to think out of the box. The AAP has changed the election process irretrievably. It has inspired others to follow suit when politics has always been considered a game for the high and mighty. The party is disrupting the election process like no other in the history of India. Here is why:

(1) While mainstream political parties give tickets to the most rich or the most powerful person in a locality, AAP does just the opposite. It selects the underdog—the candidate can literally be anybody—from a small time agent to an rickshawwallah. Sample this: a standup comedian was a prospective chief minister of Punjab—Bhagwant Mann. Just look at the profile of the candidates and you can see the counter current. The candidates can actually be completely out of the blue. AAP gave tickets to some popular faces in Punjab, including activists, doctors, lawyers: Mohan Singh Phallnawala, HS Phoolka, etc. These people are not hardcore politicians. They are common people.

(2) The disruption doesn’t end here. Most political parties field their weak candidates against the strong ones from other parties. But lo and behold, this audacious party fields its strongest candidate against the strongest from the other side, even when it seems like a David and Goliath contest initially. The party does this deliberately to gain political mileage and media publicity. So, even if it loses the seat, it has already created deep inroads into the opposition and hogged all the limelight.

For example, Bhagwant Mann contested Punjab Assembly elections from Jalalabad against arch rival and a very formidable Sukhbir Singh Badal. The stand-up comedian deliberately attacked the Badal family as a well-though out political strategy. It’s a classic case of someone hitting much above its weight. Naturally, Sukhbir considered engage Bhagwant Mann downmarket and didn’t respond, on the other hand the wily comedian ran amok. To rub salt into the wounds, Mann’s repartees were a hit with the crowds and drew thousands of people for rallies and meetings.

(3) AAP is a typical rags to riches story. Everyone knows that it cannot match the financial muscle of other bigger parties like BJP and Congress—not even in a million years. The party hardly has any financial resources. According to a recent report while BJP had 60% share of the advertising spend, AAP is non-existent at .1%. One can in fact notice this just by looking at the papers every morning till some days back. They were full of BJP ads that even the Congress finds it difficult to match. However, the AAP more than makes up for its lack of finances by direct door-to-door campaigning. It has other tricks up its sleeve as well which it uses to great advantage.

(4) While other parties book stadiums or huge parks, AAP organizes meetings, street plays, etc. in chowrahas, nukkads, community parks, mining areas, which don’t require any financial input. Their campaigners go inside homes and meet and target women, something that is impossible to do even in a mega rally where most are paid participants. AAP’s Mahila Morcha is particularly active in this regard. It talks to women and convinces them.

(5) AAP’s electioneering is a low- cost and time-intensive model. It is for this reason that the party stands a handsome chance when the polls are held as per schedule. It will always need to generate the momentum ground up. While major political parties start campaigning three months before the polls dates, AAP starts campaigning very early. In Punjab, the party was in action since about a year.

On the other hand, Goa elections threw water over AAP’s plans and they were held simultaneously with Punjab. The party was unable to use resources for both the states that it was fancying and decided to concentrate on Punjab as the polling days were clubbed. Perhaps, it was a deliberate attempt to make AAP stretch its resources. Though AAP did not perform as expected, it is a force to reckon with and all the other parties know that. Let’s see how much of a disruption AAP causes in the General Elections of 2019.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

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