Sunday, Nov 23, 2014

AAP becomes magnet for big names: Political opportunism or love for nation?

Ashutosh, who till last week was the Managing Editor of IBN7, joined the Aam Aadmi Party pausing his 23-year-old journalistic career. Ashutosh, who till last week was the Managing Editor of IBN7, joined the Aam Aadmi Party pausing his 23-year-old journalistic career.
Written by Shivani Vig | New Delhi | Posted: January 14, 2014 12:28 pm | Updated: January 14, 2014 5:56 pm

All roads, it seems, now lead to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) office. Upbeat over its astounding debut in the Delhi Assembly elections, Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP is gearing up for its next target, the Lok Sabha elections.

Despite the lack of an organisational base, AAP has been able to lay the foundation for a new political force. After some political heavyweights, AAP now seems to be charming corporate honchos, activists and other big names to enter active politics.

From Captain G R Gopinath to former Infosys director V Balakrishnan; from former Star TV CEO Sameer Nair to TV journalist Ashutosh; from danseuse and actor Mallika Sarabhai to senior Supreme Court lawyer H S Phoolka, there is a long line of people waiting to jump on the AAP bandwagon before the General Elections.

Ashutosh, who till last week was the Managing Editor of IBN7, joined the Aam Aadmi Party pausing his 23-year-old journalistic career. Former NSUI member Alka Lamba, who was sidelined during the Delhi elections, decided to break her decade-long association with the Congress to be part of AAP. Meera Sanyal, the former chairperson and CEO of Royal Bank of Scotland here, also stepped down to join the AAP, which seems like a better option to fighting the elections independently, something which she did unsuccessfully last time. While social activist Medha Patkar on Monday announced that she will give complete support to AAP, the others considering the AAP option include former CBI joint director and high-profile IPS officer V V Lakshmi Narayana and SP leader Kamal Farooqui. It is learnt that pop start Remo Fernandes is also looking at a political debut through the new platform.

But will all this talent bring electoral success to AAP? “Without any doubts,” says Geeta Gurnani, working with a top MNC and  who has become a supporter of AAP in recent days. “Since AAP now has the corporate names in its kitty, it will have a better connect to the middle class. Also, it brings a hope with it that more people are taking up the responsibility for doing something for the nation through clean politics,” she adds.

Quoting a line from Aam Aadmi Party’s manifesto which says “one person’s determination can change the destiny of a nation,” Gurnani says: “Arvind and his team have proven this in the Assembly elections. And we are confident that their message will spread in other states too.”

However, AAP member Deepak Bajpai sees the new phenomenon of political bigwigs, bureaucrats and professionals making moves to AAP as an indicator that the common man is considering electoral politics as an option to bring in change. “We are upbeat that known names are showing confidence in the Aam Aadmi Party. At a larger level, we can see as the common man getting connected with what is known as the common man’s party,” says Bajpai who gave up a 18-year-long media career to enter public life.

“Over 5 lakh people have joined the party across the nation in the first three days of the membership campaign,” adds Bajpai. “AAP’s revolution is nothing less than a second freedom struggle. The party has embarked on an unprecedented mission and people are willingly becoming part of the movement.”

Pranjal Nigam, a project manager in an IT firm in Gujarat, echoes similar views. “This is a good sign for the party. AAP has a good future. What had started as an anti-corruption movement has now transformed into a revolution of sorts. It signifies that people are considering AAP as a serious political alternative now,” he adds. “Corporate honchos like V Balakrishnan and Sanyal have set an example for others to serve the nation,” says Nigam.

But he is quick to add that the uncertainty over the credibility of AAP still prevails. “Kejriwal and his intentions might be honest, but it is yet to be seen whether those joining now are seeing this as opportunity to get to power.”

But there are those like Amit Shukla who see this as a temporary phenomenon. “Those joining AAP might not be corrupt, but it is too early to say if they would be able to prove themselves as good administrators, that is the key,” explains the 42-year-old political observer.

The common man’s party might have capitalised on the anti-corruption sentiment to earn the respect and votes of the common man in Delhi. But, will it be able to recreate its success on a national stage with its new bigwigs? For the answer to this question, we will all have to wait for a few more months.

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