Social activist Medha Patkar on Monday announced “complete support” to the Aam Aadmi Party which is set to make its debut in the Lok Sabha elections.
The National Alliance of People’s Movement (NAPM) whic is led by Patkar and spearheads grassroots-level movements in several states, will lend its “active support” to the AAP.
While she remained non-committal about her own candidature in the LS polls, Patkar said ideological and strategical issues would be thrashed out at a national-level meeting with AAP representatives on January 16 and 17, following which details on campaigning and candidates would be decided.
The NAPM is an umbrella group of social movements that include Narmada Bachao Andolan in Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan in Maharashtra, Jan Sangharsh Vahini in Delhi, Unorganised Sector Workers’ Federation in south India and Lok Shakti Abhiyan in Orissa among others.
“Even though we have been involved in people’s movements, we never considered electoral politics to be untouchable and hence need to take our movement ahead through parliamentary politics. We don’t believe that the state should wither away. From micro to macro to economic issues, we found that we agree with most of AAP’s policies,” Patkar said.
She added that her organisation found a common ground with the AAP on decentralisation of power, policy-making independent of divisive politics of caste, religion or gender and on issues concerning Dalits, Adivasis, farmers, urban poor and middle classes.
She said activist Alok Agarwal from Narmada Bachao Andolan had filed his application for candidature. “The NAPM will continue to retain its independent identity and persist in its earlier struggles,” she said.
Meanwhile, Jawaharlal Nehru University Professor Kamal Mitra Chenoy, who has been a member of the CPI for the last 24 years, also joined AAP. Asked whether Left had rendered itself irrelevant, Chenoy, a former member of the CPI central committee, said: “All I know is that we used to have 50 seats, now we are down to 24. Either we say that people are stupid or we accept that we are behind the times.” He said the AAP has the right mix for any political party and it promises policy making with the will of the people.
The AAP press conference in Delhi, where Prasant Bhushan announced the NBA’s support and Chenoy’s decision to join, was disrupted by activists of the Hindu Sena.
They had earlier ransacked the AAP office in Ghaziabad protesting against Bhushan’s comments about seeking the opinion of people of Kashmir for deployment of Army. The activists shouted slogans against Bhushan and dared Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal to answer their questions.
Former Apple executive and Dwarka MLA Adarsh Shastri has also been included in the spokespersons’ list.