Winning the trust and votes of people after the Aam Aadmi Party experience in Delhi will be a major test for Swaraj India, a new political party floated by ousted Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan. The party launched as a vehicle for alternative politics instead of “AAP’s cult politics” bears roots to the 2011 India Against Corruption movement, much like the AAP. After Yadav and Bhushan led a non-political front Swaraj Abhiyan during recent years, this will be their first time leading a political party into electoral fray.
Swaraj India boasts of high morals and promises to function according to set ideals. Similar promises were made when AAP was formed, but over the last four years the party seems to have lost public confidence. Recently, their play has, to be frank, been exploiting strong anti-incumbency sentiments rather than creating a following solely out of political ethos. Yadav and Bhushan will have to win and sustain the trust of voters with their alternative politics over a long period of time if it aims to make any ground in the country’s politics.
The duo were founder members of AAP and were ousted after they raised questions about the party’s internal democracy (or lack of) and supremo culture led by AAP chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Yadav, a social scientist by trade and training, and Bhushan, a senior advocate, were instrumental in setting up Arvind Kejriwal’s political front and were thrown out after a bitter spat with Kejriwal.
The party launched on Gandhi Jayanti aimed at portraying a strong symbolism about its claimed guiding principles-honesty, transparency and freedom to hold opinions differing from the party view. In a first, the party also said that it will bring itself under the ambit of the Right to Information Act.
Swaraj India announced that it will start with contesting the next municipal elections in Delhi and will pass the Punjab elections as they have neither the preparation nor the ground presence or party workers to create any tectonic movement in the electoral space. If the party performs well in the municipal elections and delivers on its promises, it might actually prove to be a better launch for the party as compared to AAP that got off on an overzealous Lok Sabha campaign after shunning power only 49 days after they were elected to power in the Delhi Assembly.
The road ahead is long for Swaraj India and the party says it is not in a hurry to make its mark on the political spectrum. The party will need patience to build its standing and also to earn the respect of the voters to actually become a formidable opponent to the AAP and other parties.