Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Will the south ever see an angry, young 'common man' party?

While the common man who fights corruption against all odds seems to have finally come of age in Delhi in the form of Arvind Kejriwal, his southern sibling, if there is one, seems nowhere in sight in the grubby puddle of Tamil Nadu politics.

The party that originated as a movement against corruption has now transformed into an organisation promising clean, people-oriented politics.But, will it make an impact down south?
“Of course, it will,” say members of the Aam Aadmi Party here. The TN wing of the party presently has around 10,000 members and more are waiting to register with it.

“We certainly believe in making a strong presence here,” says Suresh, a key member of the AAP here. “Our first priority is to form committees in all districts and then work towards building a strong base. We are currently present only in 11 districts,” he says.

“The public here will accept it too,” says Vijayashankar, a city-based chartered acccountant and a member of India against Corruption. “Until now, the common perception among the political class was that those who protest and hold candles in public places do not come out and vote and that their concerns do not matter. The Aam Admi Party has now changed that forever in Delhi,” he says. “Arvind Kejriwal has proved that the common man cannot be taken for a ride forever.”

A few years ago, a similar group of young educated citizens came together down south and formed the Lok Satta party (Makkal Sakthi) with a similar agenda. While they claim to have managed to build their base and brought in reforms through RTI campaigns, their political position is minuscule by any yardstick.
“We, too, believe in similar ideas and the party was formed to bring educated youth to politics and bring about participatory democracy,” says D. Jagadheeswaran, state president of the Lok Satta. “But, we have not been able to publicise our work adequately,” he says. 

The Lok Satta chief feels that Arvind Kejriwal’s aggressive stand won him the following. “Some time ago, almost every other week, Arvind had exposed corruption after corruption in the national media. His bold approach and his poll campaign strategies have paid off. There is a lot to learn from him,” Jagadheeswaran says.

But is there a similar surge of the angry young man possible down south? “Only when we can win the trust of the common man,” says the Lok Satta leader.

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