Kal, Aaj aur Kal — the unstoppable change in India’s politics #C2B2A

Indian voters find themselves faced with a 3-way choice — yesterday, today or tomorrow.

The Congress, BJP and AAP represent yesterday, today and tomorrow.

First it was the Congress (Yesterday)

Right from independence, the Congress dominated Indian politics almost as a monopoly. But with failing leadership in the late 80s and the 90s, India saw a significant change of political guard from the incumbent Congress Party to the BJP. The one-party domination of Indian politics gave way to a more cartel-like structure. This national-level change took more than a decade but ultimately represented little more than a change of people and parties in power, while the underlying systemic problems continued. As numerous events have shown, both national parties are alike in ownership, character, ground-level activities and outcomes, despite the differing ideologies they claim to follow. But as superficial as that change may have been, India’s public has accepted the inevitability of the change of guard, and the Congress today represents a spent force with a glorious past, a sad present and possibly a non-existent future.

Now it is the BJP (Today)

Roughly a generation has passed now since the early 90s when the BJP first started to grow. Improved technology and communications have meant that political corruption/scams are no longer easily hidden, and information travels faster. A whole new generation of Indians has now realized the failure of the previous big change, and recognizes the political cartel as part of the problem and not the solution. As a result, India today stands at the cusp of another big political change — but this time, instead of a mere change of people and parties in power, Indians are looking for genuine systemic change.

Finally, it will be AAP (Tomorrow)

The political cartel that constantly undermines the citizen is under threat from a new force — the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Here’s why the AAP is destined to be India’s tomorrow.

1. Eliminating corruption through a new system, not just a new personality

The AAP is bigger than just one leader. Leaders may come and go, but institutions continue. The AAP aims to reduce corruption by strengthening our institutions and their processes, and not merely by being honest. By creating a Lokpal, instituting a whistleblower protection act, and plugging leakage points in the system by making them transparent and accountable, AAP seeks to create systemic reform that outlasts specific parties. Other parties claim to be against corruption by just saying “we’re honest”.

2. Decentralized, Citizen-centric politics (Swaraj)

The AAP wants to create decentralized, representative democracy through grassroots empowerment. Power is not concentrated in the hands of any leader or group. Citizens communicate their problems and the priority order, which has to be acted upon by their representatives. These actions have to be transparently reported back to the citizens in a measurable, time-bound manner. This local, transparent governance (Mohalla sabhas) is fresh and promising. It has led to high-quality capacity-building in prioritized sectors like Mohalla Clinics, AAP govt schools, and “Smree” (smart & free) water and power. Meanwhile, conventional parties continue to ask for more power for their own central leaders to make “good decisions” as defined by themselves.

3. Transparent, crowd-sourced party funding

The AAP publishes regular, transparent financial statements and raises funds almost solely from the public at large, with no dependence on oligarchs or large corporations. Existing parties raise massive funds from illegal, undeclared activities and from cronies and oligarchs, including foreign ones.

4. Government defined as a service provider, not a ruler

The AAP defines governance as providing efficient public services to ALL citizens (education, health, water, electricity), and not as ruling supreme over citizens’ lives like a monarch. Meanwhile, other parties continue to put forward the old definition of governance — a ruler who “is India”, and decides what’s right and what’s wrong for his subjects.

5. Professionalization of politics; educated and skilled politicians

AAP is a young, modern party encouraging skilled professionals from various fields to enter the political system rather than shy away from it. For e.g. AAP is practically the only party supporting significant salary hikes for ministers. The AAP wants to change people’s perception that politics is a bad word. Meanwhile, other parties continue to give tickets to crooks and proven criminals.

6. Lean government, rationalized tax structure

The AAP has proved that reducing unnecessary taxes not only improves tax compliance, but also reduces the idle cash in the government’s reserves that makes corruption profitable. By raising only as much money as is required for its needs, the AAP has championed the real meaning of lean government. Meanwhile, other parties continue to sloganeer “Minimum government, maximum governance” while creating newer taxes, raising existing ones, and spreading false propaganda like “One Nation, One Tax”.

#C2B2A: Congress to BJP to AAP

Change is inevitable, and societies that accept change and position themselves to better manage change tend to be happier, more efficient and more prosperous.

Is the AAP ahead of its time? Will citizens understand its objectives immediately? Will it navigate perilous political waters and win the next elections? Many believe that the movement will certainly take time to grow, and election victories will not come easily. That’s why it is our tomorrow and not our today. But its victory is certain.

And much like yesterday (Congress) gave way to today (BJP), today will give way to tomorrow — the Congress is our past, the BJP our present and the AAP our inevitable future. That is the nature of change. It is unstoppable, inevitable and we must prepare for it and be on the right side of it.

So the next time you vote, just remember — the ballot paper represents a 3-way choice — yesterday, today, tomorrow. #C2B2A