Fund-raiser initiative: AAP
Recently, Delhi Chief Minister and National Convenor of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Arvind Kejriwal announced that his party has become bankrupt and it needs financial assistance from the ordinary party workers and the people in general. In a programme organised exclusively to announce the fundraising initiative in New Delhi, Kejriwal said that his government has enough funds but the party does not have adequate resources to contest the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in 2019 and Assembly elections in Delhi in 2020. He said that in order to provide an honest government, the party has to collect funds from the common people and not from industrialists and corporate houses who want their interests to be served by the government in lieu of their support. The AAP government in Delhi has spent Rs 2 lakh crore in last four years through the four annual budgets it presented during the period and if it had it taken a cut of even one per cent, the party would have been richer by Rs 2,000 crore, Kejriwal informed the audience assembled at Talkatora Stadium in the national capital. But AAP government chose to remain honest and work for the people of Delhi who gave the party a historical mandate by sending 67 of its candidates to the Assembly of 70 members in the 2015 election, he elaborated. The event marked the beginning of AAP's innovative fundraising exercise in which it has asked the party workers to donate Rs 100 every month to the party fund.
Last time when AAP contested the Assembly elections in Delhi, the party was flush with funds, a matter of great surprise and conjecture for a newly-formed party. Though AAP maintained that all the money it received to the party fund was bonafide and the details of all individual donations were put up in the public domain, especially on the party's website. However, some transactions remained disputed as to whether they were dubious and hawala money as was being alleged. Kejriwal who had a career in income tax and revenue departments understands the laws about these matters better than most politicians in the country and few people doubted his ability to deal with the allegations with confidence and come out of it unscathed. But that was about five years ago when Kejriwal had just emerged as the latest sensation on the national scene promising to root out corruption from the corridors of power and advocating a more people-oriented government in the country. Kejriwal's full potential was still to be discovered. In the last four years as the Chief Minister of Delhi, Kejriwal has displayed that his election promises were not just rhetoric; he meant what he said. The way he went on to implement highly ambitious reforms in the education and healthcare departments and the imagination and innovation that he displayed in conceiving the doorstep delivery of services requires a fresh and impartial look at the promise and wonder that the Kejriwal dispensation is. But in competitive politics, there is no tradition of recognising and appreciating the rivals' merits and strengths. On the contrary, the day-to-day politics is run on vendetta and mud-slinging and all the great leaders have to undergo this. Kejriwal is no exception but what puts him in the league of great leaders is his tenacity and courage to continue in adverse circumstances. If implemented as it has been promised, the latest fundraising initiative will make the account books of AAP cleaner and take the party closer to the people ahead of the crucial elections. This is another example of imagination being put to good use by the AAP leadership. But what is important is to understand that Kejriwal may have a winning personality but does that make AAP any different from other parties? Many of AAP MLAs rue in private the fact that there are not enough avenues to make money while some have gone to the extent to allege that the CM himself has accepted unaccounted money from different sources to run the party. Many of the founding and prominent members have deserted the party in the last five years on different grounds, making it impossible for the party to make a foray in other states. In Punjab Assembly where AAP is the main opposition party, there is a serious leadership crisis and the party has failed to take the gains that it received in the state to the next level by playing the role of an opposition party seriously. AAP's Punjab unit has been in the news more for the infighting and its clash with the Kejriwal-Sisodia leadership than for raising the issues and problems of the common people. Despite being the main opposition party, AAP's reaction to the recent Amritsar tragedy in which 61 people were run over by two trains while watching the Dusshera festivity has not come to anyone's notice. Are the AAP leaders working for the people or for themselves only? Kejriwal must explain this while seeking donations from the people to run the party.