Monday, January 13, 2014

Boost to Arvind Kejriwal? Top civil rights group NAPM, led by Medha Parkar, announces support to AAP

By Our Representative
In a major boost to the Aam Admi Party (AAP), the National Alliance for People's Movements (NAPM), which is the apex body of tens of civil rights organizations of India, has decided to extend support to AAP. In a statement issued in Mumbai, NAPM, which is led by top social activist Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NAPM), said, “A number of attempts by small and large parties and fora to create an alternative to the mainstream politics, creating space for those at margins by the power holders, have played a role in the past. Once again and with a difference, the concern of the masses has led to the formation of AAP, reflecting a need for changing the political cultures and system.”
While still not merging into AAP, about which NAPM would take a final call on January 16-17, the powerful civil rights group said, “The mainstream parties in power have just not been insensitive to people's demand but have also been insulting the people's power, role and violating rights. Corruption – as misuse and misappropriation of monetary and natural resources – is hitting not only the micro level livelihoods and downtrodden but the macro economy of the nation. Politicians are engaged in loot and don't care for the large majority of common people. They resort to caste-religion and other bases to gain vote bank and distribute notes, freebies, liquor to regain and retain political power.”
Among the major issues NAPM found in common with AAP are:
· Decentralisation of power and governance to grant primacy to people and the lowest smallest unit of democracy – gram and bastis.
· Rooting out corruption from bottom to top though not only legal but social political processes.
· Due place and scope for alternative economic and technological solutions rooted in the land of India and Bharat.
· Rising above caste, religion, gender based divisions and discriminations while retaining positive discriminatory measures such as reservations.
· Resolutions of conflicts between the state and people, may those be farmers, dalits, adivasis or urban poor; through due democratic processes and on the basis of the constitutional values and principles.
· Solutions to inequality, injustice, corruption and water, energy crises.
· Working for an alternative political culture for the political class.
Praising “AAP leader Arvind Kejariwal and the team of youngsters, with Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, Prof Anand Kumar, Prof Ajit Jha and other experienced intellectual activists” for taking lead and making dent into the electoral politics”, NAPM said, “Their achievements through innovative strategies, principles of transparency and accountability in realm of governance have raised hope for everyone today.” It added, “We consider the attempt of AAP as a movement and appreciate the endeavour to fill in the political vacuum.”
NAPM, interestingly, did not name Kumar Vishwas, who has declared himself as AAP candidate from Amethi against Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Observers also say, AAP, which is seeking to make a dent in Gujarat, may be wary of NAPM, whose leader Medha Patkar till very recently was considered -- unofficially of course -- as "anti-Gujarat" for her opposition to the Narmada dam. NAPM, it is said, would want AAP to clarify what is the latter's stand on the Narmada dam, which Gujarat leaders across political spectrum, have considered a panacea for the state's water woes.
NAPM pointed out that the decision to support AAP was taken through “dialogue to deliberations within movements in states taking note of diverse opinions with a common ground.” Among those who were part of the “dialogue” were Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan (Maharashtra), Jan Sangharsh Vahini (Delhi), lok Shakti Abhiyan (Orissa), Kosi Baadh Prabhavit Sangharsh Samiti and Jan Jaagran Shakti Sangathan (Bihar), and Unorganised Sector Workers Federation (South India).
At the same time, it stressed, “We are yet to discuss some aspects – ideological to strategical – with AAP leadership and ensure a mechanism to establish a relation of the party with the people's movements. Many of us are part of National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), a non-party political platform, which will continue to retain its independent identity and provide input to programmes and policies and also lead struggles on people's issues as done always.” Even then, it saw in AAP “a movement that will bring in complementarity and hence we confide in its leadership to evolve such process and spaces within for long term struggle to clean politics and bring in an alternative politics and political culture”.

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