POWER TO THE PEOPLE – HOW WILL AAM AADMI PARTY DELIVER BY SHANTONU SEN

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The oft repeated mantra of the Aam Admi Party ( AAP ) Power to The People is not easy to achieve. It is derived from the concept of trusteeship .Gandhiji advocated trusteeship. Elected leaders voted into power and authority were expected to assume power as a trustee of those who elected them to power. The voters were the rightful owners of power and authority. Temporarily and on trust they parted with their power and vested it on an individual they voted in to hold an elected position. This elected person will, is expected to, use this power and authority in the interest of those who have voted him to power. This requires dedication and faith in the priciple of trusteeship.

The AAP mantra of Swaraj also speaks of power to the people. That is why Arvind Kejriwal often says that he is nothing. its the people who have placed him where he is. His fight in the elections is not for any ministerial position but to see to it that power always remains with the people. This appears a gimmick to other parties who have Prime Minister / Chief Minister aspirants from the day they start preparing for Parliamentary and state Assembly elections. It was the former Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit who famously remarked will the AAP consult the people before signing the files? While AAP and Arvind Kejriwal are quite clear in their vision of power to the people even in day to day administration and governance , they are, legitimately faulted by them for allowing ambiguity to creep in their explaining of this vision. Other parties call it stunt, gimmickry and drama. They brush aside the possibility of participatory governance because this requires a vision, balance, knowledge of rules which the people who cast votes simply cannot have, they believe. They also suggest that governance also means economic development, foreign policy , defence strategies, international relationship and managing the rupee inflation etc. How can people participate in matters of this importance ? They pour scornand ridicule the AAP .

This powerful armoury in the manifesto of AAP i.e. Power to the people needs to be told in simple words and repeatedly from time to time. How will this work in actual practice. Will power to the people mean all files will await their approval? A ridiculus question , I agree but it has been asked. As there are questions there are answers but while these questions have been asked have these questions been answered to the satisfaction of all who ask?

Mohalla Sabhas will be set up and these Sabhas will perform those crucial roles that that relate to the primary needs of the residents of the Mohlla. The power will vest in the, what for absence of any designation may be called , Mohalla Sabha Management Authority . Primary needs should include education, health, sanitation, electricity. roads, traffic, vendors and their placement, crime , also, possibly, market working hours and their weekly off. This prospect is attractive. It can work too. There has to be an element of both sacrifice of the personal convenience for the sake of the common good in the mohalla and there has to be a resolve among those who are at present looking after these interests to accept the authority of the Mohalla Sabha. These two elements, the existing Authority and the Mohalla Sabha Management Authority, cannot coalesce or even evolve unless there is a steel frame coaxing pushing and when necessary compelling by inducement and punishment to keep the two elements together working for the common good.

A good start never means it continues to be good. The human element in the system is almost always the first to act the spoiler.To prevent this the people who will act/ participate as nuts and bolts will require to be replaced before they fall in” love” with their positions and start dipping into the honey that is in the hands of the the nuts and boltsi.e. the Management of the mohalla sabha. This exercise will not be easy. We have seen how the RWA Management turns into a mafia. This has happened to similar institutions, the BCCI, other Sports Associations , the IOC and even Sahitya Akademis if one goes by what Khushwant Singh has said. Power to the people is desirable and attractive and to keep it so AAP think tank must find several plugs, each one, to stop it from multiple bleeding. . To not to allow the mafia and vested interests to target them, control them . misuse them and give the concept power to the people the loser tag will be difficult. Swarag to Arajkta is but one step.Is the concept worth striving? It is not easy.

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