A new political party is born. Swaraj India.
It has been almost four years since the birth of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on 26 November 2012 from the larger, pan-Indian – ‘India Against Corruption’ movement. However, not all anti-corruption movement crusaders followed Arvind Kejriwal into the AAP.
A big chunk of these ‘other crusaders’ has now joined hands with the AAP splinter group Swaraj Abhiyan’s new party Swaraj India that was launched in New Delhi on 2 October.
After contemplating for more than a year, Yogendra Yadav- and Prashant Bhushan-led Swaraj Abhiyan officially announced the new all-India political party, with the mission of ushering probity, transparency and accountability in electoral politics.
According to the party sources, while, Yadav will head Swaraj India party, Bhushan — also a member of the party — will continue working on public issues and campaigns as the national president of Swaraj Abhiyan (non-electoral campaign organisation).
“Swaraj Abhiyan will continue to run campaigns to ensure that governments and public institutions work according to the wishes of the people and take their decisions in public interest in the true spirit of Swaraj. Swaraj Abhiyan will continue to run its four key programs as well as others as required,” Bhushan said.
The launch of the party was announced at its founding convention in the national capital, where over 400 delegates from almost all the states pledged to struggle for the vision and mission of Swaraj India. The first signature on the list of founder members of the party was that of noted lawyer and ex-law minister Shanti Bhushan.
“We were never secretive about going political. A decision to launch a political party was taken with nearly 93 percent of the delegates at the convention overwhelmingly supporting it. Now in the next three days, we’ll submit an application and documents concerned with the Election Commission for getting ourselves registered,” Swaraj India leader Ajit Jha told Firstpost.
According to Swaraj India, the objective behind forming a new political party is “The founding values of our republic are under threat. Democracy, Diversity and Dialogue is under attack, ironically by the ones who are entrusted to safeguard these values. The very idea of India is under a challenge. Sadly, there is no political force that has the vision and the will to take on this challenge. Swaraj India takes up the challenge to fill up this vacuum.”
Swaraj Abhiyan and Swaraj India will soon have separate executive bodies as well as people for their respective executive posts.
Some of the 'striking features' claimed by Swaraj India include: It will voluntarily bring itself under RTI Act, the will have transparent and innovative candidate selection process based on participatory democracy, there will be no whip on legislators but ‘horse trading’ would be prevented. Furthermore, the party stated that it will 'ensure freedom of expression at all levels.'
Swaraj India released a document called ‘Swaraj Darshan’ — a party with a vision for 21st century India.
“This is a guiding light for us. We’ll go by the principles mentioned in this document on each and every issue,” said Anupam Singh, national executive member, Swaraj Abhiyan.
“Swaraj Abhiyan has been a movement in search of true alternative politics. Now as a political party, Swaraj India, unlike other parties, has decided to voluntarily come under the RTI act and has announced a Public Information Officer to that effect. At a time when political parties are afflicted by the malaise of personality cult and centralization of power, Swaraj India has decided that the party shall be governed by collective leadership through an organisational model of ‘Presidium’ as the highest decision-making body,” said Singh, who’s also a member of Swaraj India.
Support base of Swaraj India
Besides drawing its support base from Swaraj Abhiyan, the newly-formed party claimed that many of those who were a part of ‘India Against Corruption’ (IAC) movement, but didn’t join any political party, have joined them.
“There is a very big pool of people and activists who joined the IAC movement and didn’t join any political party, including AAP. Many of these idealistic people — especially youth who want to bring a change in electoral politics, have joined us. There are many waiting to join, which we realised during our public meetings and movements during a year,” Anupam Singh added.
While, the AAP is undeterred by the formation of Swaraj India, some of its grass root-level volunteers in Delhi have reportedly joined the new outfit.
“Some of the young volunteers working with us joined Swaraj Abhiyan, and now they will be a part of the new party as well, though the number is very less,” a senior AAP volunteer of south-east Delhi said on condition of anonymity.
However, the good news for Swaraj India is that a large chunk of volunteers belonging to another splinter group of AAP — Aam Aadmi Volunteers Action Manch (AAVAM) — have voluntarily joined Swaraj Abhiyan.
“Officially, we haven’t joined them collectively, but 50 percent of our volunteers have joined them and are working actively with them. Both of us share common ideology and principles. Swaraj Abhiyan announced its party today, and we’ve kept options open. We’re waiting for the right time,” said Karan Singh, convener, AAVAM — a group of over 800 volunteers that left AAP due to differences.
An AAP leader said, “It’s good that they have formed a party, but it won’t affect AAP, which has already proved itself and has been accepted in a big way by the Delhi voters. Even in Punjab and Goa, we’ve been receiving large support from people.”
Chronology: Formation of Swaraj India
March 2015: Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhushan, Ajit Jha, and Anand Kumar were ousted from AAP for “anti-party activities,” as these founding members and intellectual faces in AAP had posed uncomfortable questions to the AAP’s top leadership.
14 April, 2015: Yadav and Bhushan announced floating of a new group called Swaraj Abhiyan. It was called a ‘movement,’ rather than a political outfit.
May 2015: A 29-member national team of Swaraj Abhiyan was announced – Jai Kisan Abhiyan Swaraj Yatra – to kickstart its movement for farmers.
31 July, 2016: Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan announced that they would launch a new political party by 2 October to provide an ‘alternative political vehicle’, while hitting out at Aam Aadmi Party, saying it has a ‘supremo culture’.
2 October, 2016: 'Swaraj India’ was formed by Swaraj Abhiyan.