International

What Indian ‘Common Man’s Party’ Victory Means for UK Supporters

aam aadmi party UK

Team Aam Aadmi Party UK Supporters’ Group. Image: Aam Aadmi Party UK

The Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man’s Party in English, won an unexpected landslide in Delhi today.

Arvind Kejriwal, the party’s founder, is the new Chief Minister of Delhi.

The Delhi assembly is now firmly in the hands of the AAP.

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The party’s anti-corruption message has garnered grassroots support not only in India, but also in the UK.

London-based Raj Redij-Gill, who organises the AAP’s UK chapter, described Kejriwal’s victory as a ‘flame of hope that’s burning right now,’ for the country’s Indian diaspora.

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Arvind Kejriwal wears a hat with the Hindi declaration ‘Mujhe Chahiiyay Poori Aazaadi.” English translation: “I need total freedom”. Image: Wikimedia Commons

The AAP’s triumph in India’s Capitol is a rare case of the little guy defeating established political giants.

The Delhi chief ministership was expected to go to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP.)

Last summer, the BJP gained significant political momentum when the former Chief Minister of Gujarat, Narendra Modi, was elected Prime Minister of India.

Many were disturbed by Modi’s election, as he had been accused of standing by while thousands of Gujarati Muslims were massacred by Hindu Nationalists in 2002.

Although this year’s pre-election polls predicted that the AAP would win 18 seats in Delhi’s 70-seat assembly, and the BJP 46, in reality this prediction has been dramatically reversed.

The AAP has won 67 seats and the BJP only 3.

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While India’s two largest political parties, the BJP and Congress, receive support from India’s financial and political heavyweights, the AAP does not have these kinds of resources.

It is fuelled by highly active popular grassroots movements.

Redij-Gill refers to the AAP as a ‘start up political party.’

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From London, he has worked for the past few years to drum up support for the movement in the UK.

He started out by establishing the UK’s chapter of the organisation Indians Against Corruption.

When the AAP formed in India in 2012, he threw his organisation’s support behind them.

Redij-Gill says that AAP supporters in the UK are eager to see corruption and inequality end in their home country.

In his mind, India is still a very unequal society.

He says:

India is a rich country. There has been a lot of development in recent years. But it hasn’t filtered to every section of society.

The UK diaspora is able to spread the AAP’s message, and Redij-Gill says can offer ‘not just resources but also moral support.’

Sometimes volunteers for the AAP’s UK contingent are able to use their professional experience to help the party.

He offers as an example the assertion that ‘In India, women’s safety is a big issue.’

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He says that the system for women who have experiences assault here, though imperfect, is ‘more sensitive and more comprehensive.’

AAP supporters who have worked to keep women safe in the UK can also offer advice on how to do this in India.

India’s economic and political future will have international ramifications, not only for India’s large diaspora population but for people of all backgrounds.

With a new and prominent platform in Delhi, we have yet to see how far the Aam Aadmi Party’s message will spread.

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