As we are Part of BRICS, it would be good to learn some of the functions of democracy in these countries. Whilst the democracies of Russia and China are very different to ours, we can compare to those of India and Brazil.
In December 2011, a 75 year old Indian, Anna Hazare, believed that the levels of corruption and nepotism in India were at unacceptable levels, and that the freedom fighters of India such as Gandhi and Sardar Valabhai Patel and others would not like to have seen India in its current state.
He decided to go on an indefinite hunger strike, until the government passed a law for the Ombudsman to deal with corruption. The government’s first response was to arrest and place him in the Tihar jail in Delhi. He continued fasting in jail. The government of the day was forced to release him. Millions of people from across India supported him. The government suggested that he could make a difference if he joined politics. His response was simple, “I am not a politician and don’t want to belong to any political party. I belong to India”
His supporters were professionals, labourers as well as civil servants. The government of India led by The Indian National Congress (INC) as well as the official opposition The Bharitiya Janata Party (BJP) were forced to extend parliament to start the proceedings for the law. Anna Hazare then stopped his hunger strike and returned to his village, Ralegaon Siddhi in the State of Maharashtra.
Early in 2013, some of the supporters of Anna’s movement decided to form a political party to fight the Delhi State elections. These professionals are all graduates (Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers, as well as Civil Servants). They named the party The Aam Aadmi Party, which translated from Hindi, means The Common Man Party. The emblem of the party is the famous Indian broom, which they want to use to sweep India clean from corruption and nepotism. The party manifesto has 18 points, the first being to serve the people and not themselves.
Both the INC as well as the BJP ridiculed and wrote this party off. The AAP did not accept any funding from multinationals or corporates. All its funding came from individuals in India, Non Resident Indians as well as People of Indian Origin. On receipt of donations, tax certificates were immediately issued to the donors. All the funding information is on the website of the party. This is something that both the INC as well as the BJP refused to do.
AAP do not talk of religion, cast or creed. People from all walks of life join them if they agreed with the manifesto of the party.
As they did not have the millions of Rupees to canvas, the push was for door to door electioneering. In India a typical election rally attracts +/- 800 000 people and costs millions of Rupees to host. In fact when Rahul Gandhi had the INC rally in Delhi, they had to ask people to please stay to listen to him. The people of Delhi were tired and decided to vote with their feet.
Off the 70 MLA seats in Delhi, before the elections INC had 46 and BJP 20, the balance by independents. After the elections, AAP has 28, the BJP 32 and INC 8, with 2 held by Independents. The AAP was able to wipe INC out in Delhi. At the same time of these elections 3 other states also had elections. In these states, in the absence of a viable alternative, the BJP won almost 80% of all votes and INC scrapped with 15%. The AAP will now go national.
As no party had the majority to form the government, a coalition was needed. The BJP indicated that it was content to sit in the opposition. Again, the AAP went to the people of Delhi asking if they should form a minority government. This was done via a referendum. The reply was yes. The INC has decided to support the AAP from the outside. The AAP has indicated that it will not form a coalition government with the corrupt. It is forming a single minority government, and if no party supports it, then it will fall and new elections be held. They have refused the government housing, government cars as well as the blue light convoys and credit cards. They will continue to stay in their own homes. The Chief Minister (Premier) will continue to stay in his middle class apartment with his family. They do not want to follow politics as usual. No decisions will be from “top down”. Instead they have divided Delhi into 1000 districts. Each district needs will be fulfilled as per its requirements. The swearing in ceremony will be at a field where the common man can also attend. No luxuries will be available.
The AAP is not a socialist party but wants responsive and responsible governance.
We will wait and see if they succeed.
We can undoubtedly see similarities between them and us. In South Africa, the ANC and DA will not let us know where the funding comes from. Agang, on inception told us about the wealth that the leader has. I am sure that like India we have people that would like to serve the country and not themselves. We have had successive failures by the ANC government. The ex-President Mbeki telling us that HIV does not cause AIDS and that beetroot and garlic was the cure, as well as the arms deal scandal. The current administration is telling us the R72 million was needed for one man’s security and that a swimming pool was needed to fight fire. Also, they tell us that R152 million was operating costs. This would mean that this figure will repeat annually. We are also bombarded with the race card if we do not agree the ruling party. The current administration enriches itself, whilst the opposition party placates big business.
Can the real leaders of today who think like Ex-President Mandela, Govin Mbeki, Joe Slovo and Ahmed Kathrada please stand up and lead.
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