The fledgling party likes to avoid labels, but most of its policy pronouncements till date are left-leaning. However, it is not as puritanical as India's traditional left which has allowed the party to reach out to a larger social segment
In his attempt to remain an angry impatient man working to change an evil system, at least in the public perception, the most powerful aam aadmi of our era has called himself an “anarchist”. That has opened a Pandora’s Box, prompting even President Pranab Mukherjee to warn against such tactics in his Republic Day eve speech.
Now, whether Mr Arvind Kejriwal may actually be described as an ‘anarchist’ in the true, academic sense of the term, is open to debate. However, it is clear that his subversive form of politics is derived primarily from a leftist programme or agenda that he and his Aam Aadmi Party quietly follow.
The AAP phenomenon marks an important development in the Indian polity: It represents the rise of a new left. Although the party has time and again refused to subscribe to any particular ideology, its manifesto, policies and actions coupled with the utterances of its prominent leaders leave none in doubt that its ideological leaning is towards the left.
What makes the AAP different from the traditional left is its flexibility. It does not follow a dogmatic approach and exhibits of a ‘soft’ form of nationalism. And this has given the party huge dividends and helped it expand its base within a short span of time. The AAP has gained from its sheltered ideology and by being pragmatic. This has allowed the party to enlist the support of all sections of society.
We can also call this new form of leftism as the post-ideological Indian left, the context for which is provided by global recession, its impact on India and corruption. For the new left, the aam aadmi is the new proletariat, exploited by the capitalist industry in connivance with a corrupt Government and established political class. Here, the AAP is the vanguard of the new proletariat.
Interestingly, while attacking established political parties and the political class, the AAP has never targeted or criticised the left parties. Rather, senior AAP leader like Mr Prashant Bhushan met and sought the support of veteran Marxist leader and former Kerala Chief Minister VS Achuthanandan.
One strategy of the AAP is to keep moving towards implementing its socialistic or leftist programmes without getting concerned about the ideological purity of the means employed to realise such programmes and objectives. This kind of approach sets the AAP apart from the traditional left parties of India which put tremendous importance on ideological purity.
As the newest avatar of the wider left family, the AAP is by far the strongest entrant into India’s mainstream electoral landscape and popular imagination. Be it Mr Bhushan’s demand for a referendum in Kashmir or in the Maoist violence-hit areas on the question of deployment of security forces or inviting Maoists to join the AAP, the party’s stance against FDI in retail, its support for people’s movements controlled and led by leftist forces against nuclear power plants, the party’s street actions disregarding all due processes or rule of law, or the extension of ‘complete and vigorous support’ to the AAP for the coming lok Sabha poll by none other than Medha Patkar and her National Alliance for People's Movements — all these prove it beyond doubt that the AAP has strong tilt towards the left.
Ms Patkar has also given enough hints that she may even contest the forthcoming lok Sabha election on an AAP ticket. She also claims that most of the NAPM’s micro and macro-economic viewpoints are reflected in the AAP’s official documents.
Though many prominent people from the field of industry and business have also joined the party in recent days, the interesting thing to note is that the core of the party remains strictly left-oriented.