I read the AAP Lok Sabha Manifesto today, and was rather disappointed with it. I think it is only fair that I mention my bias before I get to my opinion on the AAP Manifesto.
I started out as a supporter of AAP, and considered them the best bad option we had, but I have now changed my position, and do not believe that they present a viable alternative to the other political parties because of their performance in Delhi.
That being said, here are my thoughts specifically on the “Economy and Ecology” section of the AAP Manifesto.
AAP has listed down the following goals under their Economy and Ecology section.
- Facilitating Robust Economic Growth with Holistic Well Being
- Creating Decent Jobs and Gainful Employment for our Youth
- Simplify Rules, Create Accountable Institutions, Curb Black Money
- Promoting Honest Business, Unleashing India’s Entrepreneurial Energy
- Empowering Citizens, Particularly Poor and Vulnerable
- Reinvigorating the Rural Economy
- Improving Farmers’ Livelihoods
- Environment and Natural Resources Policy
- No Contractualization of Jobs
- Social Security for the Unorganized Sector
- Protecting the Common Man from Rising Prices
I think most people would agree that these are all worthy goals, except perhaps the contract labor ones, but the goals themselves are not the problem, the problem is how these goals will be achieved, and there AAP has not presented any concrete ideas on what they will do to achieve any of their goals.
For example, here are the measures they have suggested to fight rising prices.
- Fight corruption and crony capitalism.
- Arrest black marketers, raid their godowns and release food grains in the open market.
- Bring a law to regulate the fee charged by schools.
- Increase the number of government hospitals and substantially improve the quality of services.
- End corruption in the public distribution system with the involvement of gram sabhas.
- Instead of direct cash transfer, transfer materials to families.
- Include dal and oil in ration materials.
It seems to me that AAP’s answer to every question is reduce corruption, and everything else will fall into place, but their short rule over Delhi didn’t inspire confidence this is in fact the case.
When I supported AAP earlier, I didn’t agree with several of their policies, but I did believe that reducing corruption would outweigh everything else. However, their short stay in Delhi convinced me otherwise. A case in point were their policies on water supply in Delhi.
They had listed out a number of items to deal with the water supply issues in Delhi like tackling the tanker mafia, restructuring Delhi Jal Board, installing bulk meters, and giving out 700 liters of free water etc.
In the end however, they only handed out the free water, and did nothing else. Granted, they didn’t have enough time to implement anything else, but at least in my mind it would have been better if they hadn’t implemented the populist and economically unsound idea of handing out free water as well.
And more importantly, if they come to power in center, or become part of the coalition, they will have to deal with a number of partners much like they did in Delhi, and they didn’t anything that inspires confidence that they will be able to work with the same parties at the center.