- Nearly 10,000 people were present at the party’s launch in New Delhi, Monday.
Activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal took the official plunge into electoral politics on Monday, launching his Aam Aadmi Party, the party of the “common man.”
Addressing a crowd of roughly 10,000 people gathered at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar monument for the launch, Mr. Kejriwal said the Aam Aadmi Party would follow the principle of “swaraj,” the Gandhian concept of self-rule, or rule of the people, and focus on issues that concern common people, like “social inequality, health, education, farmer’s rights and price rise.”
Describing the event as “history in the making,” on Twitter Mr. Kejriwal earlier said his party’s aim was also to “throw out” India’s “corrupt political system.”
Mr. Kejriwal, who announced his anti-corruption movement would turn political in September, added that those present at the public rally “will be treated as founding members” of his party.
The Aam Aadmi Party has two kinds of members: general and active. General members have to work for the party for four months before becoming active members, which would allow them to vote on all important party decisions. The party already has 23 active members, including several of Mr. Kejriwal’s closest associates, like social activist Manish Sisodia and lawyer-turned-activist Prashant Bhushan.
We asked several people at the rally why they decided to join Mr. Kejriwal’s newborn Aam Aadmi Party as “general” members.
- Adarsh Kumar, a businessman from Uttarakhand participated in the rally in New Delhi.
Adarsh Kumar, a 38-year-old businessman, came to Delhi all the way from Kotdwara, a town in the northern state of Uttarakhand to show his support for the party. “This party has given us a chance to vote for something we believe in. There is no rhetoric or false promises. It is formed for a cause,” Mr. Kumar said, with reference to Mr. Kejriwal’s anti-corruption crusade. “So far, the fight was through rallies and sit-in-strike. Now, the voice will be heard in Parliament,” added Mr. Kumar.
Like most people at the rally, Mr. Kumar was wearing a Gandhi cap, which Mr. Kejriwal turned into a symbol of his political initiative. The caps, also known as “topis,” were printed with the phrase, “Main Hoon Aam Aadmi,” Hindi for “I am common man.”
Surinder Maini, a farmer from Delhi’s neighboring state of Haryana, described the creation of the party as “possibly a step in the right direction to ward off corruption.”
He said he was joining the party despite having “no expectations” Mr. Kejriwal could challenge established parties like Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party to become a leading political force in the country. “I’m here to lend my support to the movement, which I feel is the need of the hour,” said Mr. Maini.
- Rajiv Malhotra said he wanted the party to make its stand clear on issues of development
Rajiv Malhotra, a student at Delhi University, said he wanted the party to make its stand clear on issues of development. “I like the idea of forming this people’s party. But it should focus on development. When development happens, corruption will automatically end,” he argued.
Tauseef Khan, a trader from the northern state of Jammu and Kashmir, said he was “proud to be part of AAP”.
Mr. Khan said he had joined the Congress party last year after its general secretary, Rahul Gandhi, visited his village. At the time, “that was the only party committed to serving the interests of the common man,” said Mr. Khan, who has since changed his mind. “I have been following Kejriwal and his activities and it has finally dawned on me that most of these major political parties are corrupt and exist for their leaders’ existence. So, I have made a shift,” he added.
Anju Rani,a 32-year-old primary school teacher from New Delhi, said she joined the party in the hope that it would give equal representation to women in its ranks, unlike established parties. “This is the right time to join and be part of it,” said Ms. Rani.
Mr. Kejriwal said his party was likely to contest its first election late next year, when New Delhi is set to hold state polls.