'Delhi's politics is much more class politics than caste politics'

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New Delhi, Dec 23: One of the key members of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), a political scientist, a political activist as well as a Senior Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Yogendra Yadav had a freewheeling chat with a senior journalist Ajaz Ashraf on various issues like why he joined AAP and many more.

Here are the excerpts from the interview:

On being asked that what made him join the anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare and subsequently the AAP, Yadav said that since last three decades, he has been involved in social movements as a member, as a co-conspirator and as a comrade.

Yadav said, "I am a political animal who had strayed into the world of political science. But the AAP movement in general has brought in a lot of middle class professionals, less from academia but more from IT, from management, who have joined and worked for it."

"A big movement tends to draw people from outside the activist class and creates a new activist class. This is what the AAP movement has done", he added.

On AAP movement, Yadav said, "For me, this movement is about a very large number of Indians transiting from being subjects to being citizens. If you ask me for an overall caption for the AAP movement, it would be, from subject-ship to citizenship. "

On his ouster from the UGC, Yadav said, "That's a very silly and small affair. It came on the front-page. In my mind, the moment you decide to take on the ruling party on the street, you expect to pay some price."

On being asked that why did they release the opinion surveys that were done for the internal assessment of AAP, Yadav said, "When I joined the party, when we decided to contest the Delhi election, my suggestion to my colleagues was that we shouldn't go by hearsay and individual impressions, and that we need a scientific survey. This is particularly important for a new party which doesn't have any visible support. They agreed. In the month of February, we conducted a poll, which was strictly for internal consumption. We found that we had a 14 per cent vote-share, which, I must say, encouraged me a lot. I had prepared myself for a very, very long haul, and for me, anything above 10 per cent signified decent success, which would give us a foothold. I was encouraged with 14 per cent, my friends were not."

"Then, in June-July, I was not in Delhi and we tried to have our volunteers to carry out a survey. It did not work out, because volunteers can't do such surveys. It doesn't give you an independent feedback", he further said.

"We used what was our internal survey - because it was truthful, because we were technically on firm grounds -as a political weapon."

On being asked about his reaction on a criticism that why AAP doesn't question the structural arrangement of power in very sharp ideological terms, Yadav said, "I think the objection is not that it doesn't question the structural arrangement of power. I think the objection is that it doesn't do so in a language that I (the critics) like and certify. To my mind that while on the face of it, the AAP looks like an anti-corruption movement, the most powerful strand in it is about the radical restructuring of political power."

Asked whether "what has made the Aam Aadmi Party click, Yadav said, "Our evidence suggests that we are the strongest in the middle, but middle not in the sense in which the word middle class is understood, because in India the middle class is a euphemism for the ruling class, for the top 10 per cent. Our evidence, based on our opinion polls, shows we are weak in the top 10 per cent and in the bottom 20 per cent. In the bottom 20 per cent we barely match the Congress; in the top 10 per cent we trail behind the big parties. But in the rest of segments we are leading, doing much better than anyone else. So we have clearly moved far beyond what the media calls the middle class."

Since last three decades,I have been involved in social movements:Yogendra Yadav

On how he joined AAP, Yadav said, "Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia approached me between Anna's April and July fasts. They had read me, they knew of my public support for it, and they wanted me to join."

"For me, when 20 eminent personalities wrote to Arvind to end his fast at the Jantar Mantar last year -I was involved in drafting that letter - and when the letter was accepted and a political party was formed, there was no reason for me not to join them. After that, it would have been dishonest. It was then that I joined the Aam Aadmi Party."

"I have always maintained that small players in politics can sometimes alter the rules of the game. And this is one respect we can take some credit for it - Prashant Bhushan and Arvind Kejriwal, these two characters, in some ways, changed the rules of the game. "

On monopoly over Muslim votes in Delhi, Yadav said, "nearly after 20 years, someone has challenged the Congress monopoly over Muslim votes. It is a small group but it is important that if you are educated, we tend to do better, if you are young, we tend to do better, but if you are both an educated and young Muslim, then the Aam Aadmi Party is your first choice. At least in that segment, we have already moved ahead of the Congress."

On being asked about Dalit-vote share in Delhi, Yadav said, "One of the most pleasing aspects for me personally is that the Aam Aadmi is No 1 party among the Dalits in Delhi. Now, you don't associate the Aam Aadmi Party with Dalits, because we haven't obviously played out any Dalit politics card, apart from, in a small way, the broom symbol we have and a little more attention we have paid to the Valmiki community. But our vote-share in the Dalit community is 32 per cent, exactly which is what our average vote-share is."

"A Dalit has a water problem, a Dalit needs cheap electricity, a Dalit needs a better education. A party that talks about these things, and a party which calls itself the Aam Aadmi Party, well, the word "aam aadmi" has a resonance for everyone who is poor and disadvantaged, whether in economic or social terms. It seems to be clicking. I have always maintained that Delhi's politics is much more class politics than caste politics. An Aam Aadmi appeal, which is a class appeal, seems to be working."

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Source: India Opines

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