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AAP manifesto: no ‘left-right’ on economics, weak on foreign policy

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) released its National Manifesto – 2014 yesterday. It pushed its anti-corruption agenda further with its Jan Lokpal Bill as the first promise. The second leg on which AAP stands is decentralisation of decision making and devolution of power, through the creation and empowerment of gram sabhas in rural areas and mohalla sabhas in urban centres — in its manifesto, it stands at the second place. But of the many issues before India, sceptics were concerned about how India’s youngest party would deal with two — economic policy and foreign policy.
In the space of economic policy, AAP has devoted six pages and stands on firm ground. It has addressed most concerns of the aam aadmi such as prices, jobs and growth. “It is neither Left nor Right and will support every good idea, old or new, if it is in the interest of India,” the manifesto states. Its 11-point agenda includes:
* Facilitating economic growth
* Creating jobs
* Simplifying rules and curbing the black economy
* Promoting honest business and unleashing entrepreneurial energy
* And controlling prices — curiously, this point comes at the end
As far as foreign policy goes, AAP’s stance is short. It is limited in its vision, the expanse would need further mindspace. I’m curious why the party has taken such a conservative, almost defensive, stance on foreign policy. While the minute of foreign policy are layered, the big picture shouldn’t be to difficult to construct. This is what AAP broadly talks about:
* Zero tolerance policy towards cross-border terrorism
* Develop border areas as zones of high economic engagement to create a larger constituency for peace on both sides and tackle illegal immigration
* Strengthen engagement with the US, BRICS and IBSA; promote legitimacy of the UN and democratisation of IMF
In our book, The Disrupter, we had suspected that AAP would be on the backfoot as far as this important aspect of governance is concerned and questioned their spokesperson Atishi Marlena. This is what she told us. ‘People ask, “How can you be a national party if you do not have a view on foreign policy?” We are not embarrassed by the fact that we don’t have the answers. But we are going to find the answers. One or two leaders can sit together and form a policy on anything. But the idea is that it should be well-informed and that it should be thought through.’
Makes some sense — better to come out upfront about one’s limitations rather than promise the moon standing on shaky territory. But in a manifesto, it leaves a big hole.
Some links:
* Download the manifesto here
* Kejriwal releases AAP manifesto, says party is not against business, industries
* AAP unveils economic, foreign policy in manifesto
* Minimal Government intervention will help industry grow: AAP
* AAP manifesto promises Jan Lokpal, police reforms
* Pre-order The Disrupter here
Happy reading.

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