Reported by Sandeep Sarangi
Bhubaneswar, May 15:
The first foray of Swaraj Abhijan, the forum launched by former Aam Admi Party (AAP) top gun Yogendra Yadav, into Odisha on Thursday turned out be a tame affair.
Yadav held a Swaraj Samvad meeting at Bhubaneswar’s Lohia Academy to promote the newly floated political outfit. The meeting and the party, however, failed to impress the public.
Just about 100-120 men, many of them brought all the way from western Odisha, sat in a small meeting hall without really participating in the deliberations – hardly encouraging for a political movement that has national aspirations.
Even the intellectually stirring speech by the renowned psephologist-turned-politician, the main attraction in the meeting, failed to enthuse the largely uninterested gathering.
The organizers appeared to be a bit confused about how they should go about dealing with their friend turned foe AAP.
While the state convenor was direct in taking on AAP, Yadav himslef treaded a more cautious path. He did take a dig at the party more than once during his hour-long speech, but without actually naming anybody.
In his speech, Yadav questioned the high command structure of AAP, its lust for power, its decision to limit itself to Delhi and took a dig at the party on suicide of the Rajasthan farmer during an AAP rally in New Delhi – all, of course, without directly taking the name of AAP. “AAP has turned out be a political alternative instead of the alternative politics that it set out to become,” the rebel leader said.
Curiously enough, Yadav did take a jibe at the BJD on a couple of occasions – once while making a passing reference to its long years of rule and saying someday it has to go down (“Kabhi to jayegi”) and on another occasion reminding the audience about the Rs 60,000 crore coal scam.
Speaking about the new outfit, Yadav called for Swaraj-II that will bring about a change in culture, usage of local language, education, policy and transparency and offer a respectable living for everyone.
Yadav made his political ambitions very clear. “Every day I am asked if we are going to contest elections, if Swaraj Abhiyan is a political party or a social movement. I want to make it very clear that, we are in politics. We are trying to change the political landscape of the country and offer alternate politics. And elections are part of politics,” said Yadav.
“Yogendra Yadav and some senior founder members were ousted from the party after AAP tasted victory in Delhi assembly polls. The new outfit has been formed in this context. We want to tell the people of the hypocrisy of AAP and the reason some of the founder members were shown the door. We are trying to formulate a strategy to take the movement to the people,” said Lingaraj, a friend of Yadav from his college days and State Convenor of Swaraj Abhiyan, who contested the last election as an AAP candidate from the Bargarh Lok Sabha constituency.
A novel idea of the outfit, however, was Swaraj Kendra, even though the bored audience gave it a clear miss. It calls upon local volunteers of the party to help illiterate and the poor with their daily doses of policy needs.
It may be noted that after founding the party in April 14, Yogendra Yadav, Prashant Bhusan and many other senior leaders of the party are criss-crossing the country to open a dialogue with people from various walks of life through Swaraj Samvad on the need for a new model of democratic politics in the country.