When the Aam Aadmi Party had formed the government in Delhi in early 2013, Nepal’s former PM and Maoist ideologue, Baburam Bhattarai, had hailed it as a ‘departure from dirty, traditional politics’.
In an interview to HT, he had then said that its ‘vision of a participatory democracy’, and focus on ‘corruption and integrity’ was encouraging. He had then warned AAP not to alienate its base, and have greater ‘ideological-political clarity’.
A year later, after suffering major political convulsions, Arvind Kejriwal is back in power in Delhi. Bhattarai remains a key opposition leader, currently on a visit to India. On Tuesday, they met, to have a direct conversation on the political possibilities of AAP and ‘alternative politics’.
Bhattarai began by recognising AAP’s win as a boost for ‘progressive forces’ in all of South Asia. “Both of them were concerned about deepening democracy, going beyond formal structures,” said a source familiar with the meeting. Kejriwal spoke about how they are seeking to experiment with the upcoming state budget and involve people directly in the exercise.
Both the Nepali Maoists and, in the current context, AAP have faced leadership rifts and ideological differences at the top. The two leaders spoke about the ‘organisational question’, and the challenge of instituting a command system in a mass-based party. “The organisation issue was discussed. But the core was trying to create a new kind of politics.”
During the day, Bhattarai also met External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj. She reiterated Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s public statement that the constitution in Nepal should be based on ‘consensus’, and not emerge through the numbers game. “There is no deviation from the line’, she assured the Maoist leader, who briefed her on the political polarization and key spoilers in the process. Bhattarai also called on President Pranab Mukherjee, who has intimately followed Nepal developments for decades and knows the country’s leadership well.
Bhattarai has also met BJP general secretary Ram Madhav, CPM general secretary Prakash Karat, Congress leaders Digivijay Singh and Salman Khurshid. He is scheduled to meet National Security Advisor A K Doval tomorrow and other political leaders tomorrow.