The interaction with Aam Admi Party (AAP) on Sunday was one of its kind in the history of this nation. It truly was a site of political reimagining. Politicians sitting with common people on the floor and addressing their issues is something I had never imagined, let alone engaged in through a dialogue to understand concerns and mutually arrive at solutions.
On one side, we had the LGBT Q people with their supporters, that refuse to remain non-existent and seeks to be recognized as full citizens. On the other hand were candidates and volunteers of a brand new national party, which claims to have “inclusion” at the top of its agenda.
The conversation was vehement and opinionated from the beginning. The question of why LGBTQ rights were not included in the manifesto as promised in Delhi two weeks ago was asked again and again. And yet, one did not feel that one had an answer…
One could speculate that the omission of gay rights from the AAP manifesto has to do with the party’s internal politics. Either that or the trend has changed and now they are playing vote bank politics. But then one also wonders, why would they fear right-wing votes when the right party itself has included Queer issues in its manifesto?
The community is smart and persistent. Instead of saying, “Go away, you broke your promise, AAP party”, I heard it say “Ok. Let’s move forward. What can we do now so that you include us and our basic rights in your manifesto?” This approach sends a powerful message that the people are still willing to believe in change.
Pallav, my co-moderator, released a report last week, which states that about 50% of people strongly feel that their political party will create change while 40% seem unsure. I think that 50% that believes in change may drop. AAP, which claims not to entertain discrimination based on caste, class, religion and sexuality, chooses to exclude critical LGBTQ rights from its manifesto for the Lok Sabha election 2014. I, for one, fear that until AAP releases a public statement amending this mistake, voters will drift from confident to not sure, or from AAP to Congress.
The AAP party came across as honest and candid and very aam, which is rare in these times when 30% of lawmakers elected to the lower house of Parliament have criminal cases against them.
And yes, the functioning of AAP does seem chaotic, and perhaps, some people want to give them time to prove themselves before they give their votes to them. On the same note, there are people who feel that since this party is evolving and has good governance at its core, we shall continue to build on new policies and laws.
For Queer people and their supporters, it appears to be a choice between voting for a party that will ensure good citizenship and one that will support members of its community to be recognized as full citizens.
And it is up to AAP to make this an easy choice by becoming a party of No More Broken Promises!