The name of a political party matters. They must not only capture the party’s ideology, but also have a strong emotional connect with people. While most political parties in India have kept this in mind, Kejiriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party has taken the most unconventional route. It will be interesting to see if the phrase – ‘aam aadmi’ will click as a party.
When Indian National Congress was formed, the word ‘Congress’ had such a universal appeal that the Nelson Mandela movement named its party the African National Congress. Congress lost its Englishness soon, and over the past few decades, it has become a generic term. From Nationalist Congress Party to the Trinamool Congress, numerous parties have borrowed the word. Same is the case with the word ‘Janata’ – directly understood in every Indian language. Following the Emergency, opposition groups came under the banner of the Janata Party led by Jayaprakash Narayan. Almost all parties that emerged from this lineage were named after janata – Bharatiya Janata Party, Janata (United), Janata (Secular), Biju Janata Dal – to name a few. Communist parties across the world can be easily be identified by words like ‘Communist’, ‘Marxist’ or ‘labour’. Similarly, in Tamil Nadu, almost all parties have the word ‘Dravida’ – the D factor. Never mind what AIDMK, DMK, DMDK, MDMK and PDK stand for – as long as the D is there, everything else is secondary.
Kejiriwal, in all his good intent, has named his party after a very common word which has so far been used only in lines of poverty and misery, mostly by columnists, politicians and cartoonists. The word, however ironic it may sound, has always been ridiculed as the mango man – the man whose life is as static and unchanging as the name itself. The name has a burden to carry of its own. Under such a situation, taking an absolutely new and politically neutral concept for a name, building a party and (hopefully) a movement around it is a herculean task. Will the word ‘Aam Aadmi’ show the gravity and sentiment to drive a new political wave, the way ‘congress’, ‘janata’ or ‘dravidam’ once did? This is something only time can tell. For now all we can do is wish new guns a meaningful political career.