On 21 August, AAP Overseas connected with its volunteers from the Gulf Cooperation Council region (Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Oman, and Kuwait) via Google Hangout. Almost all participants had spent time in Delhi either during the Lok Sabha or Delhi Elections, and have since returned to their jobs. They all wish to continue their support and affiliation with the party in whatever way they can. Adarsh Shastri (MLA Dwarka) spoke directly with volunteers during this 40-minute session (view the full conversation here). Here are the key takeaways:
1. Delhi Government Update
Shastri emphasised the pace and sincerity with which the Delhi Government has been working. In just 6 months, work is either complete or underway for 20% of AAP’s campaign promise. Here is an article in The Hindu that highlights the Delhi Government’s work so far.
2. The Delhi Government Welcomes Expertise
The Delhi Government recognises that Indians living abroad may have expertise in various governance areas, and encourages such individuals to approach the government to help improve Delhi. There are numerous urban issues that need to be addressed, for example, water treatment, renewable energy, waste management, and public transport. The Delhi Government is actively seeking expert consulting on such issues.
3. Party Structure Update: AAP Overseas
Now that AAP is no longer in perpetual campaign mode, it has taken time to re-structure the organization and ensure that responsible leadership heads areas of importance.
Kumar Vishwas and Adarsh Shastri head AAP Overseas. There is a dedicated team in Delhi, called the Overseas Secretariat, which will be the official channel to coordinate with all NRIs and relay their concerns to the party leadership. AAP Overseas has dedicated social media assets and email ID, which will respond within 24-hours.
A global structure of AAP volunteers is being developed. Given the time commitment and functional requirements, the party is seeking to establish 2-3 Point of Contacts for each country. These will be known as Country Coordination Committees, and they will be in constant dialogue with the Overseas Secretariat.
4. Membership Drive, Political and Government Updates
The top priority for overseas volunteers at the moment is to increase membership in their communities. In addition, we must ensure that Indian communities know about AAP’s vision and receive accurate updates on AAP’s work. Volunteers are encouraged to do this in their personal capacities, and plan more organised dissemination of information.
5. Punjab Jodo
Politically, the top-priority at the moment is Punjab. The party recently launched a campaign under the name Punjab Jodo. The party is in good standing, and there are chances of a sweeping victory similar to Delhi. If successful, AAP will have a major opportunity to prove its ability to curb corruption in a State that has declined due to the ruling party’s Mafioso practices.
6. Patience and Vigilance
AAP entered politics to deliver clean governance and encourage participatory democracy. AAP is a very open party; anybody can join and contribute. However, the fear of bad elements penetrating our structure should not prohibit us from increasing membership. Keep your heart and mind open, as well as your eyes and ears. Have faith that such people will be caught and removed from the party accordingly.
7. Region-specific Guidelines
Since political systems in GCC countries are not as accepting of political activity as Western countries are, GCC volunteers requested the Overseas Secretariat for official guidelines from the party as to the type of activities they can and cannot engage in. We can expect such guidelines within 2-3 weeks.
The Global Conversation Continues
In keeping with the party’s humble attitude, the overseas team acknowledged that the party has not made substantial efforts to sustain dialogue with NRIs, especially those from the GCC region, until now. The Hangout was therefore an important initiative in signalling to our community that the party takes us seriously. It also re-affirms the global support that a movement like AAP has. Together we have achieved the unthinkable in Delhi, now we have to sustain and deliver on our vision.