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Title: Delhis Mohalla Sabhas : Participation and party building
Other Titles: A Study of the Participatory Self-Governance Process Initiated by the Aam Aadmi Parry
Authors: Rao, Kirthi V.
Keywords: Delhi - Mohalla Sabhas
Self-Governance Process - Aam Aadmi Party
Lalitha Kamath
School of Habitat Studies
Issue Date: 2016
Abstract: The study examines the participatory budgeting process initiated by the Aam Aadmi Party in the National Capital Territory of Delhi with its multiple turf - conscious governments, agencies and departments. This process was begun as a first step towards local self - governance on a ‘pilot’ basis in eleven constituencies and so the study seeks to analyse the process and trace its possible trajectories. The study, a qualitative case study of the process in one assembly constituency , finds that though the first round has already managed to put in place a coordination mechanism f or these multiple jurisdictions to work together through negotiation, its imprint on the residents’ engagement practices with local state has been insubstantial. This is because of the limited capacity of Delhi’s state government to ‘move the state closer to people’ and also because of the output - oriented conversation that the government itself set in motion. Two inter - related reasons could underlie such a move. The study argues that the process internalised a bureaucratic understanding of people as not int erested in governance processes . Also, the fledgling new party itself believed it could mobilise the power of the state to establish itself as a ‘solver’ of governance problems and build a groundswell of support for itself and its process. While the former approach proved self - fulfilling , with people viewing the process as a forgettable and ineffective series of meetings linked to the budget, the latter too seemed to be misguided as the process got delayed in the city’s tangled governance structures leaving little to ta lk about. As the existing theories of decentralisation indicate and the study argues , realising the Party’s vision requires much more capacity within the state to be built through negotiations with other tiers of government over time and much more support from and for the residents. In the meantime, since ‘being talked about’ has arguably been necessary for the new Party, the process – subject to the new party’s imperatives – could be r e v i e w e d or even suspended, while the meetings may contin ue . In either case, the strategies that this new party follows apart from its current unlikely repertoire of programmatic interventions and personality - based appeals would add to understanding of new party imperatives and their effect in the Indian context.
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