In today’s Economic Times, I was reading this article on the attempts by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to establish roots in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. The article mentioned about the party already recruiting booth level coordinators in those two states and thus starting to prepare for the forthcoming elections.
The question, however, is why someone would want to be a booth coordinator for AAP. Before we examine that, let us examine why someone would want to be a booth coordinator for a party – some might see it as a stepping stone – having coordinated a booth, one might find a way into the higher echelons of the party, and might result in an MLA ticket the next time round.
However, in most cases this is rather unrealistic. Given the number of booth coordinators required in each assembly constituency, the promise of at most one of them being elevated to MLA is not enough to motivate them to work. The party needs to find a different way of compensating them.
Cadre based parties do this by paying their members a salary, and booth coordinators are thus paid to do their work. The salary may not be immense, but most cadre-based parties are ideologically driven and it is possible to find party workers who are willing to work as booth coordinators for the given fee.
Less ideological (and perhaps more practical minded) parties use a different method to motivate their booth coordinators – they are promised sweet deals and government contracts in return for their services. Given the size of the government and the discretion of the elected representatives, it is possible to suitably compensate each booth coordinator. For example, the guy who coordinated my booth for the sitting MLA’s party in the last elections also got the contract to desilt and cover the storm water drains on my road!
Coming back, how do you think the AAP will find booth coordinators? While it may be a strongly ideological party, it is still young and is unlikely to have the resources to find enough motivated people to man booths in quantities required to run a national election. Hence the nominally paid cadre route is ruled out. Then, the very ideology of the AAP means that the party is against corruption, and working out sweet deals for its booth coordinators will go against the party ideology, so that is ruled out!
So, the question remains – how will the AAP manage to find the requisite number of booth coordinators?