AAP, the Aam Aadmi’s Party – But For How Long?

Arvind Kejriwal, from the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), took oath as Delhi’s 7th chief minister on 28th December 2013 as he described his party’s journey since its inception about a year ago as “nothing short of a miracle”.  As he gave his speech he appealed to his fellow party workers to never become arrogant and urged the citizens of Delhi to never seek or give a bribe. The speech, given on Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan was a symbolic reminder to the people that Kejriwal had not forgotten the original route that he had set out on. An anti-corruption movement that played out on this very ground in 2011 had forced parliament to commit to an ombudsman, namely the Lok Pal bill.

Arvind Kejriwal

Arvind Kejriwal

Aam Aadmi Party Manifesto

Kejriwal’s actions, like travelling to the oath taking ceremony in the metro, declining to live in a government provided accommodation and refusing Z category security can be seen in consonance with the ‘Anti-VIP’ culture he and his party are striving to bring in.  AAP has also promised to end this VIP culture in Delhi by scrapping the most visible form of the culture i.e. the lal batti cars. No member of the party will travel in cars having lal battis’ on them. This is a step in the right direction. One which will end the superior-inferior paradigm that has always been portrayed in Indian politics.  

Is Aam Aadmi Party the saviour?

A cautious reminder to those people who are all too happy about AAP coming into power, bear in mind that AAP has made a lot of lofty promises which they have to deliver upon.  At this point in time, I can’t help but draw a parallel to November 2008 when Barack Obama won the 2008 US elections and became the first black skinned president in the US. Phrases like “History has been made” were thrown around left, right and center. People were in frenzy, just like they are now.  All too happy just to see a very strong and visible form of change in government. Well, Obama’s performance today can seriously be questioned. Let’s just hope AAP doesn’t meet the same fate.

AAP PromisesAAP Symbol

Some of the promises, according to AAP’s manifesto, include reducing electricity bills and auditing electricity distribution companies which overcharge consumers, providing 700 litres of free water to every household and starting “mohalla sabhas” or neighbourhood meetings to bring in the opinion of the public in policy making. The party has also promised to bring a strong lokpal bill or anti-corruption ombudsman within 15 days of them coming into power.  Some would say the promises made by AAP are to idealistic and not grounded in reality. One thing is for sure though; they have a herculean task ahead of them. One which will require a lot of hard work, conviction, self-control and constant support from their beloved ‘aam aadmi’. Simply put, AAP cannot afford to fail. If they do, people will lose hope. Congress and BJP will again be the only choices and the aam aadmi will go back to being cynical and resistant to any change.

Road ahead for AAP

Now, looking ahead, can AAP go national in 2014? The answer-probably not.  Understandably, it’s going to be very difficult for them to scale up to such an extent in such a little amount of time. Also, they will be very busy trying to lay the ground work and accomplish their agenda for Delhi. AAP’s appeal could probably work in places like Gurgaon and Bangalore. But breaking into places like Kolkata, Chennai or Lucknow for that matter is going to be very tough. In the end, where do Kejriwal and AAP stand? Are they in for the long haul who will make a dent in Indian politics or will they start with a bang, make a lot of noise and fizzle out gradually? Well, we’ll see in about a year.

-By Prerit Sethi
1st year, RGNUL

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