Will The AAP Effect Go National?

By Suhani Gupta

Arvind Kejriwal, as we know, is a former civil servant, leading the ‘Common Man Movement’ i.e. the newly formed ‘Aam Aadmi Party’, which has been greeted by all with curiosity and skepticism. Kejriwal turned down Rs. 50 crore because it wasn’t clean money, he says. Some months back, politicians wondered whether he would be able to create his influence on the politics of the capital, Delhi. Now they are raising questions over the ways in which he is going to influence the politics of the entire nation! Is AAP only a local phenomenon? Will the AAP effect spread to other states in the nation? Will AAP be able to leave an impact on the 2014 general elections?

Without even an iota of governing experience, AAP has been able to win over many hearts and has created for itself a long list of achievements. In December it managed to gather 40% of votes in polls for Delhi’s assembly, winning 28 out of 70 seats. It managed to beat the long established BJP and took support from the Congress. On January 2nd 2014, Mr. Kejriwal was confirmed as Delhi’s new chief minister. All this has happened despite of the fact that AAP had no recourse to money or muscle power, and no dynastic superiority. It has almost been a fairy tale launch for Arvind Kejriwal and his party.

Before trying to predict AAP’s position in the 2014 general elections, one must analyze the factors behind the victory of the party in the Delhi elections and more importantly, the motivation and thought process of the people who voted for it. The appeal of its singular focus – getting rid of corruption from its roots, is the basic factor that has led to the widening of its reach across caste and creed, generation and gender. The votes in favor of AAP were not the ones relating to hope for a golden fortune but were largely protest votes against corruption. No one in the political panorama has provided such an impressive brew of honest passion and righteousness before. Others have been content on offering the people, a concoction of suspicion and smugness, which has resulted in widespread public distrust of most political institutions or rather, of politics itself.

True to its promises, immediately after coming to power, AAP provided water and electricity at reduced rates to the citizens in the capital, and further went on to abolish the evident signs of VIP culture. Alongside however, its unconventional ways of attacking corruption, such as dharnas and rallies have somewhat confused people about its ability to handle the governance of the entire nation. Moreover, the party’s initial talks revolved around replacing the ‘corrupt Congress’, however as all of us witnessed, Congress was the party AAP took support from, to come in power.

The party’s brave decision to take the national plunge and fight the general elections against the long established parties has surprised many. In the upcoming general elections, AAP might be able to gather support from some states where its influence is being observed, however it will be a humungous task for the party to tackle the states where local politics is dominated by established regional parties. It is not correct to make predictions at this time, but it is quite possible that the party fails to make as strong an influence across the nation as it did in the capital. However it cannot be denied that it is going to be an uphill task. AAP had launched itself in Delhi in the backdrop of the Jan Lokpal movement which was the center of the anti corruption agitation in 2011, and this helped AAP to fight its first election from the national capital.

What is required at this point from AAP is that it spells out its views and plans regarding foreign policy, tackling inflation, international relations, building a stronger agricultural sector, creation of more jobs, etc. Through its chance of governing Delhi, AAP must prove to the entire nation that it is capable of shouldering the massive responsibility of governing on a national scale. The common man bothered by rising prices and disgusted by corruption voted for the AAP in Delhi in large numbers despite the fact that the party is a new one without any experience. Let us all see if the joyride continues in the forthcoming general elections.

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