If December 8, 2013, the day Delhi assembly election results came out, was a defining moment for the AAP and its unique brand of politics, January 2 was the day of consolidating its hold on the city.
On Thursday, the AAP’s minority government passed an acid test: it won the trust vote. Moving the motion, minister Manish Sisodia put the ball in the Opposition’s court and said that all legislators should rise above party lines and support a government that wants to fight corruption and the VIP culture that has infected politics.
The last speaker of the day — chief minister Arvind Kejriwal — expanded on this theme and spoke passionately about his government’s 18-point agenda and the need for a new deal. Mr Kejriwal knew that the citizens of Delhi would be eagerly listening to his speech and he exploited the opportunity to the hilt, driving home the point that corrupt politics is holding back the city’s development and increasing inequity.
When the debate started on Thursday afternoon, leaders of the Congress and the BJP targeted the AAP and its populist policies. While the BJP said that the AAP’s populist moves are evoking praise now, but will soon fade once it becomes clear that the policies are ill-advised, the Congress, after assuring full support, said that the decision of free water will not benefit the needy.
During the debate, Congress leader Arvinder Singh Lovely assured the AAP that there was "no danger" to its government in Delhi "till you [the AAP] keep taking decisions that benefit the people." Mr Kejriwal knows very well that this is a veiled threat and not an assurance of any long-term support to his government.
There will always be a Damocles’ sword hanging over his government and it just might be used after the general elections of 2014.
In effect, the AAP government probably has roughly six months to decorate its shop window, place its wares (governance models) on the shelf and attract the right kind of audience in the 300-odd constituencies the party plans to contest across India.
The AAP has hit the ground running with two back-to-back major policy initiatives (water and power). But these steps are not enough: to change things, it needs to get its hands dirty and also take harsh decisions, as and when required.