It was a mandate for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the first place, but its leader Arvind Kejriwal wanted to be doubly sure that no taint would attach to him if he formed the government in Delhi with the support of the now decimated Congress. So a mini-referendum later, he is all set to form a government in Delhi after which the real challenges will begin. The people have decisively rejected the old style of governance but what they have voted for is efficiency, an end to corruption, an end to red tape and for people-friendly policies. The new government, in a radical departure from the past, will apparently be sworn in at the Ramlila maidan, where the original anti-corruption movement led by Anna Hazare began.
Mr Kejriwal and his flock have come a very long way since then, unseating an entrenched party and fairly popular chief minister in Delhi with its unorthodox brand of politics. Given the manner in which the AAP has attacked all political parties, accusing them of betraying the trust of the people, it will have to deliver on its promises double quick once it takes over the government. And therein lies the rub. Giving people up to 700 litres of free water a day is no small task in sheer logistics, not to mention its economic viability.
A reduction in power tariffs is also something which will be welcomed by the people, but who will foot the bill? The AAP has said it will shun the trappings of office which again will be music to the ears of Delhiites who have had to suffer the arrogance of politicians who have flaunted their symbols of power shamelessly. But, in the end, it is not that people resent politicians just for the sake of it, it is that after acquiring the perks of power, they did not deliver on their promises. The AAP too may decide to live in their own homes and not use official cars, but the task of delivering the goods in a sprawling and unwieldy city like Delhi is monumental. Here, the AAP has little experience and will have to learn on the job. It hopes that its record in Delhi will catapult it onto the national stage. But for this it needs to be decisive and not use this method of going back to the people for all decisions.
The people have elected the AAP and now expect it to get down to the business of governing. There will be mistakes in the initial days but the people seem in a mood to cut the AAP more slack than they would to others. And rightly so, for the party has put the aam aadmi back onto the centrestage of politics from the margins to which they had been relegated.