Big win brings big responsibility: Four things AAP should be wary of

  • Viju Cherian, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Feb 11, 2015 14:31 IST

In May 2014, after the BJP won an absolute majority in the Lok Sabha, many feared that the lack of a credible Opposition was bad for democracy. It's natural that similar concerns arise after AAP winning 67 of the 70 seats in the Delhi assembly. It'll be useful to remember historian John Dalberg-Acton at this moment: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

While most of Delhi is celebrating the AAP's victory, it'll be good for the party and its well-wishers to pause and think. AAP has all going for it and in that adrenaline rush, it's easy to fall.

In view of its past record, here are four potential areas where the AAP could falter if it is not careful:

1. Huge mandate - great expectations

The enormity of the victory is frightening and it'll be tough - not impossible - for AAP to replicate it in the 2020 polls. Now that the AAP has reached the political pinnacle in Delhi, the battle will be not only to stay there for five years, but also to continue enjoying the support and goodwill it has at the moment.

AAP's long list of promises - from water to electricity, from women's safety to education - will have to be fulfilled before the electorate becomes impatient. There's a lesson it can learn from the Modi victory: If you promise the Moon, the electorate will not settle for anything less.

2. Neighbouring ties - good and bad

The AAP's victory comes at a time when Delhi's neighbouring states are with other parties. Uttarakhand has a Congress government, Haryana has a BJP government and Uttar Pradesh has a Samajwadi Party government. While there might not be much opposition from the SP and the Congress to an AAP government, the same cannot be said about the BJP. After all, the AAP's emphatic victory is more a body blow to the BJP than to the Congress, which had given up long before the first vote was cast.

The recent statement by Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar that his water-deficit state alone should not be banked upon for meeting the water needs of Delhi is a pointer to a possible build-up of tension between the two state governments.

3. Biting more than it can chew

In the 2013 assembly elections, no one thought that the AAP would come second, four short of the BJP's 32 seats in the Vidhan Sabha. To a great extent, AAP was also caught unawares with the scale of victory (much like it was on Tuesday). It gave a shot at running the government but failed. Soon after it tried to make its presence felt at the national level and miserably failed. It misread the Delhi verdict and thought of replicating it across the nation, especially at urban centres. But even in urban pockets, like Mumbai and Bengaluru, it could not make a difference.

Now, after Tuesday's victory, if it sets its sights on Punjab, Bihar or other states, it'll have the experience of past follies and the burden of continuing the Delhi juggernaut. It's hard to not be carried away into thinking that this 'wave' can be replicated in other states.

4. The aftereffects of victory

The AAP, just like other parties, has a very low threshold for criticism. Its reaction to criticism often borders on a self-righteousness that condemns the critic: He is from a rival party, that journalist is pushing an agenda, that media house is loyal to an industry giant, paid media, etc. In this the issue is not addressed. The images of that winter night at Khirki Extension and the overnight protest by Arvind Kejriwal near the Rail Bhavan in Delhi are still afresh in many minds. With an absolute majority it will take extra effort to suppress this self-destructive streak in the AAP.

At times there's poetic justice in politics: Arvind Kejriwal is set to take oath as the CM of Delhi on February 14 - exactly a year after he resigned from the post. Be that as it may, the test is not to cross the 49-day mark nor to even complete the term, but to ensure that AAP delivers on its promises and keep the hope alive in the aam aadmi that politics is not the last resort of scoundrels.

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