Defying pollsters and stunning political rivals barely a year after launching the Aam Aadmi Party, Arvind Kejriwal made a spectacular debut on Sunday and promised to spread his wings beyond the capital.
The main architect of Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement in 2011, Kejriwal apparently took the biggest risk of his public life by turning political sans Hazare. But the move – his critics called it suicidal -- paid off rich dividends.
The core AAP team, led by the 45 year-old IITian, worked to an unconventional political strategy -- be it making allegations of corruption against top politicians and their kin in public or re-connecting the electricity meters of the poor which had been disconnected due to non-payment of dues.
The masterstroke was in the thinking that the Congress and the BJP would have to be painted with the same brush to stand apart in the political space. Kejriwal relentlessly attacked both and created the niche for alternative politics.
Read: Congress and BJP must change or perish, says upbeat Kejriwal
Helped by an ever-increasing team of young volunteers, mainly comprising college and university students, the AAP leadership conducted internal surveys to choose the party’s name and the apparently uninspiring broom as its symbol.
The message for AAP leaders and volunteers was clear – the name should be simple and should connect with the common man, so should the symbol. And both worked.
Long before the Congress, the BJP and even the people of the capital began thinking about the assembly elections, the AAP put in place the organisational structure even at the ward level. And from then on, Kejriwal was in the field in the torrid summer months.
Though this new political outfit laid down stringent criteria for those aspiring to contest on its ticket, the AAP programme makes it clear that members cannot raise slogans in favour of an individual leader. The core team knew Kejriwal had to be the mascot.
With a dream beginning in the capital, the AAP has already set its sight on the national map. Kejriwal in his brief victory speech referred to making the fight against corruption a national issue, a clear hint that he was ready to go beyond the capital.
Read:AAP will be a constructive opposition, says Kejriwal
Immediately on AAP’s radar are the neighbouring Haryana, Rajasthan and Western UP. It is also looking at major urban centres Mumbai, Bangalore and other places where it can get a foothold.