When a motley group of activists started out as a political outfit a little more than a year ago, established political parties were quick to write them off.
Traditional politics appears to have been challenged: the buzz that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) generated on Dec 4 by the massive voter turnout and its electoral success on Dec 8 clearly show that the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi have captured the imagination of the people and occupied the mindspace of Delhi voters.
By taking a high moral ground, AAP leaders had sought to re-instill guilt consciousness among other parties. Its candidates were young and fresh and its campaigning innovative.
Even if the buzz does not translate into votes, there is a general feeling that AAP has definitely opened up a new space in the political discourse.
However, political pundits quickly pointed out the fault lines too. The fledgling party made undeliverable promises and wanted to cure all ills only by eliminating corruption, they said. AAP also wants to “ensure justice” to certain communities.
Ravi Ranjan, a fellow at the Developing Countries Research Centre (DU), said: “AAP is also pumping money into the campaign. Will there be no quid pro quo with NRIs donating in large numbers? There is a rush to get power; AAP could have chosen to fight fewer seats.”
The party’s reaction — especially when it was quick to label others as corrupt and demand action — in the recent sting, surprised many. The alacrity shown by AAP in giving a clean chit to its candidates drew flak.
“They should have invited the civil society or sent the tapes for forensic examination. They conducted their own surveys, what is the credibility?” DA Singh, an east Delhi resident, said.
But to their credit, even rivals admit that AAP has prompted people to take the rookie party seriously. The party that can trace its roots to the massive anti-corruption agitation that Delhi witnessed through 2011 and 2012, sought to tap the public anger and exposed corruption in the power and water sector.
Kejriwal’s 15-day fast, termed as ‘civil disobedience’ movement, against inflated water and power bills enabled the party to make inroads into slum clusters. Recent corruption charges, “differences” with Anna Hazare — Kejriwal was his lieutenant before parting ways to form AAP — and the central probe into its foreign funding had the potential of denting its prospects.