The rise of the Aam Aadmi

Published: November 8, 2013
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The writer is a consulting editor with The Statesman and writes for several newspapers in India

The writer is a consulting editor with The Statesman and writes for several newspapers in India

Delhi has always been a ‘political mainstream’ capital, loyal to the Congress and the BJP, shunning regional parties, mocking regional leaders and making it clear through the ballot that no one outside the two ‘favourites’ could hope to get its vote. This resulted in a complacency of sorts, with the Delhi BJP leadership divided and defunct, and the Congress party that has been ruling Delhi for a while now, apathetic and corrupt.

For the first time since Delhi was given an assembly, the tide seems to be turning, at least to a point where a third party is being viewed kindly by the mainstream addicts. The Aam Aadmi party has emerged as a serious contender for the forthcoming assembly elections, with its seemingly maverick leaders Arvind Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan, having worked out some kind of an electoral mantra that is drawing all sections of society. The buzz is reflected in the early polls, where the fight seems to be narrowing between the BJP and the Aam Aadmi, advantage the latter.

The Aam Aadmi party emerged from the Anna Hazare movement against corruption. A cost was paid for the decision to go political with Hazare moving out and now almost retired from public life. But despite the media derision, Kejriwal and his friends set about infusing new depth to what had been essentially a movement against corruption. A new impetus was given to the party with its “bijli, paani” stir, with the Indian bureaucracy that forms a sizeable section of the electorate in Delhi, aghast to find Kejriwal tearing up electricity and water bills, and encouraging people not to pay for something they did not get. This volatile campaign yielded almost immediate results and the first word that there was perhaps a new party emerging, came from the slums, where the dwellers seemed to embrace the Aam Aadmi party symbol, the ‘jharu’ (broom). Again, the upper middle class that had laughed in its drawing rooms about the ‘jharu’ was forced to eat its derision and accept the fact that the symbol had a resonance quite beyond its comprehension. Besides, it seemed to match the self-effacing style of the new party’s leadership, where the personalities were not allowed to eclipse the issues, at least for the moment.

Initially, the Congress maintained that the Aam Aadmi was cutting into its votes, as did the BJP. But it is clear that the new party is cutting into the vote banks of both the powerful political entities, namely the slum-dwellers’ votes from the Congress, and the youth and middle class from the BJP. It still has to make a sufficient dent in the Muslim vote, but has moved rapidly ahead in securing sections of the Sikh vote.

The voters’ minds can never be known until the votes are counted. Hence, while only pollsters and fools will predict the outcome at this stage, it is a fact that Delhi is witnessing the birth of a new party that will play a political role in the days and months to come. And it will be present to challenge the hegemony of the BJP and the Congress in more ways than one. More so, if Kejriwal and the rest stand committed to their promise of not allying with either, and remaining independent.

As the opposition, the Aam Aadmi will clearly create sufficient trouble for whoever reaches power in Delhi. Given its young cadres and enthusiasm, seats in the Delhi Assembly will be turned into a campaign against mis-governance in its different forms. The Delhi voter, unlike others in India, is guided more by considerations of electricity, water, policing, infrastructure, without caste or community muddying the picture as it were. It is more of a class vote than a caste vote here and hence, the popularity of a party that seems to have convinced many of its ability to provide the essentials.

The interesting part will be if the Aam Aadmi emerges as the single largest party, or captures as many votes as any of the others. Apart from the confusion, this will put out a major message to the rest of India. One, in support of federalism; and two, that there is no wave in favour of the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate despite the hype and the media hysteria. If Delhi can move out of the BJP grip, then clearly, the 2014 general elections will be fought on issues far more serious and important than just personalities, charismatic or otherwise.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 9th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (18)

  • gp65
    Nov 8, 2013 - 11:14PM

    ETBLOGS1987

    “The interesting part will be if the Aam Aadmi emerges as the single largest party, or captures as many votes as any of the others. Apart from the confusion, this will put out a major message to the rest of India. One, in support of federalism; and two, that there is no wave in favour of the BJP and its prime ministerial candidate despite the hype and the media hysteria”.

    Interesting, so if the present COngress government is dislodged by Aam Aadmi party, it somehow is a statement against BJP not COngress? Also how does that support mean a support for federalism? That issue is not on agenda of the AAP?Recommend

  • sid
    Nov 8, 2013 - 11:23PM

    Why only Delhi Miss Mustafa????????What about other 4 states?????Because BJP is surely winning 3 of them…….Your prejudice against BJP becomes more apparent……..About Kajeriwal he will join with Congress to keep famous Indian form of secularism alive

    Recommend

  • raj
    Nov 8, 2013 - 11:39PM

    I thought for a moment your toxic Modi fever has subsided. Alas . No. It hasn’t as reflected in your last paragraph.
    AAP is ok. But why do you want chaos at the centre? 15 regional parties forming govt will be disaster.

    Recommend

  • shiraz
    Nov 8, 2013 - 11:42PM

    In South Asia,it has always been about everything, other than real issues…otherwise we would not have seen such massive corrpution,poverty and rich getting richer and poor getting poorer.

    Recommend

  • rajbir
    Nov 9, 2013 - 4:34AM

    politicians sucks ,this time aam aadmi will rule.

    Recommend

  • Indian
    Nov 9, 2013 - 5:47AM

    @sid:
    Why only Delhi? Are you now aware that AAP is not contesting elections in any of the other states??? How naive…

    Recommend

  • IndiaFirst V/s HinduRashtra
    Nov 9, 2013 - 7:37AM

    People in Delhi appears to be completely disillusioned with tall claims of Bjp , on development and anti-corruption plank. On both these fronts, BJP has fallen flat..as none of BJP ruled states stands out among non-BJP ruled states in terms of growth & development. On corruption front, Modi has openly shown liking for corrupt BJP leaders like Yeduraappa , Gadkari, Reddy bros etc. hence, people ID Delhi finds, Aam Admi party as better choice than BJP.. BJP with all its tall claims and media blitz with help of US based media agency, may garner eye balls in media, but whether this will convert into votes, will be million dollar question. BJP and rss supporters are already dreaming and hoping, Feku Modi will help them to get extra votes. There is no tax in India, for such loud dream !!!

    Recommend

  • harkol
    Nov 9, 2013 - 8:50AM

    ma’m:

    2014 election is being fought on issues – not personality. The issue is better governance, economic development and corruption free administration.

    All other issues (like secularism) are redherrings. Majority doesn’t care about them.

    Recommend

  • Rajeev Nidumolu
    Nov 9, 2013 - 9:34AM

    None of the political parties including AAP have answers to real problem of Delhi. Real problem is of unplanned excessive migration of under class with resultant of population explosion in Delhi. This non tax paying migrant population have outstripped the civic ability to provide health, water electricity and sanitation.None of the parties have ability to confront this problem. Delhi is going the way of Karachi

    Recommend

  • Np
    Nov 9, 2013 - 11:21AM

    Sheila Dikshit praises Kejriwal to the skies though he is contesting elections in the same constituency she is. Congress shill Seema Mustafa plugs AAP. Well worn trick to divide opposition vote in a first past the goal post system.

    Recommend

  • Parvez
    Nov 9, 2013 - 3:20PM

    The rise of the AAP could in a way be likened to the rise of the PTI in Pakistan……..but I feel the similarity ends there.
    It looks like the more the cake is divided the harder it will be to form a cohesive government at the centre…….making work a little harder for BJP or Congress.

    Recommend

  • r c nautiyal
    Nov 9, 2013 - 4:22PM

    People expect AAP to follow it’s constitution in letter and spirit unlike other parties, imposing CM and PM from high command. In a democracy decisions are taken at the lowest level and then they move upward, say except a few like defence, finance, foreigh and few other matters. MLAs should elect CM, similarly MPs should elect PM. Unluckily this does not happen in present Indian democracy. Delhi, a cosmopolitan city, has no regards for cast, creed, and lesser for religion or region. This is most ideal condition, for a new party like AAP which is contesting election on the basis of honesty, and goodness. AAP will certainly win absolute majority, if the citizens want a corruption and evil free INDIA.

    Recommend

  • Zeeshan
    Nov 9, 2013 - 9:46PM

    Another reformist….system need to be rooted and there is need to buil a new system focusing 99% of population….this is not possible in capitalistic democracy.

    Recommend

  • JKC
    Nov 9, 2013 - 10:17PM

    Quite correct is the article.
    AAP is the only Hope to get the country rid of the corrupt and rotten system and to transform the lives of the people.
    All political parties, national or regional want to keep the status quo as it suits them.
    No matter which party is in power, the shameless & conscienceless Netas of all parties continue to flourish at the cost of the people- starving and committing suicides.
    May the Lord bless AAP & the country!

    Recommend

  • sid
    Nov 9, 2013 - 11:40PM

    @Indian:
    you are being naive by not understanding her attack on particular person…….read the last paragraph again……Taking support from clerics who issued fatwas against Taslima Nasreen…..

    Recommend

  • Hannah joshua
    Nov 10, 2013 - 3:02AM

    We apolitical, peace loving, law abiding citizens are tired of all corrupt parties. We support AAP for that reason. Hope they quickly garner strength in othervstates too . Keralamhas a rotten right and left we need AAP there.Recommend

  • Mit
    Nov 10, 2013 - 4:00AM

    @sid:
    You said “About Kajeriwal he will join with Congress to keep famous Indian form of secularism alive”. First of all correct your spelling it’s Kejriwal not Kajeriwal and Can you give me a single genuine base to support your statement?

    Recommend

  • sid
    Nov 10, 2013 - 1:02PM

    @Mit:
    Thanks for pointing the spelling………..

    1)Meeting for 2 hrs with controversial cleric who issued fatwa for death against Taslima Nasreen and who was responsible for 2010 Bareilly riots……..

    2)Running away from show when asked about foreign policy(go to youtube) and killings of Indian soldiers…….because if he utters a single word against a particular country, particular religious group will not vote for him……..Indian secularism…..

    Recommend

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