Millennium Post

Panch Saal Kejriwal!

As I write this piece, the results of Delhi assembly elections are pouring in. The Aam Aadmi Party’s ‘’broom” has literally swept these elections. The victory is historical for AAP after a lacklustre show at the Lok Sabha elections just eight months ago. Almost all television channels and exit polls had earlier predicted a victory in Delhi for the fledgling party, but the final result is perhaps unseen in the history of elections in India. As counting proceeds and TV channels show trends and offer their overwhelming comments, a friend from a distant place called me and was particularly excited over the outcome of the Delhi polls.

Though he is a sympathiser of another party, the outcome was something that excited for him. He wanted me to analyse how AAP could manage such a splendid performance. I offered him a couple of explanations, such as, it did a lot of hard work unlike its rivals, connected better with the aam aadmi, youth, women, the urban poor, and on top of it, the party held out the hope that an ordinary person (aam aadmi) can truly come to power and govern. With relatable looks and supreme levels of communication skills, Kejriwal spoke to those disillusioned with the traditional dhoti/pajama-kurta clad politician.

The Aam Aadmi Party, in its selection of candidates, also gave the impression that they are different from other political parties. What really mattered was that they successfully convinced the masses of the fact that AAP was different from other mainstream political parties. They  also seemed serious about changing political discourse in this country. My friend, however, did not seem convinced. He told me that it was AAP’s survival instinct. The party’s spectacular performance, according to my friend, was a result of its survival instincts. For AAP it was perhaps its last hope for survival and consequently did whatever was possible to fight against a seemingly invincible party and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. I could not but agree. AAP’s victory is symbolic, not only for Delhi but for the entire country.

Having said that, I feel AAP’s difficult journey has truly begun now. Its unprecedented victory has come with very high expectations from the electorate. They have to strategically work to keep its promises and in fact will have to go much beyond them. It is a monumental task. More so because there is a different government at the Centre on whom AAP inflicted a crushing defeat. Particularly, maintaining law and order, providing safety and security to women, supplying cheaper electricity and water, and checking corruption requires much more than simple verbal commitments.

The instruments through which these aims are to be achieved are more or less dependent upon the Central Government. The Delhi police, the power distribution and generation companies and the DDA, among others, are all under the Government of India. Unless the Centre cooperates with the AAP-led government, it will be difficult to fulfil those promises. Therefore, AAP has to find alternative ways to deliver on its promises. It may be difficult but it is achievable.

The AAP also cannot afford to gloss over what it promised, as that might not only reverse the situation but also belie the faith people have bestowed upon it. The party has to forget all the types of protests it resorted to in its earlier stint in government. They have to act with maturity and find solutions to Delhi’s ills. Its approach now has to be different. They have to act democratically even though they have won these elections hands down. Demands on the new government will grow since people have lots of expectations. Delivery has to be time bound and express. The government has to take all the sections along, as it governs the city for five years. Effective governance can only ensure its durability and also help the party to replicate its success elsewhere.

AAP’s resounding victory should also be a lesson for other political parties. One important lesson is that of humility. As political parties continue to hold office over a long period, they become complacent or become arrogant. As a consequence they ignore the ideals and promises  they made to the people. Their arrogance is what results in political decimation. The youth constitute a significant section of voters of today. They have little patience for dramatics and political explanations. They want immediate results and sincere efforts. That’s the beauty of democracy. It is the people, who ultimately decide which party they should elect.
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