Two years ago, Arvind Kerjriwal became the frontman in the formation of the Aam Aadmi (ordinary man’s) Party (AAP), in an effort to politicize the popular anti-corruption movement in India. Today, it holds a minority government within the Delhi legislative assembly and hopes to expand its influence by contesting over 300 seats in the 2014 Indian General election. Despite initial projections of the party starting something extraordinary in the mould of Indian politics, recent events are showing the true colours of the grassroots political organization.
The AAP promises to sweep away the corruption of Indian public life, using the symbol of a broom in its party logo. The founding members of the AAP all took part in the India Against Corruption movement, which was fighting for the enactment of the Lok Pal Bill to enable the setting up of ‘people’s courts’ to investigate and try cases of corruption among public servants. The AAP is viewed as a sign of middle-class radicalism, capturing the imagination of the people in a city-state that represents a middle-class sensibility, and aspirations to go with it.
Kerjriwal is a 45-year-old former civil servant becoming the youngest Chief Minister in Delhi. Most current politicians in India belong to a “political” family, and have huge financial backing, in comparison to the founders and members of the AAP who do not have these networks. Although caste, religion and traditional political loyalties have traditionally played a large role in elections, luckily, the internet, cell phones, and other forms of media are having a more significant impact on building an Indian spirit against these out-dated politics and parties.
500 million of India’s 1.2 billion are under the age of 25, providing the AAP with support from a population angry at a system that fails to deliver. Its debut into the Delhi elections was made on a promise of Blackjack Online free water to every household with a water meter. Its main platform, however, was to protect the promise of equality and justice enshrined in the Indian Constitution.
The AAP has moved quickly, engaging more membership and staying true to its reforms on water and electricity prices in Delhi. However, the party is not without its troubles. The party is essentially being carried forward by the charisma of Kerjriwal, yet internal dissension has started among members finding faults with the leader. Some of Kerijiwal’s statements have also worried the international investment community: he said he will not allow foreign chains like Walmart and Tesco to set up retail stores in Delhi.
Since it has come into power, many are beginning to doubt the ability of the AAP to functionally perform as a political party. Recently, Kerjriwal led his party to hold a dharna, a fast undertaken at the door of an offender as a means of obtaining compliance with a demand for justice, in the capital demanding for suspension of a number of Delhi Police Officials. Following actions such as these, the citizens of Delhi have begun to wonder if the party should first prove that it is capable of governing a state.
The AAP will need to work hard to spread its “honest man” ideology if its intention is to contest over 300 seats in the upcoming Indian General Election. It will be critical to find an economic model that will not only provide clean government to the people of Delhi, but one also capable of continuously improving the standard of living. While its platform excites many Indians, and its calls for reform in the corrupt Indian political system needs to be achieved, the AAPs self-righteous approach to politics may unfortunately prove to be its biggest hurdle in the upcoming Indian General Election.
– Beth Mansell