Following Delhi Assembly Elections 2013 results on Sunday, 8th December, 2013, a daily newspaper next day carried a cartoon showing Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi admonishing a few of her party men and asking them to identify one who had asked Arvind Kejriwal to ‘go and form a party and fight elections if he intended to pass his Jan Lokpal Bill.’
Well, this, in fact, sums up and may seem to point out the basic reason that led to kick start and later to origin of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). And consequently, nearly a year later, dethroning and decimation of the Congress regime in the state of Delhi.
One may recall that at the height of Anna’s movement (Apr. – Dec. 2011) that garnered nationwide support to press for passing an anti-corruption instrument – the Jan Lokpal Bill – by the Parliament, the political class simply ridiculed their efforts saying that legislation are not enacted on the streets. And it further coaxed them into joining the electoral politics if the intention was to be a part of enacting any legislation. Aam Aadmi was not amused; was, instead, soundly snubbed, cheated and hugely humiliated in the end by the political class.
Fed up with political maneuvering at every step that frustrated the passage of Lokpal Bill – after being cleared in the Lok Sabha in whatever sketchy form, eventually got blocked in Rajya Sabha – that left everyone high and dry. Arvind Kejriwal and his team finally decided to accept the gauntlet thrown at them. This was sadly at the expense of parting of ways with Anna.
It was against this backdrop that in October 2012, IAC (India Against Corruption) made a transition from playing the role of socio-political activists to that of a political outfit to rub shoulders with the mainstream political parties of the land. I had then picked this development up and had posted a write-up titled: ‘India Against Corruption (IAC) in its new ‘Avatar’ Makes an Impressive Debut’
Like many others, I too have followed closely the progress of this brand new political party – AAP – with some avid interest and have also occasionally shared my thoughts and perception on the developing political scenarios particularly the one relating to Delhi.
Just ahead of this year’s elections in Delhi, I had posted a write-up titled: ‘Delhi Assembly Elections 2013: A Lot at Stakes for Voting Class and Political Parties in Fray’; basically with a view to project my own assessment and impressions about this event and to say that AAP had its nose slightly in front ahead of its main rivals.
Later, as the election campaign picked up and was heading for a bitter triangular fight, I went back and posted another write-up titled: ‘Delhi Assembly Elections 2013: Slog Over Begins, Poised for Exciting Finish’ to make an observation that notwithstanding what its rival parties may be saying, AAP was on course to achieve the target it had set for itself.
Look at the way the main rival political parties had dubbed AAP during electioneering and till as late as on the eve of counting of polled votes as something akin to a ‘chillar-party’ (courtesy, Nitin Gadkari-BJP), ‘a vote-cutter and spoiler rather than a serious contender’ (courtesy, Congress), ‘voting for AAP a sheer waste of one’s vote (courtesy, Sushma Swaraj –BJP) and the like. Trying to pull the opposition down and demoralize it is well part of the election strategies political parties often take recourse to but the manner in which AAP was held in contempt to wean it away from its vote- support-base was something apparently not part of a healthy democratic practice. That at the end of the day all such insinuations had boomeranged on them is the plain truth now.
The record voter turnout (66%) this time round in Delhi was a good sign. The way voters turned up in huge numbers forcing the polling hours to extend beyond scheduled 5.00 pm and continuing at many polling booths till as late as 9.00 pm was something that hadn’t happened before. The young first time voters turning up in good strength as also women voters and many senior citizens showing up at various polling booths were the redeeming features this time. The NOTA (None Of The Above) option introduced in the electronic voting machines for the first time reportedly had 46,000 such votes that worked out to 0.6 % of the total number of votes in Delhi, also reflected the enthusiasm of Delhi voters.
However, at the end of it all, Delhi projecting a hung Assembly is certainly not the ideal thing to have happened.
Post election-results, AAP with 28 seats, next only to BJP with 32 (including 1 from SAD –its alliance partner), has announced to play its role as responsible opposition and has ruled out any possibility of its tie-up with either BJP or Congress. This is keeping in line with its pre-election stance of maintaining equal distance with both BJP and Congress. It has, however, assured that it may not destabilize the government should BJP decide to step in to run the show.
AAP, falling well short of majority mark, as I perceive it, is a blessing in disguise. Otherwise, pitch- forked straightaway into the hot seat to govern and administer Delhi would probably have posed a few problems for this nascent party notwithstanding its intention to administer well and deliver fast. After all, nitty –gritty of administration on the political, administrative and governance fronts for any new political outfit may necessarily involve a period of learning curve. By sitting in the opposition, AAP can make best use of learning the ropes without risking its position as a potentially viable and effective alternative.
By all accounts AAP has done exceedingly well to get where it finds itself now. People’s hopes and aspirations all over have now taken wings and sensing this mood AAP is now also positioning itself to move beyond Delhi and be a part of players on the national stage. The Delhi elections have shown the way and people having witnessed and realized its own inherent powers in throwing up an alternative option, may now be itching to replicate such stories elsewhere. AAP knows and appreciates all this only too well. A momentum to its political wheel is already there, it’s now up to it to keep the momentum going.
Well done AAP. From now on, you can only look ahead and continue leading the Aam Aadmi that’s standing firmly behind you.