AAP's Victory: How, Why And What's Next

17/02/2015 8:17 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:24 AM IST
Supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party, or Common Man’s Party, shout slogans as they sit on an autorickshaw decorated with brooms, the party symbol, outside the venue where party leader Arvind Kejriwal is being sworn-in as the new chief minister of Delhi, in New Delhi, India, Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015. Kejriwal and the party he created routed the country's best-funded and best-organized political machine and dealt an embarrassing blow to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

"Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory." George S. Patton

Not too many days ago, Prime Minister Narendra Modi was heard prophesising: Result aaney do, doodh ka doodh, paani ka paani ho jaayega. And that is exactly what has happened. The milk that had been simmering for long in Delhi, boiled and bubbled until it eliminated all the unwanted elements through its hot vapour...poof! Not even a speck remained.

The 'paani' of PM Modi's prophecy, drowned his party out.

What indeed was left was the milk - pure and unadulterated, with a thick layer of cream. And the feeling of 'aap'solute exhilaration.

Since long, Dilliwalas have been looking for a different kind of political establishment - the kind of establishment without muscle power, without manipulation and without hefty sums. The citizens of Delhi had started feeling somewhat disconnected with the government in recent years which led to resentment and loss of trust.

Even though the Aam Aadmi Party had lost all the seven seats in the 2014 general elections, they did not lose hope but started working straight away. They organised themselves, worked out strategies, made a working plan. They met the electorate and tried to understand their problems. They did not focus on negative politics, instead, sought to understand what the ground level problems of the city were. And that is where they scored. Smart cities, a la Shanghai, is not what the common man wants. He wants the basics first, and that is what the new party offered him, among other things.

And then, 'Muffler Man' apologised for his past mistakes in each and every of his 110 public meetings across the city, and promised not to repeat them. His humility was touching and the very magnanimous Dilliwalas pardoned him and restored their faith in him once more. The connect with the Aam Aadmi grew stronger by the day.

All the while BJP kept riding the high horse, looking down upon the rival party, spewing venom at its opponents and generally taking Delhi's junta for granted. In its vision document, it even referred to people from North Eastern states as 'immigrants'. Alienation was inevitable.

An election-charged Delhi watched the jamboree, tch-tched at the abuses, listened with renewed hope at freebies and subsidies offered, development manifesto discussed and, finally, after making an informed choice, came out grinning from the polling booths to happily click selfies of an inked finger. The fate of the city was sealed.

K...K...Kiran Bedi had a victory speech ready she wouldn't let go off. With supreme confidence she started off by thanking all her supporters and well-wishers and ended up by saying it was the party's defeat and not her's. Huh? She made another faux pas when she reiterated in all innocence that, "BJP didn't take any money from me for contesting the elections." Which means to say that... ok, lets leave it to the BJP to deal with that. After all, unka internal mamla hai.

Arvind Kejriwal, the hero of the moment, is the cynosure of all eyes. He should know that aapsolute mandate means aapsolute responsibility. In his own words, "It's scary." But he has a team of solid workers along with him, competent professionals with politically viable people and a well chartered plan. "We can make Delhi a city that the rich and poor will be equally proud of," he said in his victory speech.

His pet project is bijli-paani."Water," he had said, while speaking on a television show, "should not be charged." "It is a basic requirement for life and it is the government's responsibility to provide it free of cost. Can you charge for air?" Other goodies on the card are 20 new colleges, 2 lakh public toilets, 47 fast-track courts, 5000 new buses, 8 lakh jobs and free Wi-Fi across the city, besides 30,000 beds in hospitals.

This leaves the sceptics wondering if AAP has worked out the economics of their promises. Has the AAP bitten off more than they can chew? Are their targets idealistic and unrealistic or are they indeed workable? Only time will tell.

As of now, AAP has promised to change the political culture of the country and to develop a new political model and this is the biggest challenge for them. After all, leadership is not about the next election, it's about the next generation.

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