Originally Published 2014-03-01 09:46:14 Published on Mar 01, 2014
Notwithstanding the fact that Arvind Kejriwal had to resign as Delhi Chief Minister because he could not get through the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Assembly and BJP and Congress accusation that Kejriwal quit after creating an excuse for doing so, Kejriwal and AAP have not lost their popularity among the people of Delhi.
Breaking from traditional politics: AAP adds new dimensions to the Indian polity
" The Aam Admi Party is setting up new trends in the Indian polity with new dimensions. Arvind Kejriwal founded his party on unorthodox lines with populism as a mission and motivating force. After the Assembly elections in Delhi, even though AAP did not get a sufficient number to form a government, the Congress with its eight members enabled Kejriwal to form the government. He was sworn in as Chief Minister by the Lt-Governor at Ram Lila Maidan. It was only a beginning of an unorthodox style of his functioning.

Soon one of his ministers, Somnath Bharti, carried out a raid on his own at Khirkee Extension, and also complained against a few policemen for not carrying out his instructions to act against some foreign women, allegedly indulging in drugs and prostitution. While the Lt-Governor promised to take action after a due inquiry, Kejriwal did not wait and went ahead with a dharna on the road near Rail Bhawan. He sat on dharna for a whole night and provided ample TV footage the next morning when his wife came with breakfast and served him on the road. He abused the Home Minister calling him corrupt because the ex-Home Secretary said so and later ended the drama after the Army, which was in charge of the Republic Day parade, threatened to move in to clear up the road.

Kejriwal subsequently announced his intention to bring in the Jan Lokpal Bill, which would be stronger than the Lokpal Act of the Centre. On a reference by the Lt-Governor, the Solicitor General held that before it introduction in the Assembly, the Jan Lokpal Bill would have to get the clearance of the Home Ministry, but Kejriwal remained unconvinced.

Subsequently, the Law Ministry also declared that the Bill could not be brought in by the state Assembly since there was already a Central Lokpal Act. However, Kejriwal did not back down on his proposal. The Bill could not be introduced since Lt-Governor Jung wrote to the Delhi Assembly Speaker that the Bill could not be tabled without his approval. Conceding defeat, Kejriwal submitted his resignation to the Lt-Governor and recommended the dissolution of the Assembly and holding of fresh polls. The Lt-Governor, however, recommended that President's rule be imposed and the Assembly held in suspended animation.

Prashant Bhushan, a senior AAP leader, contended that if the BJP and the Congress did not stake a claim to form a government, there was no case for imposing President's rule. The LG, according to him, should dissolve the Assembly and order fresh elections. The Supreme Court has now asked the Centre to submit its reply in two weeks. The Supreme Court asked if it was mandatory for the LG to dissolve the House immediately and recommend fresh elections or he had other alternatives such as the recommendation to impose President's rule. Thereby, AAP has made one more mark in its political journey for having raised a valid constitutional question.

Kejriwal has announced that his party will contest about 200 Lok Sabha seats and announced his party's candidates for many high-profile constituencies. Kejriwal thinks that he has a "national mission" to end corruption in the country.

All the same, the Indian polity has already been sufficiently influenced by the tactics and methods of AAP. Even Narendra Modi, who is no stranger to inventing new methods of election propaganda, has now announced that his volunteers will start road-side discussions over tea all over the country. It is strange that the BJP's prime ministerial candidate should copy AAP tactics.

Kejriwal also announced the setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to inquire into the 1984 riots in Delhi in which a number of Sikhs were killed after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. He promised that SITs would be set up to investigate 23,500 cases of rioting across the country if the party came to power at the Centre. He declared, "Wherever we are in power, whether at the Centre or in any state, we will get all riot cases registered and probed by SITs".

He said, "If even one case is solved and a senior leader of the party which instigated the riot is put behind bars, no further riots would take place in the country". He added that the two biggest problems facing the country are communalism and corruption. Neither the BJP nor the Congress has done anything for Hindus or Muslims. The parties are concerned only with their vote banks and not in solving the real problems of the affected communities.

Notwithstanding the fact that Kejriwal had to resign as Chief Minister because he could not get through the Jan Lokpal Bill in the Assembly and the accusation from the Congress and the BJP that Kejriwal quit after creating an excuse for doing so since he could not fulfil any of his major promises, Kejriwal and his party have not lost their popularity among the people of Delhi.

An opinion poll carried by a well-known TV channel indicated that 59 per cent of the people who were contacted had opted in favour of the Aam Admi Party and Kejriwal. An example of AAP's undiminished popularity is demonstrated by the fact that no less a person than Rajmohan Gandhi, a grandson of Mahatma Gandhi, has joined AAP and is contesting the elections on the party ticket.

The Aam Admi Party has a long way to go, carrying people's support. Time will tell whether its leaders are able to enter the Lok Sabha in adequate numbers and thereby preside over the nation's political destiny.

(The writer is an Advisor to Observer Research Foundation, Delhi)

Courtesy: The Tribune, March 1, 2014

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