Originally Published 2013-12-30 12:33:21 Published on Dec 30, 2013
It is now clear that Aam Aadmi Party will be the major contender in the Lok Sabha elections in the first quarter of 2014 and would give all other veteran parties like the Congress and the BJP a real challenge. The AAP could even halt the march of Narendra Modi towards Delhi.
Rise of the common man: The changing dynamics of Indian politics
" The rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its assumption of office in Delhi marks an epoch-making event in the political life of India. It is not coincidental that it should have happened after the decisive defeat of the Congress in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Delhi. The setback for the Congress in Delhi was also shared by the BJP, which also failed to emerge with a majority of seats.

The Congress has been in power at the Centre almost continuously from 1947. It assumed many forms and in the last phase, it was UPA-I and UPA-II, whose term is coming to an end early next year, whether it can again emerge with a working majority appears doubtful.

The UPA government was charged with many acts of omission and commission. Corruption and non-governance were the universal accusations against Congress-led government in the past 10 years.

Political events in the recent years have been undergoing important changes. The arrival of Anna Hazare on the political scene was the beginning of an earth tremor in Indian politics.

In his Intelligence Bureau Endowment Lecture on December 19, President Pranab Mukherjee said citizens' movements spearheaded by social activists and NGOs had added a new dimension to the democratic structure by exerting pressure on the government to pass key legislations that are in public interest.

The President's address came only a day after both Houses of the Parliament approved the Lokpal Bill, in recognition of Anna Hazare's principal demand. The Lokpal Bill, which had been hanging fire for 46 years, has now become an act of law. Whether it would usher in greater accountability in the administration and effective control of corruption remain to be seen.

The Aam Aadmi Party of Arvind Kejriwal is the bye-product of Anna Hazare's movement. The Aam Aadmi Party could impress the educated and the middle class of Delhi's urban population and they opted for the Aam Aadmi Party as the instrument of managing power in Delhi. It was no doubt due to their belief that the new political outfit would bring about a welcome change from the routine politics marked by corruption and misgovernance.

The Aam Aadmi Party decided to form the government after ascertaining the views of the people of Delhi through a referendum. Having resorted to referendum method, even at the basic step of forming the government, the Aam Aadmi Party is expected to follow similar methods in running the administration.

The Congress acted with considerable perception in pledging full support to Aam Aadmi Party for running the government. Thereby, it not only pre-empted the BJP from forming the government in Delhi but also delivered an extended message to Narendra Modi that in swaying the public opinion, he has competition in the form of Aam Aadmi Party.

The Aam Aadmi Party has already announced that it would contest the elections in the states in the coming months. In Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party also announced an 18-point programme for catching the imagination of the people. These are giving 700 litres of water free for the every household, reducing the electricity bill by 50 per cent, reducing fee structure of the private schools, regularisation of unauthorised colonies, etc. Kejriwal also said his ministers will stay in ordinary accommodation like flats, shunning the sprawling bungalows. Also, there will be no red lights on the cars of the ministers.

Arvind Kejriwal announced that the oath-taking ceremony would take place at the Ramlila Maidan. While forming the government, Kejriwal said delivering on their promises would ultimately be beneficial for the Aam Aadmi Party in the next General Election.

It is now clear that Aam Aadmi Party will be the major contender in the Lok Sabha elections in the first quarter of 2014 and would give all other veteran parties like the Congress and the BJP a real challenge.

It is significant that Kejriwal defeated CM Sheila Dikshit in her New Delhi constituency and eventually displaced her as the Chief Minister of Delhi. A veteran of 15 years over Delhi political affairs and administration, Sheila Dikshit failed to read the several indicators, which would have warned her of the drift in Delhi political affairs and mood.

When Arvind Kejriwal drove to meet the Lt Governor of Delhi, along with his colleagues, to inform him regarding their preparedness to form the government with support of the Congress, they received enthusiastic applause from the people all along the streets.

The Congress has now announced that its support to the Aam Aadmi Party was not unconditional. All the same, the UPA Government should be cautious in not giving the impression to the people that having unwillingly allowed the Aam Aadmi Party government for Delhi, they were waiting for an opportunity to pull them down with some excuse or the other.

If the Aam Aadmi Party could acquit themselves with credibility and demonstrates their ability to give good administration, there is no doubt that it will be able to secure the support of the people in their contest in the Haryana Assembly Election and later in 2014 for the parliamentary elections.

A former Cabinet Secretary K.M. Chandrasekhar has suggested that Arvind Kejriwal should ask for Delhi being full-fledged state government with control over the police and land. A former Cabinet Secretary should know that it is unlikely that the Union Government would agree to such devolution of power. It may lead to a needless clash between the Centre and Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal should, therefore, concentrate on deliverables in administration and other allied matters.

It is not clear if the leadership of the Congress considered all aspects before promising support to the Aam Aadmi Party in forming the government in Delhi. It could, on the other hand, prove to be an intelligent step to have been taken. The Congress party, in any case, was not in the reckoning in forming the government in Delhi. On the other hand, in supporting the Aam Aadmi Party, it could successfully prevent the BJP in forming the government in Delhi. It could even prove to be a step in preventing the march of Narendra Modi towards Delhi.

(The writer is an Advisor to Observer Research Foundation, Delhi, and a former Governor and chief of Intelligence Bureau)

Courtesy: The Tribune

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