India : surprise for all in Delhi Elections

26 Décembre 2013

The Indian capital city of Delhi is now the centre of significant turn of events in the political scenario. In the assembly elections held a few weeks back, Congress, which had been in power for 15 years in Delhi, suffered a humiliating defeat.

Credits -- AFP
Credits -- AFP
In the 70 member strong assembly, the Congress managed to win a mere eight. Though the BJP turned out to be the single largest party, they failed to get past the half-way mark. AAP (Aam Aadmi Party), a newbie in the fray surprised everyone by coming second with 28 seats. This led to a lot of uncertainty in Delhi. Even Sheila Dikshit the three time Chief Minister of Delhi suffered a defeat.

Adding more surprise to the scenario, BJP refused to take power and AAP is all set to form a government in Delhi. The convener of AAP, Arvind Kejriwal is set to become the youngest Chief Minister of Delhi. AAP is set to form the government with the Congress supporting them from outside.

History of AAP

AAP is a political party formed by the former civil servant, Arvind Kejriwal. The decision to form a political party was made after the protest demanding to pass strong anti-corruption law fell into the deaf ears of the incumbents. Kejriwal, back then, was with Anna Hazare, who had made the headlines as an anti-corruption crusader. Later, this movement named as India Against Corruption (IAC), slowly died away and Kejriwal parted ways with Anna Hazare after the latter was not supportive of a political movement. Several key leaders stayed behind Kejriwal.

The AAP was established a little over a year agoand they had brought out an agenda to be an alternative to BJP as well as Congress. Many political commentators did not consider AAP as a serious competent in the Delhi elections. ArvindKejriwal had also said firmly that he would contest from the constituency where Sheila Dikshit contests.

Unexpected results

The day of results brought in a surprise for everyone. AAP though confident of their performance did not expect such high number of votes in favour of them. The Congress suffered a humiliating defeat. However, BJP also had a setback; they could not form a government on their own, since AAP ate into some of their vote share as well. The BJP showed their reluctance in forming the government and preferred to step into the shoes of the opposing party in the Assembly. The onus now fell upon the newly formed AAP to form the government, being the second largest party despite falling short of seven seats to cross the half-way mark.They were given 10 days time to revert back to the governor with the required numbers. In the meantime, there were reports of the Lt. Governor of Delhi, Najeeb Jung, recommending a president’s rule in Delhi.

(The constitution of India allows for direct presidential rule in any state where the political scenario is unclear. In this case, the consideration of President’s rule was until a fresh round of elections). However, the Congress sent a letter to the Lt. Governorstating their support to AAP in forming the government.

Promises of AAP

AAP have promised a number of policies in their manifestos. Some of them were aimed at eliminating the elitism that Indian politicians have acquired. He aims to do away with big houses, heavy security and even red beacons on top of their cars.He is reported to have refused ‘Z’ category security offered to him by the Police Department. (‘Z’ category is the highest level of security offered in India by the police. It isusually given to top political leaders and leaders who have an imminent threat to life.)

He has also promised to make the national capital a safer place for women and improve helplines for them. One of his main promises was to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill at the earliest. This bill provides an anti-corruption ombudsman which the public can have easy access to. This was the pressing demand by the members of IAC during the agitation more than a year ago.

Ripples across political spectrum

The decision of Congress to back AAP has sent ripples across the political fraternity. Sections from the Congress party itself have registered their protests against this move. Their argument was that, “since the people of Delhi have not supported Congress to the extent of even an opposition party, they must step away from this government”. The BJP claimed AAP to be power hungry and that they have caved in to the support of Congress.

Despite all these claims pertaining to Kejriwal, the fact remains that this 44 year old former civil servant is set to become the youngest Chief Minister of Delhi. This, little-over-a-year old party has managed to upset those political parties which have been seasoned in politics for several years. Delhi is geographically small place and Kejriwal managed to woo the voters in a year, doing so for the oncoming Lok Sabha elections in 2014 would be a Herculean task. He may also not be as successful in the national level as he was in Delhi, atleast not yet. However, the party is gearing up for the Lok Sabha elections, optimistic about making a mark in it as well.