Yesterday Aam Aadmi Party declared that they would form a government in New Delhi with the help of outside support from Congress. Since Arvind Kejriwal has stepped into the political fray, he has been beset with criticisms left, right and center. First, Anna Hazare broke away from him, calling him power hungry, misusing Anna’s name and the legacy of his anti-corruption movement to propel himself to power. That must have hurt since Kejriwal keeps reaffirming his loyalty to Anna time and again, even after all the snubs. But Aam Aadmi Party surprised everyone – the voters, those who voted for him as well as those who did not, and both the major parties who had “brushed” aside him and his party’s “broom” as a nonentity, a small fry, a lightweight. Then when in the initial idealistic exuberance, he declared that he would support neither Congress nor BJP, he was accused as someone running away from his responsibilities. No, he said, we are not running away. We shall have a referendum by the general public and take their opinion whether to go with an outside support for Congress or not. And as it turns out, a majority of the people wanted him to take up the reigns of the national capital. After so many years of predictable politics, people are willing to experiment.
Last week, Mr Harsh Vardhan from BJP was on record saying AAP is running away from responsibility, and now that AAP has decided to take outside support from Congress, Mr Vardhan, thinking it better to change his stance completely so that he could attack again, now called Kejriwal power hungry. This does nothing but makes Mr Vardhan and his party look like a big fish which had food within its reach but dithered about snapping its jaw shut in time and let the food slip away. And now the big fish is really annoyed.
Congress, on its part, despite Sheila Dixit’s almost daily threats of “no unconditional support”, and claims of how AAP “sold dreams and misled people”, is looking like someone who has lost all influence in the national capital. In fact, Congress in New Delhi is in a bit of a spot. They don’t have numbers enough to create an influence or impediment over decision making, and they cannot afford to pull out too for fear of looking opportunistic as AAP can always blame the Congress for political brinkmanship and people will take Congress to task for playing political games, something which they cannot afford. So I don’t see Ms Dixit’s Congress clan posing much of a problem.
Like someone said, people of India are watching Mr Kejriwal and have more expectations from him than the Americans had from Obama. Surely, it won’t be easy for his party members, mostly from non-political background, to quickly get used to the system without getting overwhelmed by it, and tame and transform the beast into something simpler, cleaner and more efficient. The biggest challenge for Mr Kejriwal will be when he tries his hand at fielding clean candidates from all over the country. It’s easy to have an iron grip over the lever to control who comes into his organization at a New Delhi level, but at a national level, it will be close to impossible. It will be interesting to watch how Mr Kejriwal copes with such a scenario. But first, now that he has the power, let’s see how he performs on his debut.