With the Delhi elections announced on 7th Feb 2015, the atmosphere is getting charged up. Like a diligent student, Aam Aadmi Party has been preparing for this since quite some time now, holding rallies, Delhi Dialogues, beefing up their organisation polling booth upwards. Their candidates in all the 70 constituencies have been announced too, well in advance of BJP and the newly awakened Congress. It is a make or break situation for AAP, or is it?
Does AAP have a chance of gaining a majority in Delhi this time around? With BJP leading the race in all the television surveys, it seems like an uphill task. Congress seems to have admitted defeat even before the battle began, with Sheila Dixit calling AAP a ‘natural ally’ and vouching to support it, in case there is a hung assembly (God forbid).
One could argue that the ground reality reflects the beginning of the ebb of ‘Modi wave’, with around 35,000 people attending his rally on Ramlila grounds on 10th Jan, when the expected numbers were around a lakh or more With the BJP unit of Delhi lacking lustre, and a formidable leadership figure missing, its prospects in the upcoming elections could further weaken. Aam Aadmi Party, on the other hand, claims that its CM candidate Arvind Kejriwal, has a mass appeal. They have a blueprint ready for Delhi, with free WiFi, CCTV cameras, student loans guaranteed by the government, new schools and colleges and so on, while not deviating from its main plank of anti-corruption.
Endless obituaries have been written on Aam Aadmi Party by many. Even before it won 28 seats in the historic Delhi Assembly elections of 2013, leaders across parties wrote them off, only to bite their tongues later. The Lok Sabha elections of 2014 gave them another chance to brush away AAP, after it managed to win only 4 seats in the state of Punjab. But Arvind Kejriwal resurrected himself and the party, despite the bickering and people leaving. Now AAP is back in the battle, with newfound freshness, rising above all the criticism, genuine as well as ‘manufactured’.
In their private realms, many experts secretly want AAP to win, even though they may not explicitly support it. Eminent historian Ramchandra Guha, in his interview to Karan Thapar, quoted that AAP will be a formidable force in the next decade or so, with Congress making its way out. Karan Thapar, for those who know him for his combative style, chose not to argue, a feat rare of him.
Shiv Visvanathan, a self-professed social nomad, and a well-known columnist, in his various articles over time, has highlighted the significance of AAP, while never ceasing to reprimand its errors. “There is also a deeper reason to bet on AAP. The Bharatiya Janata Party won, but its only achievement was to defeat the Congress. It was AAP that acted like a true startup with fresh ideas of what is the political.”, he says in one of his recent articles.
Om Thanvi, editor Jansatta, on a debate on Rajya Sabha TV, admitted that only AAP is a party with strong ethical foundation, and with the guts to file an FIR against the might of the Ambanis, while also admitting that he had no allegiance to the party.
AAP has arrived. In an atmosphere of disquiet, communal undertones and crony capitalism, AAP is a ray of hope. That something is possible. In the hush hush of the aftermath of the Modi victory, where let alone the freedom of expression, even an attempt to express is thwarted at the first notice, and any dissent is looked down upon. In an environment where cheerleading equates journalism, selfies are replacing tough questions, the trend is tilting towards authoritarianism. One may or may not agree with the prediction by former Supreme Court judge, Markandeya Katju of a second Emergency in the near future, the need for AAP in the current scenario cannot be denied. It is probably for this reason that he also predicts a victory for AAP in the Delhi elections.
Yogendra Yadav, in one of his interviews after Lok Sabha elections , had said that he was not worried about booth rigging or losing, but was more anxious about the whole climate in which some white collared experts, under the garb of independent opinion, shaped the mindset of the electorate, to the advantage of a particular leader and party.
There is hardly any difference between such experts and the paid trolls on the social network, who make their living pouncing on any statements made against their leader, with vile. What starts on twitter spills on the streets as it did outside Madison Square Gardens, where the so called NRI professionals clashed with Rajdeep Sardesai, (known for his questions post Godhra riots) during Modi’s visit to US.
As opposed to these paid experts, trolls and volunteers of BJP, the AAP engine is fueled by the selfless leaders, volunteers and members, who are ever eager to contribute to its cause in any way possible, be it money, groundwork or holding up AAP banners, rain or shine.
Well one cannot say that these volunteers are without intent. The video of an AAP volunteer went viral, where he says he joined AAP for his children to have a better future. He narrates his tale of how he lost his mom because the nurse wouldn’t connect the oxygen cylinder unless he paid the next installment of bribe, and he couldn’t pay any more as he ran out of money.
AAP also taught people to question. It is difficult to forget how an AAP volunteer argued and questioned Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi on a television debate, despite the BJP leader calling him names. It is all these volunteers, who want AAP to win, and rightly so.
While the matter at hand is the Delhi elections, and the whole focus is riveted on it, AAP needs to look beyond. What if AAP does not get a majority, or form the government in Delhi? Even so, it is definitely going be the major opposition party, considering the present status of Congress and its inability to win more seats. Its promise of alternative politics will still be valid. Narendra Modi would still get sleepless nights, with an opponent, right in his backyard, questioning his ‘Ordinance Raj’
If Aam Aadmi Party wins, it will be a beginning of a new chapter. It will get an opportunity to prove its mettle, set Delhi as an example, serve the people as it claims on every given occasion. Fortune favours the brave they say. But those who put in efforts, write their own fortune. Its AAP’s turn this time around.
By: Manasi Gandhi