Debut Party Strong Reason for Horsetrading-free Polls - The New Indian Express

Debut Party Strong Reason for Horsetrading-free Polls

Published: 15th December 2013 06:00 AM

Last Updated: 21st January 2014 04:00 PM

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of anti-corruption crusader Arvind Kejriwal has debunked the oft-held impression that in India candidates of modest means or those belonging to parties which are not loaded with funds cannot win parliamentary and Assembly elections.

AAP has shown how utterly exasperated the common man is with the hold of money and muscle power. Those elected on AAP ticket in Delhi this time were invariably men and women of modest means who spent a fraction of what the Congress and BJP candidates spent. What the AAP leadership tried to ensure was that they were endowed with idealism and a desire to make a difference.

There were not too many takers for AAP tickets, but the initial success of the AAP experiment and the nascent party’s newly revealed plans to jump into the fray in many states for the Lok Sabha polls in May next year is leading to a deluge of aspirants already. That poses a formidable challenge to the party to maintain its basic character—the sense of honesty and integrity of its representatives that sets them apart from other politicians.

It perhaps is too early to form a judgment that AAP is here to stay and that it would confound pessimists again in the parliamentary elections as it did in the Delhi Assembly elections. But it is clear that the task is not completely beyond reach.

The decadent political culture that prevails today cannot last forever. There is always some light at the end of any tunnel, but whether it is Kejriwal whom fate has chosen as a messiah of change or it will be someone else in the future, only time will tell.

AAP would need to make its choices prudently. By refusing to have a coalition with either the Congress or BJP in Delhi, it has opened up the possibility of a fresh Assembly election, perhaps simultaneously with the Lok Sabha polls. This would strain its meagre resources considerably, but if it compromises on its principles by accepting tainted money for the elections it would be pounced upon by entrenched interests who are waiting to puncture its credibility in the eyes of the people.

The right course for it would be to stick to its principles, to strive to win 40 to 50 Lok Sabha seats through focused attention on some constituencies chosen for their naked display of money and muscle power by their rivals, and then to catalyse a partial clean-up of the system by setting the right example.

It was indeed refreshing to see how the moral high ground that AAP was perched on prevented the party that won the highest number of seats—the BJP with 32—from horse-trading and manipulation to cobble together a majority. In the past, both the Congress and BJP have thought nothing of whisking away legislators to a hill station or resort and wining and dining them to keep the rival party from poaching. This time around, however, there was neither any bid to poach nor any attempt to keep the flocks together. While part of this was due to the nature of the mandate, a strong reason was that AAP was incorruptible and therefore a check on others.

In a sense, had the elections catapulted AAP to power, the cynics who say that the fledgling party can only make promises and cannot redeem them could have been proved wrong. Alternatively, AAP would have exposed itself once for all. But it was in the nature of the mandate that government-formation had its difficulties. As things stand, we will have to wait to see how the AAP story unfolds further and whether it proves gullible or not.

Kanwar is a senior journalist

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