Kerala now officially has a fourth political front—in the form of an alliance between Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP and the corporate-backed Twenty20. Through this tie-up, the AAP is planning to spread its brand of welfare politics and hoping to make gains in a southern state. Last Sunday, while announcing the formation of People’s Welfare Alliance at a rally in Kizhakkambalam, the headquarters of the Twenty20 movement in Ernakulam district, Kejriwal spoke about the initiatives of his government in Delhi and how they helped the party win over Punjab. He spoke about the free electricity scheme and the strides made in public education and healthcare and promised similar reforms in Kerala. This is not the first time the AAP is eyeing Kerala. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the party fielded stalwarts like writer Sara Joseph and journalist Anita Pratap and won an impressive vote share. But squabbles among its local leaders and loss of focus led to a steady decline.
Kerala has been a laboratory of coalition politics; there are three major alliances led by the CPM, Congress and BJP. By stitching an alliance with a seven-year-old regional party that rules four panchayats and finished third in six Assembly seats in 2021, the AAP seems to have taken a step in the right direction. What might have connected both is the slew of welfare initiatives launched by Twenty20 in the Kizhakkambalam panchayat and the stubborn stand against corruption taken by the movement’s supremo and Kitex Group MD Sabu M Jacob.
While aiming big, what the AAP and Twenty20 should keep in mind is that copying the Delhi welfare model alone may not be enough to win in Kerala. The LDF government is also practising welfare politics and can boast of impressive achievements in the health, education and housing sectors. Besides, Kerala, which is in an acute financial crisis, won’t be the right place to practise subsidy politics. But one thing is sure—a section of Kerala’s population is aspiring for change. They are fed up with cronyism in government appointments, wastage of public money, bureaucratic apathy, unemployment, and authoritarianism of parties in power and their affiliates. Any platform that promises change will have to address these issues first and win people’s trust.