Prof. Kamal Chenoy
AAP promised a new, pro-people politics. It went astray in the Delhi Assembly after 49 days in office, in which it had reduced electricity and water charges for the poor and lower middle class. But this was also marked by an FIR against Reliance for a proposed gas price hikes moved by AAP, respected senior bureaucrats (retd.), and a former Naval chief. This unprecedented attack led to a counter attack by Reliance’s well wishers who facilitated a BJP-Congress alliance in the Assembly, sharply reducing AAPs room for manoeuvre, which led to the CM’s resignation which played into the BJP-Congress’ axis hands. This great mistake has been apologised for, but the upper middle class and the rich are still estranged from AAP.
After this episode, it is incumbent for AAP to be a bit more restrained in its behaviour, especially because it is repeatedly termed ‘anarchist’. The voluntary arrest by Kejriwal was a protest against the alleged corruption by Nitin Gadkari, which is perfectly legitimate. Since the claim by a section of AAP for a chance to form a government in Delhi has leaked, it should be noted that there was an overwhelming rejection of this effort by the AAP bodies.
Is AAP on its way out? Fighting its first general election, AAP won 1.13 crore votes. In Delhi, where the BJP swept all 7 Lok Sabha seats, AAP increased its its vote base to 27.2, 4 lakh more than it secured in the assembly elections, and about one-third of the total votes polled. Strikingly, AAP has emerged as the main challenger to the BJP in Delhi, at the same time dislodging the Congress whose vote share has slumped to a mere 15.1%. In this situation, AAP must consolidate, and not open up new fronts, alienating the middle classes and the media. The Delhi assembly elections will come at a time suitable for the ruling dispensation. We must use our assets carefully especially since financial flows have dropped. There is much to do, and little time.
(Kamal Chenoy is a Professor at SIS, JNU. This article is reproduced from his facebook post.)