Not a long time ago, Arvind Kejriwal, then known as a fiery anti-corruption crusader, had announced his entry into politics at a press conference in New Delhi. That day, he had announced his intention to introduce a new kind of political discourse in the country. Naturally, it was brushed off by many. A party that Kejriwal started with a motley group of supporters in 2012 today reached its zenith when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) swept across the national capital winning a mandate that none would have ventured to guess and equally demolishing two established national parties. From a party which struggled to maintain a running cadre of workers, today its volunteers have filled the streets of Delhi.
Barring a whitewash in the 2014 general elections, what has worked for the AAP is its continued commitment to the fight against corruption and its affinity to stick to local issues. The entire election campaign has seen the AAP workers maintaining a close rapport with residents in each constituency and conducting ‘mohalla-sabhas’ (neighbourhood meetings) — something which both the Congress and BJP failed to do. While the BJP focused much of its energy on why Kejriwal ran away from power in 2013, the AAP leader stuck to the local issues and provided solutions to the problems of every day Delhiites.
The support of the youth cannot be separated from the AAP’s landslide win. While many of Delhi’s youth sang praise for Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2014 general elections, the same youth supported Kejriwal en-masse this time. Impromptu dances and flash mobs were a highlight of the AAP campaign. Kejriwal’s promises of free wi-fi and employment opportunities were aimed at garnering youth support.
But more than anything, it has been the combination of Kejriwal’s rather charismatic leadership and a positive campaign that the party ran on the basic issues of ‘bijli, paani and sadak’ (power, water and roads) which propelled its success in these elections. Accompanied by slick marketing and out-of-the-box ideas like impromptu radio spots, it was evident right from the start that the AAP was making rapid inroads into every community.
Today, Kejriwal and his 66 MLAs have the right to celebrate. But from tomorrow onwards, their work begins to satisfy and fulfill the huge promises that the party have made to Delhi voters. Their mandate is massive, but so are the expectations of them. Kejriwal will do well to remember that.