What has been the most important event of 2013? Many in north India and in other parts of the country will single out the stupendous showing of the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi state assembly elections. The main point on its manifesto was to cleanse the political system and to eliminate the VIP culture that dominates every walk of life in the capital. These goals obviously appealed to a large section of the electorate. How else could virtual non-entities defeat established stalwarts?
Most of its supporters, and perhaps an equally large number of those who were watching from the sidelines, must have hoped that the AAP’s victory would have a salutary effect on Indian politics. Surely, the older generation politicians would now gauge the anger and disgust of the voters and change their ways in order to have a fighting chance of getting back their coveted positions in the Lok Sabha and state assemblies?
Of course, in order for any of this to happen, the AAP would have had to prove that it is a viable alternative, able to govern for a long time. Unfortunately, the AAP and its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, have failed to pass this litmus test. Kejriwal had declared more than once that he would resign if his government could not pass the Jan Lokpal bill sooner rather than later. His self-imposed deadline was unrealistic, since there seemed to be several legal hurdles that had to be crossed before the Delhi Assembly could even consider the bill. His attempt to table the bill was defeated and Kejriwal submitted his resignation.
Where does he go from here? In his resignation letter, he recommended that the Delhi assembly be dissolved and fresh elections be held as soon as possible. It is likely that the elections to the assembly will be held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections. Will the AAP come back to power? Perhaps the more important question is, should the AAP come back to power?
Consider the second question first. Consistency, though not prudence, demands that Kejriwal stick to his stand that he will resign again if the Jan Lokpal bill does not find its way into the statute books. But, even if the AAP wins an absolute majority in the state assembly, there is virtually no chance that it will have a sizeable presence in the Lok Sabha — every recent poll gives it only a handful of seats outside Delhi. So, in the best of scenarios for the AAP, …continued »