Anti-Corruption Party Forms Delhi Government
Dec. 23 – India’s newest political party, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP or Common man party), has ended several days of uncertainty by successfully forming a government in Delhi state.
The AAP, which made its debut this year running on an anti-corruption platform, took the Indian political scene by storm last month when it claimed 28 out of 70 legislative seats in the Delhi elections.
The ruling Congress Party conversely suffered heavy losses in three state elections and narrowly lost in a third, while the BJP – the primary opposition party – made major gains in all four states. In Delhi, the Congress Party claimed a mere eight seats.
While the AAP initially refused to form a government with either the BJP or Congress Party, who it views as compromised by corruption, the Congress Party’s eight legislators ultimately offered the AAP their support – thereby allowing the debutant party to form a government.
The leader of the AAP and future chief minister of Delhi, Arvind Kejriwal, saw himself propelled from tax official to political celebrity virtually overnight.
At 45 years old, Mr. Kejriwal is set to be Delhi’s youngest chief minister in history, defeating three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit by more than 22,000 votes last month.
Originally a mechanical engineer from IIT-Kharagpur, Mr. Kejriwal joined the Indian Revenue Service in 1995 as a tax official. Six years later, in 2001, he left his post to team up with activist Anna Hazare to embark upon a career as an anti-corruption campaigner – successfully demanding the passing of the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill last week.
Unlike his political peers, Kejriwal campaigns with no security and utilizes the same small donation tactics popularized by US President Barack Obama in the 2012 election.
Supporters of the AAP wield brooms and white caps to symbolize the party’s platform of anti-corruption, and the cleansing India’s political establishment.
“The broom symbolizes a clean sweep of India’s rotten politics; the white Gandhi cap connects India to an era when we had a politics of honesty and a politics of public service,” he said in an interview last month.
Kejriwal’s nickname, mango man, stems from an outburst from Congress chief Robert Vadra that the AAP was a “mango people in a banana republic.”
Formed around the sole agenda of anti-corruption, the AAP’s unwillingness to work with either the Congress Party of BJP presented it with a complex situation when trying to form a government in Delhi without a majority.
As pressure increased upon the AAP to form government, the AAP mobilized more than 2.5 million voters around Delhi this week to express their opinion on whether compromising with parties it touted as ‘compromised by corruption’ would be acceptable.
Holding more than 270 meetings across 70 constituencies to ascertain supporters’ opinion on the matter, the AAP was able to confirm that its supporters overwhelmingly preferred the AAP form a government through compromise.
As India’s national elections inch ever-closer, the only thing for certain is that the AAP will likely continue to turn heads in India’s political and social establishment.
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