AAP: From A Movement To Power Play In Delhi: Tracing The Journey Of Five Years Of AAP - By: Kanishka Singh | New Delhi

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1. On November 26, a group of activists, led by Arvind Kejriwal, formed the Aam Aadmi Party (The Common Man’s Party). The underlying philosophy behind founding the party was a fight for ‘Swaraj’ or self-rule.



2. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had convincingly defeated Sheila Dikshit in her stronghold, thus announcing the arrival of AAP.



3. The party’s support base swelled after it announced a populist manifesto with promises of free water, electricity, wifi, statehood to Delhi, the passage of Lokpal Bill.



4. The next episode in the party was its much publicised and lengthy tussle with Delhi’s Lt Governor Najeeb Jung. The Kejriwal government repeatedly claimed that the LG, the executive head of the government of NCT Delhi, was not allowing the government to function and alleged that this hold up was resulting in the AAP government taking the blame for Delhi’s woes.



5. AAP also alleged that the LG was doing the Centre’s bidding. The rocky relationship between the two key spokes of governance has polarised the public strongly as development works were taking a backseat.



6. Aam Aadmi Party, AAP, EVM tampering, EVM machines, EVM problem, arvind kejriwal, evm prototype, delhi assembly, saurabh bhardwaj, india news, indian express AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj demonstrated the hack of an EVM inside the Delhi Assembly accusing the BJP of rigging elections.



7. Though in subsequent elections fought on similar footings, it didn’t appear like the party had grown any weaker in the Capital. It won the Bawana Assembly bypoll by over 50,000 votes and performed admirably in East Delhi which was tipped to favour the BJP but came third in the Rajouri Garden bypoll.



8. Though AAP’s work in improving the education infrastructure in Delhi schools is visibly commendable. Novel projects like Mohalla clinics provided basic medical care for the poor. The next big step in the party’s journey is, of course, the Gujarat Assembly Election. Learning from its mistakes in the past, the party has fielded only 20 candidates so far. It is also looking to expand its base in poll-bound states like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.



FULL TEXT:



Five years after Arvind Kejriwal’s alternative politics project Aam Aadmi Party was founded, the tale of the political outfit is a mix of resounding success, dismal failures, bitter spats, infighting, a constant attempt to discredit the mainstream politics in the country.



Written by Kanishka Singh | New Delhi | Published: November 27, 2017 2:24 pm



Five years after Arvind Kejriwal’s alternative politics project Aam Aadmi Party was founded, the tale of the political outfit is a mix of resounding success, dismal failures, bitter spats, infighting, and a constant attempt to discredit the mainstream politics in the country.



On November 26, a group of activists, led by Arvind Kejriwal, formed the Aam Aadmi Party (The Common Man’s Party). The underlying philosophy behind founding the party was a fight for ‘Swaraj’ or self-rule.



AAP leaders and volunteers wore caps akin to those worn by yesteryears’ politicians with printed slogans like “Humein Chahiye Swaraj” (We want self-rule) and “Main hoon aam aadmi” (I am a common man) to highlight the fight between the political greenhorns and seasoned politicians. The fight was to usher in Lokpal and clean up the political system. With founders like Yogendra Yadav (sociologist), Shanti Bhushan and Prashant Bhushan (lawyers), Manish Sisodia (academic/journalist), Kejriwal (former bureaucrat and RTI activist), and more, it appeared that a people’s movement had metamorphosed into a political campaign but that was just the tip of the iceberg.



AAP’s first target was the Delhi Assembly election in 2013. Levelling a slew of corruption charges, Kejriwal and co set out to dethrone Sheila Dikshit as chief minister, a position she had held for 15 long years. It was during this campaign that AAP had come up with the idea of holding mohalla sabhas. Tha party promised to seek regular feedback from the public and accept suggestions on how the government should function.



Many joined the party as volunteers, pledged resources for the party; youth, elderly, businessmen, NRIs etc backed AAP to defeat the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party. Unlike other parties which distribute tickets to their members, AAP had sought applications from probable candidates for its consideration. Working out its office on Hanuman Road in Delhi’s Connaught Place, which was secured at a rent of Re 1, AAP posted notices outside its gates asking candidates to apply.



The party’s support base swelled after it announced a populist manifesto with promises of free water, electricity, wifi, statehood to Delhi, the passage of Lokpal Bill.



In the Delhi Assembly Elections 2013, AAP’s debut was more than impressive as the party bagged 28 out of the 70 seats, and finished behind the BJP that won 32 seats. After accepting the outside support extended by the Congress, which had won 7 seats, AAP came to power in Delhi with a minority government. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had convincingly defeated Sheila Dikshit in her stronghold, thus announcing the arrival of AAP.



However, failure to pass the Lokpal Bill prompted the entire government to resign in protest after 49 days in power. Kejriwal faced massive criticism from supporters for abandoning the post and Delhi went under Lt Governor’s rule.



Buoyed by the performance in Delhi, AAP turned toward the 2014 Lok Sabha Polls, an audacious move that would see the party struggle. The newly-formed party fielded over 400 candidates in the General Election. Kejriwal, AAP’s national convenor, fought BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and now Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Varanasi only to be dealt with a massive defeat. Meanwhile, in Amethi, poet-turned-politician Kumar Vishwas, the party’s next big bet, lost to Congress’ Rahul Gandhi and came third behind BJP candidate Smriti Irani.



In all, the party managed to secure four seats — all in Punjab. The party lost all seven seats in Delhi to the BJP, a surprise considering its strong showing in the assembly polls.



Pitfalls and damage control:



Despite taking the moral high ground, Kejriwal had lost touch with his vote bank. The mohalla sabha’s were a thing of the past. Infighting and expulsions caused concern among voters who had pledged their faith in the new party. After concerted efforts to win back support from the people of Delhi, the party secured a historic victory in the 2015 Assembly elections. Restricting the BJP to a meagre two seats, AAP won 67 out of 70 seats. The Congress, meanwhile, was nowhere in the picture. However, founding members Yogendra Yadav, psephologist and key strategist for the 2015 election, and Prashant Bhushan were soon expelled.



AAP’s internal fued was out in the open and it was hurting the party’s image, with many fearing a split.



The party’s internal Lokpal expelled several senior leaders for a variety of reasons, with Kejriwal earning the reputation of a leader who wanted complete control of the party.



The next episode in the party was its much publicised and lengthy tussle with Delhi’s Lt Governor Najeeb Jung. The Kejriwal government repeatedly claimed that the LG, the executive head of the government of NCT Delhi, was not allowing the government to function and alleged that this hold up was resulting in the AAP government taking the blame for Delhi’s woes.



AAP also alleged that the LG was doing the Centre’s bidding. The rocky relationship between the two key spokes of governance has polarised the public strongly as development works were taking a backseat.



Names of a few leaders also figured in controversies like holding forged academic degrees, domestic violence, provoking assault on foreigners as well as sexual harassment. All these issues plagued the party and were exploited in good measure by the Opposition.



In 2016, when air pollution in Delhi hit alarming levels, the party implemented the odd and even vehicle rationing scheme and repeated it shortly after. The party claimed its decision helped the situation in Delhi. The move drew criticism at the start but was later appreciated by a large amount of people.



However, AAP’s woes returned soon. As many as 21 AAP MLAs appointed as parliamentary secretaries by the CM were named in an office-of-profit controversy, inviting judicial intervention. Several MLAs were named in high-level cases too. Apart from that, as Delhi suffered crisis in health, sanitation, transit etc, a committee chaired by former Comptroller and Auditor General V.K. Shunglu probed files and the committee’s report found corruption and nepotism practiced by members of AAP.



AAP’s political stock was falling and after being discredited on governance, the party looked to expand its footprints in other states. Assembly polls in Punjab and Goa were the next targets. AAP was seeking to exploit the anti-incumbency in the SAD-BJP ruled state of Punjab. During the initial stage of the poll campaign, several opinion polls indicated that AAP could win a large number of seats. However, much of the political support fizzled out due to a lack of clarity on the CM candidate, Kejriwal’s denial of fighting in Punjab and infighting in the state unit. Congress emerged victorious but AAP was the second largest party — a success, nonetheless. In Goa, many AAP candidates had to forfeit deposits in what was a poor performance and a failed attempt at redemption.



The following municipal elections were also dominated by the BJP with the party losing around 22 per cent of the votes from the 2015 state polls. But it became the main Opposition party in all three municipal corporations in Delhi. The defeat in state polls, as well as municipal elections, was attributed to alleged tampering in electronic voting machines. AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj even demonstrated in the Delhi Assembly how an EVM could be hacked to rig polls.



Aam Aadmi Party, AAP, EVM tampering, EVM machines, EVM problem, arvind kejriwal, evm prototype, delhi assembly, saurabh bhardwaj, india news, indian express AAP MLA Saurabh Bhardwaj demonstrated the hack of an EVM inside the Delhi Assembly accusing the BJP of rigging elections.



Though in subsequent elections fought on similar footings, it didn’t appear like the party had grown any weaker in the Capital. It won the Bawana Assembly bypoll by over 50,000 votes and performed admirably in East Delhi which was tipped to favour the BJP but came third in the Rajouri Garden bypoll.


Though AAP’s work in improving the education infrastructure in Delhi schools is visibly commendable. Novel projects like Mohalla clinics provided basic medical care for the poor. The next big step in the party’s journey is, of course, the Gujarat Assembly Election. Learning from its mistakes in the past, the party has fielded only 20 candidates so far. It is also looking to expand its base in poll-bound states like Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan.

Posted on Dec 10, 17 | 12:08 am