AAP: Ruler, spoiler, kingmaker or self-destructor?

Last Updated: Mon, Dec 02, 2013 01:57 hrs

Had the Aam Aadmi Party been formed immediately after the 2011 August Kranti agitation with Anna Hazare’s blessings then they may have swept whatever elections they had faced. But such a thing has not happened and as time has progressed, AAP is looking like any other political party.

When the AAP was constituted, it sold itself as the party with a difference. (Anyone remember that this used to be the BJP tagline once upon a time?)

The first thing that has hit its chances is that Anna has been consistently been distancing himself from AAP and some time back was seen on TV expressing displeasure that they were still taking his name.

The most high-profile member after Anna was Kiran Bedi and even she has distanced herself from Kejriwal. The third big player on Anna’s team Prashant Bhushan has not endeared himself to the populace by making statements related to the independence of Kashmir.

In fact, apart from the distancing of Anna and Bedi, there also have been insinuations that Kejriwal is running his party in a dictatorial manner. That sounds like any other political party.

A young bright team of underdogs taking on a mighty establishment have a better chance of success if they stick together. In-fighting has resurfaced and the throwing of ink by a protestor at AAP members at a press conference is very bad press.

Initially the protestor was passed off as a BJP activist, but later it came to light that he has been closely associated with the Anna agitation in the last couple of years.

Critics of the AAP have dubbed the party a B-team of the Congress. This becomes all the more uncomfortable when current Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit does not rule out a post-poll alliance with AAP.

In fact things became bad when Kejriwal met the controversial Muslim cleric Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan when he was in Bareilly. Raza is infamous for his alleged fatwas. Kejriwal was blasted both from the likes of politician Subramanian Swamy and author Taslima Nasreen.

To make matters worse, Kejriwal was unrepentant and has charges of pseudo-secularism hurled against him.

The sting operation against Shazia Ilmi showed AAP in bad light and became ugly because they reacted to it in exactly the same way that any other political party might react, questioning the authenticity of the tapes and calling it a conspiracy.

AAP funding has been met with controversies. The manifesto they presented seemed to be more idealistic and practical and many voters are now having second thoughts.

The biggest drawback for AAP could be the withdrawal of Vijay Goel as the Chief Ministerial candidate by the BJP. Goel was extremely unpopular and would take the last place in most opinion polls. Even someone like activist Madhu Kishwar who strongly supports Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi said she would not vote for the BJP if Goel was standing.

That’s why early polls portrayed a direct fight between Dikshit and Kejriwal for the CM’s chair.

The BJP decided to introduce a dark horse into the equation in the form of Dr Harsh Vardhan and he seems to have made initial gains.The BJP has become the frontrunner again.

There is a strong anti-incumbency wave in Delhi and that initially looked to be split between the BJP and AAP. However with each passing day, AAP is looking like the Congress more and they may end up sharing the same mind space.

If that would happen, then the BJP would emerge as the clear winner.

However the most interesting thing will happen if there is a near-equal 3-way split between the BJP, Congress and AAP.

If the AAP choose to stay away from both parties, then the Assembly will be hung beyond repair and we may have re-lections.

Or AAP could play kingmaker. But whichever party they choose, they will be called a stooge of that particular party.

In fact while the best would be for AAP to get a majority, their second best option would probably be for one party to get a majority and for AAP to take the place of a vocal and belligerent Opposition.

It’s a tricky situation because their actions will affect their Lok Sabha chances in 2014.

So will AAP emerge triumphant on December 8? Will it spoil the chances of the Congress or the BJP? Or will it prop one of them up? Will they fall totally flat on their faces?

The possibilities are many!

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. 

He blogs here.