74% in favour, 'Mango Man' to be Delhi's new CM

With a bag full of promises and a little time in hand, the road ahead for the party will not be an easy one


Jasleen Kaur | December 23, 2013

Biting the bullet: Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi`s new CM, took the `aam aadmi`s car` – a Maruti WagonR – to meet Delhi governor on Dec 23. A photo of the bureaucrat-turned-crusader during the election campaign.
Biting the bullet: Arvind Kejriwal, Delhi`s new CM, took the `aam aadmi`s car` – a Maruti WagonR – to meet Delhi governor on Dec 23. A photo of the bureaucrat-turned-crusader during the election campaign.

The two weeks of political drama of ‘pehle AAP’ to form the government finally came to an end on Monday morning – a week before the year gives way to a new one. Ending days of speculation, riducle, scorn and criticism of being the 'Congress's B-team', the debutant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) formally staked claims to form the government in Delhi on December 23.

The party’s top leaders met at Arvind Kejriwal's residence in Ghaziabad and analysed the results of a week-long referendum through SMS, email, and also from public meetings conducted over the weekend. After which Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia addressed the press conference.

“Aam Aadmi Party has decided to stake claim to form the government in Delhi. I am going to meet Lieutenant Governor in this regard to inform him about the party's decision,” Kejriwal said.

AAP leader Manish Sisodia declared that Arvind Kejriwal will be the chief minister and said, “74% people in Delhi favoured AAP forming a government. 257 out of 280 public meetings have been in favour of AAP forming the government.”

Significantly, while Kejriwal and his party has made a list of promises, the new  CM will have a very small window to work on most of them. The model code of conduct would be in place once the dates for national elections are announced. In that case, no government can announce any new programmes or initiatives. With the Lok Sabha expected to be held in May, the announcement could come any time in March, which means AAP will have to show at least some change in the next couple of months to keep the voters’ faith alive.

Here are four issues that AAP could work on in this small January-February window:

1. End of red beacon days

The party has insisted that it will end the ‘[VIP culture’ in the national capital by not allowing the use of red beacon and hooters on vehicles. No AAP minister will ride in “a lal batti car”, or stay in the traditional bungalows allotted to ministers, the idea being to bring them at par with the aam aadmi.

2. Bijli and paani

The party has pledged to reduce water and electricity bills, which has been described as impractical by the outgoing Congress government. It has vowed to halve the power bills and conduct an audit of electricity distribution companies, which are accused of overcharging consumers. The party has also promised to provide 700 litres of free water to every household.

3. Jan Lokpal

A strong Jan Lokpal bill, which has been promised from day one by the party, would be passed soon. It would investigate the cases against BJP and Congress leaders.

4. Swaraj, or more statehood powers for Delhi

A swaraj or self rule has been promised by the party to promote direct democracy into action. Through neighbourhood meetings would get the power to decide on policies. The party decided to form the government only after holding such referendums across the city.

The BJP emerged the single largest party in the Delhi elections result earlier this month but the party did not have a majority and refused to form the government. AAP, which came second with 28 seats, was invited by Lieutenant Governor Najeeb Jung to form the government.

The Congress, which was reduced to eight seats, had offered to support AAP to help it meet the numbers required for a majority. AAP had sought time to sought people's opinion on that.

Kejriwal, an anti-corruption crusader and a former bureaucrat, came into limelight when he teamed up with activist Anna Hazare to demand the anti-corruption Lokpal Bill in 2011. Their demands went unheeded and they were challenged by senior Congress leader Kapil Sibal to join the political system it to cleanse it from within.

Kejriwal then launched the Aam Aadmi Party in November 2012.

But the party’s rise has not been that easy. In the last one year, Kejriwal and his party faced sharp criticism and reactions from the established political parties. Former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit had once said that the AAP is “not even a contender” and the BJP did not consider it as a serious competitor.

The party had a tough time in countering allegations for its fund-raising process, through which it managed to raise nearly 20 crores through small donations.  A sting was also released less than two weeks before the polling date, which claimed that some AAP candidates had agreed to accept funds without showing them in their official accounts.

But the results declared on December 8 changed the face of political system in the national capital forced the traditional parties to accept the public mandate to bring in the change.

The BJP refused to form the government and the AAP took the democracy at the door step of Aam Aadmi before making any final decision. It was a picture never seen before in India political system.

Now it is time for the party to deliver what it has promised. With a bag full of promises and a little time in hand, the road ahead for the party will not be an easy one.



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