AAP: Beware, the underdog

The AAP’s stunning debut into Delhi’s electoral fray is proving to be a successful experiment of democracy

Souzeina Mushtaq Delhi 

The results of the Assembly Elections in Delhi this year have toppled the 15-year-old rule of Congress in Delhi, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) winning 32 seats and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) making a spectacular debut with 28 seats. 

As the election results clearly signaled a virtual wipeout of the Congress party, celebrations were galore outside the office of the BJP, which was leading the vote share. But it was Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP who stole the show. His nine-month-old party made a remarkable debut in the battle for the 70-member assembly. Civil servant turned activist Arvind Kejriwal emerged as a giant killer, defeating the three-time Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in her own New Delhi constituency by a margin of 25,864 votes. 

After registering his party symbol in September, Arvind Kejriwal had announced that he would fight from the New Delhi constituency, home turf of Dikshit, targeting her for the rising prices and corruption. On December 4, the poll day, Sheila Dikshit had claimed that Arvind Kejriwal or his party AAP was no competition. “Who is Arvind Kejriwal? What is AAP? Can you call it a party that can be compared to the Congress or the BJP? AAP is generally talked about because the gentleman and the party have a way of projecting themselves,” she had retorted once to a question from a reporter. 

But on December 8, Dikshit had to eat her words, as she accepted defeat and submitted her resignation to Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung. “I would like to thank everyone for their support. We will analyze what went wrong later,” a pensive Dikshit told reporters outside her house while declining to take questions. 

AAP activists celebrated with pomp outside many counting centres, and at the party main office in Connaught Place. Donning caps and waving spiky brooms, the member raised slogans expressing happiness. A visibly happy Kejriwal told a waiting media outside his office that the victory reflects the anger and unhappiness of the people. “It is not that people are in love with Arvind Kejriwal. People wanted an alternative and that is what they found in us,” he said in an interview. The AAP has ruled out an alliance with either the BJP or the Congress, yet, saying it will play the role of a “constructive opposition”. 

Celebrating the party win, supporters of the BJP burst firecrackers and distributed sweets outside their CM designate Harsh Vardhan’s Krishna Nagar residence in east Delhi. But Harsh Vardhan, too, has declined to form the government as his party is short of a clear majority.  “...Since I don’t have the magic number of 36, I really cannot be a part of the government formation in Delhi. We will prefer to sit in the opposition than indulge in any ‘horse trading‘,” he said.