The country has just witnessed something remarkable and has been left wonderstruck. A fledgling political party, which was dismissed as insignificant by its political opponents, upset all calculations in the Delhi Assembly Elections. The results of the recently held elections to the five state assemblies may have offered hope and solace to the BJP in three states and to the Congress in one, but what has left everyone impressed is the fact that the Aam Aadmi Party did so well.
The credit for this should rightfully go both to Arvind Kejriwal and to the thousands of ordinary men and women from various parts of the country who believed in the cause and worked tirelessly on the streets of Delhi for more than two months. The debut performance of the AAP stunned the political pundits, shocked the political class and has brought a sense of hope to the common man.
But why is AAP's performance in a single state being perceived as such a significant development? Why is this milestone important for the nation? Why does making Indian democracy healthier matter now more than ever? The answer will be evident when one looks at the situation in the Indian polity as it has been till now.
Over the years, money power and even a criminal orientation have been commonly found among candidates contesting for public office, and some of them even seem to become more likely to win as a result of these qualities !! By extension, it is well known how slim one's chances are if one is clean, honest and does not have much money to contest the elections with. It is against this backdrop that we need to see the achievement of AAP and its significance.
The present reality demands some one like Arvind change requires people who do not only have conviction but are also ready to take the heat and dust of living those convictions. As he reaches out to others across India, he will surely understand that he needs to be more visibly democratic in order to build an effective coalition of like-minded people.
The Delhi results are also an indicator of the winds of change that are blowing; it is hope for a nation that is longing for transparency and good governance. Clean, honest and effective politics is something that the youth of the country are now seeing as possible and achievable. For that, one must thank not just the AAP, but also the Anna Hazare-led anti-corruption movement, the experiments of the Lok Satta party and other people's movements around the country. All of them served to ripen the issue of change and spur the demand for reforms in the political system of the country.
While some recent Supreme Court judgments serve to further facilitate this change, it is also important that all good and like-minded people come together to expand on the momentum built. We need to make sure that Delhi is not just a flash in the pan but also a harbinger of what is in store for the Indian polity and democracy. The next parliamentary elections would not just be an acid test for these values, but will turn out to be a watershed in Indian politics.
Some experts may argue that this is only an isolated phenomenon with Delhi being a mostly urban state and a smaller one than all others. But then the change that the urban voters in Delhi have ushered in . be it the rich, the working class or the middle class . has proven to be a game changer. The question that needs to be asked is not just 'will the rural voters follow suit?' but also, 'how can this fire be made to spread across the length and breadth of India?'
Many analysts on TV are viewing the developments merely as a consequence of public anger against the political class in Delhi. But we also need to appreciate the fact that there is a genuine desire for clean electoral politics across the board. This desire, driven by the demographics of a young India, needs to be capitalized on and reflected in the next parliamentary elections too.
I met Arvind a few months ago at the Bangalore launch of AAP . he exuded confidence and told me that the AAP would do exceedingly well in the Delhi elections. At that time, I felt that it was misplaced optimism. I must now confess that I am happy to have been proved wrong. I can also appreciate that his confidence stemmed from a correct assessment of the mood of the people in Delhi. This mood now needs to be turned into a national process. It needs to be translated into the call for action across India, especially in rural areas. It needs to be the tipping point in making India a healthy and vibrant democracy.
The AAP has also proved that personal connect matters a lot. Once people, especially the poor and the marginalized, are met and convinced about their need to participate in strengthening the democratic process, they demonstrate their conviction through the ballot box. The success of Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP lies in bringing that about.
Arvind is surely a master strategist and a passionate leader. He is also described by a few as stubborn and individualistic. But then change makers have to be so
to some extent for things to start moving. The present reality demands some one like him . for change is not easy and requires people who do not only have
conviction but are also ready to take the heat and dust of living those convictions. As he reaches out to others across India, he will surely understand that he
needs to be more visibly democratic in order to build an effective coalition of like-minded people.