Why Old Politics Is Out in New Delhi

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Chandradeep Kumar / India Today Group / Getty Images

Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal gestures as he addresses the public in New Delhi on Dec. 22, 2013

The National Capital Territory of Delhi is set to get a new leader, with Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) head Arvind Kejriwal to become its next chief minister (CM). Kejriwal and his upstart anticorruption party defeated three-term Congress CM Sheila Dikshit in state elections earlier this month in an impressive debut that signaled urban voters’ weariness of politics as usual in India.

Kejriwal, who at 45 would be Delhi’s youngest CM, campaigned on a platform of ending an era of corrupt politics in India while tabling populist initiatives like free water for all Delhi households — to appeal to the “common man,” or aam aadmi, for which the party is named. The party symbol is a straw broom, a ubiquitous household item that alludes to AAP’s promise of including the poor and working class in the political process. “This is not a change of government, but a true change of regime,” says Mohan Guruswamy, founder and chairman of New Delhi think tank Centre for Policy Alternatives. “[Kejriwal] is actually promising a different way of doing things.”

(MORE: India’s Newest Political Party Takes On Graft)

Delhiites certainly heeded the call, showing up to vote in unprecedented numbers on Dec. 4. AAP won 28 out of 70 state-assembly seats, a close second to the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which won 32. But with no party able to claim a majority, weeks of uncertainty ensued, until AAP and the incumbent Congress Party, which managed only eight seats in a major defeat, announced Congress would lend its support and give the young party the slim majority it needed to form a government. “We have not promised unconditional support to AAP,” outgoing CM Dikshit said, according to reports. “Let’s see if they deliver.”

Kejriwal may be sworn in as early as Dec. 26. The party leader served as a bureaucrat for several years before leaving government to work as an activist and campaigner. He went on to work with activist Anna Hazare to fight for a national anticorruption law, which came to be known as the Lokpal Bill and was passed by Parliament this month in a major victory for the soon-to-be CM. Kejriwal and Hazare, however, have parted ways, due in part to Kejriwal’s deciding to take the anticorruption fight into the political arena by forming AAP in November 2012.

Many may question Kejriwal’s teaming up with a party he has spent years condemning. Others will wonder if he can deliver on the promises he has made to voters, particularly as his party’s energies are divided between governing for the first time and making inroads in national elections scheduled for this spring. But while some doubt the short-term feasibility of his pledge to slash water and electricity prices, the political sea change AAP offers may prove more powerful in the long run. “There is some method to [Kejriwal’s] madness,” says Guruswamy. “He is giving people who had no say in the system a voice. They might like that.”

MORE: What Delhi’s Local Polls Tell Us About India’s Upcoming Elections

19 comments
vaishnavjagdip
vaishnavjagdip

People of India are tired with the 9 years rule of UPA govt .Govt utterly failed to control corruption, inflation, could not improve deficit governance. 

Billions of public money gets siphoned off in scams, public money is lost. 

All major scams have taken place under the nose of Govt, however high lighted by Controller Auditor general of India, Chief vigilance commissioner & Electronic media.Govt even criticizes such institutions, even verdict of Hon"Hon'ble courts are  criticized b the govt since against their interest.

People even do not get justice in time, judicial process is much expensive ,common man can not afford.

People wants change ,hoping for better future, 

manishrohera91
manishrohera91

Arvind Kejriwal a man made of iron a look into his life an mechanical engineer from India's most prestigious college IIT kharagpur he worked in Tata steel as an engineer but soon to serve the nation he left his job and started working in Mother Teressa's missionary he cleared the coveted Indian revenue service where he became joint commissioner he soon realized the extent of corruption and started parivartan an organization which helped people to deal with their grievances in IT department he realized he can't clean the system from within and hence left his job and at that time he came to know about RTI in Delhi worked towards its enactment and awareness in whole India for which he got Magsasay award and also he donated his prize money to his organization he started a new movement for an anti corruption body called lokpal even after all that he could do the government didn't pass Lokpal hence he decided to form a party which with clean money won elections his rise has forced the government to enact Lokpal to reduce his impact this is a revolution as Arvind says

TyagiD'Rahul
TyagiD'Rahul

It's not free water per se, as people would like to chime here. 

This concept is called 'Lifeline Water' where the billing starts after 700th litre of water is consumed. The idea is that everyone is entitled to water; it's not like if you don't pay water tax, you can't drink water. This is a brilliant approach and is particularly relevant in a country like India where number of taxpayers is a very small percentage of actual population. 

I think Kejriwal and Dr. Kumar Vishwas are smart chaps, and their's is perhaps India's best bet to lower not only corruption but also to bring 'vehicle India' back on to tracks of progress. It's quite, and pleasantly, surprising that both lost old parties are now scrambling to discuss performance and progress instead of stupid subjects like Hindutva or pseudo-secularism. What's happening at the same time, as you can see from comments below is that the incumbents and their supporters are both frustrated and know that their time has come. 

vaishnavjagdip
vaishnavjagdip

Old politics is out from Delhi & three other states.   even in forth coming general election , it is opined Congress party shall have worst debacle


Reason being , govt is utterly failed to control rampant corruption, increasing crime rate & inflation

People even do not get justice in time, common man can not afford to approach up to supreme court since judicial process is costly .Govt is delaying establishment of additional courts, CBI courts & judges


Public grievance dept of central govt has not delivered expected result, they just forward complaints to concerned ministry /their officials  ,do not read ,notice outcome 

geens01
geens01

Old politics is out really? " Free water for all household".. sounds like the same free hand out politics that is holding back India

sridhar.sid
sridhar.sid

Ole style politics is finished in India. But, it is too early to say that AAP will sweep the dirt easily. Numerous challenges face the AAP including facing the realities of delivering on election promises. This is so clear when BJP yells in Parliament, when in opposition, but makes a sharp turn when in power. But, the victory of AAP is a victory for democracy in India, even if the magic runs out soon

anjan288
anjan288

@vaishnavjagdip 

It is not 9 years ... it is almost 60 years, except a few years by the Janata party and the BJP .... the Scamgress party of the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty ruined India ....

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@manishrohera91 I've got serious problem with the kind of attitude AAP playing.  That same attitude started right from the days of ANNA-BLOKE's agitation.  "Those who support us are GOOD and those who don't support us are invariably BAD."  This is NOT the kind of attitude appreciable in a democratic society.  If this continues, it might lead to a kind of anarchy.


I agree that people are fed up of the existing GOVT of UPA led by the Italian-New-Congress.  But I'm skeptical about how well AAP is going to work.    It's appreciable that as far as we know money power didn't work well in the recent Delhi Politics.  But tAAP has to prove themselves in GOVERNANCE.  


Looking at the way things are going it doesn't seem so bright.  The kind of childish remarks that "All the other parties are corrupt".  Asking GOVT Officials to call the AAP-GOVT and inform if they are NOT corrupt.  I mean, who on earth is going to even assume that they are CORRUPT.  Every damn person wants only to defend oneself.

SanMan
SanMan

@manishrohera91 So in other words he's hopping around and can't stay focused on one thing to see it through. Mechanical engineer? Big deal, I'm a chemical engineer and went to a better school than his. What are his actual skills in delivering good governance? Talk is cheap, and he's full of it. Governance is something he's short on - and that's what really counts. Across the decades, Indians have only been given a choice between Left and Leftier,  and Kejriwal is just another Lefty - another Fabian socialist. Bad choice with bad ideas.

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@TyagiD'Rahul But after getting elected the dear Mr.Kejriwal amended the "Free upto 700ltrs" to "Free upto 700ltrs for Poor and Lower-Middle-Class".  So, we're yet to see how many such amendments are going to be done to their so-called manifesto.

SanMan
SanMan

@geens01 

Exactly. Kejriwal is full of vote-buying promises. I don't think he can deliver.

manishrohera91
manishrohera91

@SanMan as he says government is no rocket science you can use water meters for proper water distribution and everyone knows how electricity bills are inflated by firms using shabby means please if you go to some foreign institution no big deal as your father can pay for it and if you are an IITian than you are among those folks doing monotonous engineering job I'm a computer engineer not from a big school but have a job in MNC it's no big deal don't even compare yourself to Kejriwal we have another IITian named Manohar Parikar he closed all illegal mining every one thought Goa economy is going to dogs but he made an example of it today India's cleanest CM

anjan288
anjan288

@SanMan 

your opinion about Kejriwal has no basis ... it is all speculation ... and you seem to be good at that ...

anjan288
anjan288

@SanMan

You want Modi ... so do I ... but I do not agree with your view on Kejriwal ..

SanMan
SanMan

@anjan288

No, a non-Leftist choice is a political alternative to the current non-choice of Left, Leftier, Leftiest. A non-Leftist choice represents real change, while anything else is just meaningless fan-love for personalities (and Kejriwal doesn't have much of a personality to boast about.)


Modi has shown that non-Leftist governance provides development and advancement for society, just as developed countries have already shown this with their non-Leftist governance. Choosing yet another practitioner of Leftism, which is based on disproven fallacies, is just another plunge back into drug addiction. Leftism is the opiate of the masses.

anjan288
anjan288

@SanMan 

AAP is a political alternative, the people of India badly needs. AAP is a grand experiment ... it must be given time and the opportunity to succeed.

Is it not premature for doubters like yourself to dismiss Kejriwal, even before he has started to run a Govt. in Delhi ... ?


SanMan
SanMan

@manishrohera91

Manish, you can keep flapping your lips and gushing over this talker, but the reality is that he has no appetite for governance and delivery of services, only for posturing. He road on the coattails of Anna Hazare and Kiran Bedi, but now he feigns illness rather than show up to their rallies. He's no better than any politician we've seen before, and he's another Leftist. The fact that his mentor Prashant Bhushan supports separatism for Kashmir shows a dangerous naivete in his cadres.

Goa CM Parikar is better because he's from BJP, which is a non-Leftwing party. After decades of socialism have turned India into the cesspool that it is, only non-Leftwing policies can reform the country. That's why Arvind Kejriwal does not have the solutions to India's problems, which are far more severe than mere technological band-aids like "e-governance" or electronic meters. Developed countries have been able to provide far better governance for their people, long before there was any e-whatever, and it's due to their ideology and attitudes. Without that, no amount of e-whatever will get the job done

You claim to be a computer engineer for an MNC, but based on your babbling, I wouldn't hire you or your e-fanboyism at all.

NandaKishoreN
NandaKishoreN

@anjan288 I'm sorry but this is the problem with the supporters of AAP.  i agree that @SanMan's opinion about Kejriwal has no basis and it's all speculation.  It's absolutely word-to-word correct.  But don't U see that same goes for even Ur opinion?  


Free water?  Does this man even understand that purification of water and pumping of water to our houses needs a lot of money spent by the Govt and the Water-Bill is actually a way of covering the same expenditure?  If this misfit stops collecting Water bill, where the hell is he going to get the money from.  Oh, wait, in the beginning he said "Free Water" without any qualifications, but after getting elected he came down to "Free Water for Lower-Middle Class and Poor people".  


First they get elected, then they take so much time to form the GOVT.  What's their reason, they are not going to join hands with Corrupt Political Parties. 


Now he makes a statement that "Honest Govt officials should tell the AAP Govt that they are honest."  What kind of childish statements are these?  Anybody would assume themselves to be honest.  Even a thief will justify his stealing, even a murderer will justify his killing.  Who's Mr.Kejriwal expecting to come forward and say, "I'm a dishonest and corrupt GOVT Official."


"We'll open a helpline, call the number if U encounter any corrupt official asking for bribe.";  This is purely a copy from NAAYAK movie.  Life is NOT a movie.


Yes, people are fedup of the OLD politics.  AAP has done a great job achieving the win in elections without money power, at least from what is known.  But how far they are going to be successful in running the GOVT is a big question.  And all I'm saying is don't hope for more and give AAP credit for what they've NOT achieved.