The Aam Aadmi Party has creditably been unswerving in its refusal to accept offers of support from the major political parties, the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, to form the next government in Delhi. By staying true to his pledge not to support either party in the event of a hung Assembly in Delhi, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal has shown himself to be a person of principles. He has acknowledged that the mandate for his fledgling formation reflected public faith in the AAP’s platform. Sunday’s fractured verdict placed Mr. Kejriwal on test and his challenge is to resist a continuing flow of inducements from the two other contenders. Having sold a dream to its voters with the promise of clean and principled politics, the AAP cannot afford the slightest misstep in this regard, risking the tremendous goodwill that has brought it so close to power. The AAP was born out of a social movement that tapped into public impatience with the politics of corruption and compromise. Anna Hazare who led the movement drew his credibility from being viewed as a renunciate with no self-interest, but only a deep and abiding commitment to cleanse the system. However, movements are by definition transient, and Team Anna crumbled in the face of the UPA Government’s intransigence on the Jan Lokpal Bill which was at the core of the agitation.
When Mr. Kejriwal parted ways with Anna Hazare, it appeared that the movement for political renewal was in serious jeopardy. Yet, if Mr. Kejriwal managed to change that moment of despair into one of hope, it was because he realised the futility of grandstanding from a distance and saw the need to transform the social stirring that drew upon so much idealism and hope, especially among the youth, into a live political battle with the entrenched mainstream political parties. The voter interest in the AAP was on account of its perceived idealism rather than the bagful of populist promises it offered. Mr. Kejriwal owes it to his voters — and the country at large — not to betray their faith in his party. It is important that the AAP sticks to its principled platform, the centrepiece of which was the passage of the Jan Lokpal Bill, intended to bring into existence an independent body which on the basis of complaints from the public could independently investigate corruption cases against political leaders and government officials. The AAP has said that it would sit in the opposition in the Delhi Assembly and not indulge in any “horse-trading”. It is vital now than ever before that the AAP keeps its word, if it intends to retain credibility in the long term.