If politics is the art of the possible, as Otto von Bismarck argued, then Arvind Kejriwal would do well to explore the next best options in Delhi in a situation where his principles do not allow him to either accept the support of other parties or offer his support to them. As the second largest party in a hung Assembly, the Aam Aadmi Party is in a real dilemma. After having grown without the traditional building blocks of caste and communal vote banks, and won support in the election on the basis of a campaign against both the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the AAP is quite rightly wary of being seen as politically opportunistic in the changed post-election situation. With the BJP expressing its inability to form a government, it is the turn of the AAP to explore the possibilities of giving Delhi a government with a difference. Mr. Kejriwal is justified in wanting to keep a distance from both the BJP and the Congress. But the principled opposition to the traditional political class should not be a handicap in giving the people of Delhi a government in which the AAP can carry through its programme. Instead of ending up as a prisoner of his principles, Mr. Kejriwal should seize the opportunity to provide a government that is in line with his stated principles, free of corruption, and driven solely by the livelihood needs and concerns of the people.

Surely, there is no harm in accepting the support of other parties so long as the agenda is the AAP’s own. Of course, no matter how it is described — conditional or otherwise — support from other parties who have no stake in the government cannot be taken for granted. But such support, as long as it is available, can be put to good use. True, the AAP looked opportunistic and eager to compromise when soon after the elections senior leader Prashant Bhushan offered conditional support to the BJP. The AAP needed to demonstrate it was different from other parties. Also, for a party whose principal founder was initially reluctant to enter electoral politics and wanted to push the people’s agenda for change through mass mobilisation, it would have been unwise to hurriedly grab at the offer of support from the Congress. After meeting Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung, Mr. Kejriwal sought ten days’ time, and quite rightly noted that there was no such thing as “unconditional support” in politics. But by shooting off letters to the Congress and the BJP taking the high moral ground, Mr. Kejriwal ended up appearing too demanding and not very intent on forming a government. The AAP leader seems bent on seeking a fresh mandate without trying his best to make the present mandate work. This all-or-nothing attitude will do little good to either his party or the people of Delhi.

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