For a party seen as an upstart born out of the ashes of Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal movement, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) of Arvind Kejriwal made a spectacular electoral debut Sunday, winning 28 seats in the Delhi Assembly polls and emerging as the second largest party ahead of the ruling Congress, and barely behind the BJP.
Rivals and analysts were left groping for adjectives to describe the performance of the political novice, but they agreed that the rise of AAP reflected the aspirations of urban voters, the strength of an anti-corruption platform, and the impact a strong third player could have on elections.
The AAP’s stunning debut was capped by Kejriwal’s thumping victory against Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in her New Delhi constituency by a margin of 25,864 votes. The party also dispelled the notion that it was just an upper class party, fuelled by middle-class anger in Delhi, and did not represent the poor, by winning nine of the 12 reserved seats in Delhi. But the results also meant Delhi was headed for a hung assembly with Kejriwal firmly rejecting any alliance with the Congress or BJP.
And with the BJP emerging as the single largest party with 31 seats - four short of a majority as its ally SAD won one seat - Kejriwal’s decision may mean another election in Delhi.
“We will play the role of a constructive opposition and will not seek or give support from any party to form the govt,” Kejriwal told reporters in his first comments after results were declared. “This is a historic election result in many respects. This is not a victory of the Aam Aadmi Party, but a victory of the people. Politicians now know that the public will now remove them if they resort to such means.”
While the BJP’s CM candidate Harsh Vardhan congratulated Kejriwal and the AAP, he said that his party had emerged as the single largest party but did not have the mandate to form the government.
“We respect the people’s mandate and we will not indulge in breaking or supporting other parties or candidates to form the government,” Vardhan said.
Even as the AAP readies itself for another run at the Delhi Assembly, Kejriwal asserted that the Delhi elections was only the first step in the party’s political journey. “We will not