Column: The fourth alternative

Jan 06 2014, 13:57 IST
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SummaryThe AAP could replace the Congress nationally over the years but needs to wait till 2019 to net a big win

The political uncertainty surrounding the Indian economy took its toll through much of 2013. One hope was that when the state election results come out in December 2013, there would be some clarity about the election outcome during 2014. But with the fractured mandate in Delhi, there seems even more uncertainty now than was thinkable six months ago.

Arvind Kejriwal has upset the apple cart. Principally, the Congress party paid the price of its incumbency and arrogance. What mattered was the door-to-door contact and listening to voters by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which the Congress has forgotten about for decades. The BJP is still a cadre party, thanks to RSS. Congress is just one family and chamchas.

The AAP has transformed the possibilities in Indian politics. As a modern, member-based party, it has attracted support both at the bottom-end where the ignored masses are and the middle-classes which had contempt for the traditional political parties. The AAP is not caste- or religion-based. It does not have to worry about secularism even as its leaders visit temples. They are clean (thus far) and approachable.

The spectre haunting the Congress is how to stop Modi from becoming PM. Rahul Gandhi has proved to be a dud. Sonia Gandhi’s health may not allow her to repeat the campaigns of 2004 and 2009. The Congress party has been desperately hoping for a third-party alternative which it could support from the outside. At first, Nitish Kumar was enticed with the come-hither smiles. He was told he could be PM in a multi-party coalition which the Congress would back. On that promise, he broke with the BJP. Now, the Congress has forsaken him and embraced Lalu Prasad Yadav who is extra-loyal and has nowhere else to go. Lalu’s conviction will not matter as he is anti-Modi and that is all that counts. Nitish has a past association with BJP and is far too independent to kowtow to you-know-who. In UP, it will be Mayawati for the Congress to woo as Mulayam has delved to new depths in his cynicism about the victims of Muzaffarnagar riots. The Congress party is unlikely to do well in Bihar or UP.

But now, there is a whole new scenario. Suddenly, the anti-Modi forces are dreaming about Kejriwal being the Galahad to rescue the maiden of Congress-secularism. Hence, the outside support in Delhi and the enthusiastic endorsement of his achievement by

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