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In an ultra-fast, hurried mode, the world has learnt a lot about the Aam Aadmi Party in the last few months. The party has opined on subjects well beyond its area of responsibility and expertise, e.g., foreign policy, and well within it, e.g., policies on water, electricity, law and order, and how to run a government (from the street or from the office). The media and glitterati have been chattering about the AAP even at dinner. The Congress party seems to be caught in the AAP's headlights like an ultra-frightened deer. Before one could say ‘copy-cat’, two states ruled by it —Haryana and Maharashtra—have already announced power tariff cuts along the socialist vision of the AAP in Delhi. Mercifully, they haven’t gone full-hog with subsidies for the rich as per Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's dictatorial water policy that was implemented in the national capital.
Should the AAP be getting this much attention since, at best, it is leading a coalition government in the small NCT of Delhi? Obviously not, except for the fact that there is considerable speculation about the impact of the AAP in the national elections a few months hence. It is in this context that the AAP’s actions of recent days have to be considered. By leading a protest march against the central government, the AAP may not have won hearts and minds, but it surely has won all the TV ratings. One hypothesis that deserves serious discussion is to what extent the media-and-journalist-savvy AAP calculated that the national exposure guaranteed by the protest led by the ‘mad anarchist’ (not mine, but
Kejriwal’s and the home minister’s words) may not have been so mad!
The results of two opinion polls—India Today and CNN-IBN—have just been released and both point to more hype than substance in the projections of the AAP as even a semi-major force in Indian politics. Among the major states, the AAP receives a national vote share of 4.6%; excluding Delhi, its national vote share drops to 3.9%. In terms of seats, the AAP receives 5 in Delhi (both polls) and 4 outside Delhi (IT poll, with CNN-IBN not making any seat projections). To put this into perspective, the BSP received 8 % of the national vote share in 2009, and CPM-CPI together received 5%. And recall the fact that a political party is considered a national party only if it receives more than