A new dawn has broken in India. That's what many people would like to believe after the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) or the common man's party has taken over the reins of power in Delhi.
The big-ticket promises of the party's manifesto have raised high hopes. Towering over all the promises is the extirpation of corruption, something which runs on autopilot in India. Any attempt to curb this evil, leave alone root it out, will be met with stiff resistance.
The question that exercises the minds of many people now is whether the new Chief Minister, Arvind Kejriwal, can walk the talk. A former bureaucrat, Kejriwal is au fait with the inner working of the bureaucratic world.
AAP has created an unprecedented buzz among not just the Delhiites but many people up and down the country. The people have been longing for an alternative to the corruption-ridden BJP and the Congress. They are fed up to the teeth with parties that promote — covertly or overtly — communalism, pseudo-secularism, casteism, nepotism and corruption. The massive bottom-up responses of the people have, beyond doubt, set the teeth of both the national parties, the BJP and the Congress, on edge.
The jaw-dropping rise of the AAP has indeed put the skids under plans of the BJP as well as the Congress because the loss of a few thousand votes even in a few constituencies would translate into loss of power at the centre in the forthcoming general elections.
The BJP is a tad flummoxed and flabbergasted that the Narendra Modi wave hasn't happened in the Delhi election. The Congress is aghast at the way it was swept away from Delhi with the AAP broom (broom is the election symbol of AAP).
BJP has tried to trivialise the AAP victory and is hoping it will crash out when it gets into the nitty-gritty of governance; if it doesn't collapse under its own weight, the Congress that supports it from outside would pull it down the moment Kejriwal starts exposing the shenanigans of the previous government.
The Congress is waiting to call Kejriwal's bluff when, it presumes, the new government finds it almost impossible to fulfil his pie-in-the-sky promises. It hopes the AAP government would invariably hit the iceberg of bureaucratic sinecure and be torpedoed unceremoniously.
If the past is any guide, the Congress is not going to prop up the Kejriwal government for the next five years. But one can almost be certain that the Congress would not venture into a toppling game at least till the Lok Sabha elections slated for April-May.
That means even if the government turns against the Congress in its fight against corruption, the latter will have no resorts but to lump it. Or else, the voters, not least the fence-sitters, would deal a massive blow to the party. Kejriwal has already started holding what may be termed Janta Durbar outside his residence, redolent of the Mogul era. His ministers would hold such meetings with people on the lawns of the secretariat.
This amounts to Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy's mass-contact programme in reverse.
Chandy's style involves taking instant decisions on complaints of people who gather in their thousands in various districts. Who knows Kejriwal may imitate Chandy in due course. Kejriwal, it seems, flags transparency by going to the common people directly for their opinion not least on vexed issues. When it came to the question of forming a government with the support of the Congress, Kejriwal asked the people their opinion directly and through a referendum.
Sure, Kejriwal's plate is full and many of the problems are of gargantuan proportions. It is well nigh impossible to fulfil all the promises the party had made. For instance, its promise to slash power tariff by half is really difficult. Already the Electricity Regulatory Commission, an independent body, has asserted that the Delhi government cannot fix the power tariff.
This means the government may have to take the old route of subsidy, which is said to be the bane of modern India. But if the Kejriwal government is able to fulfil at least 50 per cent of its promises, it can certainly be considered a soaraway success.
Of course, the next big question is whether the AAP can shape up to be a pan-Indian party. Given the long-running anger against the national parties, it definitely can.
Prashant Bhushan, a key AAP leader, has already had a recce tour of the south while his team member Yogendra Yadav is focusing on Haryana, the native place of Kejriwal.
The party has set up units even in the southernmost state of Kerala, something which augurs well for the party's future.
The author is a freelance contributor based in India. All the views and opinions expressed in the article are solely those of the author and do not reflect those of Times of Oman.