India Elections: Anti-Corruption Party Faces First Test

Regarding the development agenda, let us talk about populist measures. AAP leaders have raised discussion on food and energy schemes for the common man. Such populist plans might win votes, but it can be a sure way for government bankruptcy.

We are in fiscal deficit, this would make us fiscally insolvent. One would have expected Kejriwal to know better. The solution to current problems is not going back to socialist-era populism packages, a method which has already failed.

If there is a way to address the financial outgo with some inflow of additional receipts, yet combining the development agenda for local communities, I will suggest the CSR-for-Sops alternative.

Job creation and vocational training are also critical aspects, given a key component of people (also voters) is dependant for its livelihood from the “grey” economy which thrives due to the inherent corruption in the system. They might fear their future given the AAP’s mandate, hence the need for greater formalization of the economy and arranging alternatives.

While it is advisable to start small and AAP has done rightly by taking the first plunge in Delhi state rather than India, Kejriwal has apparently stood in the same constituency as incumbent Sheila Dixit.

It might be a blazing battle, but was it an intelligent move given all the possible outcomes? A triumph if he wins, but what if he loses? Who will be the face of the party? Are their chances of leadership squabbles between the AAP’s representatives inside the parliament and its chief outside? There can be leadership crises in such situations, depending on the profile of the candidates.

In today’s age of T-20 cricket, people in India have high expectations and low patience. Whether AAP can achieve its mandate in its first term in office or whether it needs the time of a second term, is only to be seen.

There might be some thought of the leadership brass to ensure constant communication-flow for transparency sake, if only to convey the reasons for delay or failure in projects where the obstacles faced proved beyond its capacity to handle. One-sided communications like party newsletters and press updates might seem biased. The motive is two-way communication.

ALLIANCES DILEMMA

The AAP plans to involve itself with the Panchayat, the grassroot-level decision body in local communities, where it can convey the progress on its local development agenda to the actual ears that matter, and discuss the challenges and obstacles.

Often, challenges are local, and the best way to work out solutions is to involve the local community in the process. Publicists might suggest debates on TV news channels. But excuses, biases and allegations can often confuse the viewer there, though accepting credible opinion and reasoning might be possible for intelligent viewers.

In conclusion, these elections are as much a test for the AAP as for the Indian voters. Time will tell what the voters decide. AAP has largely attacked the mainstream parties, while being silent on smaller, regional parties. If absolute majority is impossible, the need for coalitions would demand alliances with such smaller outfits, many of whom have been mired in controversies of their own.

This raises the issue of whether the AAP leadership can maintain its clean image while aligning with not-so-clean partners in a coalition. The time for AAP to prove itself is now. Even if it loses, the strong challenge it has given might force the existing mainstream parties to roll up their sleeves and deliver better productivity. That, in itself, might be a better deal for common Indians.

Sourajit Aiyer is a finance professional currently based in Mumbai. Views and ideas expressed are entirely personal.

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