Kejriwal’s big challenge

Arvind Kejriwal is proving to be an astute politician. He has hijacked the plank central to the Congress’s electoral strategy by naming his fledgling party after the aam aadmi.

In other words, the anti-graft activist has sought to give the aam aadmi– whom the ruling dispensation professes to serve— a party of his own. That at least is the promise.

But Kejriwal’s proclivity for self-projection enhanced by an obliging media saw him naming himself as the convener of the new outfit. The AAP’s first impression would have been telling had he chosen a lesser known but well-regarded person to head the party.

That said, the AAP that’s yet to demonstrate a Pan-India vision except the resolve to fight corruption, would have reasons to rejoice if it opens account in the Delhi Assembly polls it’s gearing to contest. Kejriwal has been more cautious than valorous in selecting the national capital as his first battle-ground.

The anti-graft movement has had a bigger impact in Delhi than in any other urban centre. It’s here that it stands a good chance for registering maiden electoral victories. But if it fails in the first past the post system, it might end up helping the Congress by dividing the anti-incumbency vote.

Be that as it may, the poll outcome in the capital would help one predict better the future of the new party in relation to the older, somewhat maligned players — the Congress, BJP, the Left and the regional parties. A good percentage of polled votes will raise nevertheless the AAP’s value as an ally. That alone can keep it in business for years to come.

But the expectations it has fuelled and the standards it has tried to set for the political class could also prove to be the AAP’s undoing. It can’t be found violating its own principles; one bad apple in its lot could be one too many for it to live down.

The AAP will not just be on test on the probity issue. Very much under watch will be the democratic credentials of its leading lights. Role models can’t have downsides. It they do, they tumble in popular esteem.

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