As verdict 2013 rolls out, what has the broom, that has mauled the waving hand and stopped the lotus from completely blooming, achieved in Delhi? Here are five pointers.
- Empowering ordinary people. As symbolised by the very name aam aadmi, that the party wore like a badge. Almost suggesting there was nothing extraordinary about the party. As distinct from the tag of being the grand old party, that is the Congress. And the tag of the party with a difference, that is the BJP. Just an ordinary party whose birth took place in front of the cameras a year ago peopled with very aam men and woman who between themselves managed to give a good scare to the entrenched polity. A young journalist, a former army man, a former revenue officer, and some more ordinary people who took the plunge into politics till now the preserve of the few. Between them, they nearly cornered 30 per cent vote share and 28 seats at the last count in Delhi. Call it the spectacular achievement of unknown people, regular folks who do extraordinary things when they get very angry.
- Making Corruption into an issue. Almost every one was forced to take note of a malaise that had become an acceptable part of life. Perhaps as acceptable as power cuts or bad roads. Except that AAP used it like a badge, almost forcing everyone supporting them to take a pledge against corruption. The first party that blinked was the BJP, the very party that was poised to be the alternative to the Congress. Till a month ago, Vijay Goel was the man about town, his posters dotted the landscape of Delhi along with Modi. Till the party woke up to the stink of corruption swirling around Goel, and realised that it was important for them to have someone with a clean image, and settled down for the good doctor Harshvardhan. Call this the achievement of AAP. The Congress, on the other hand, did not acknowledge the newcomer, content as it was to direct its energies at the BJP. It has been drubbed from 43 seats in 2009 to eight seats in 2013.
- Proving that big is not necessarily beneficial. That it is possible for small to be beautiful. No big rallies of the kind addressed by Modi or the Congress for AAP. Just good old mohalla meetings and adda conversations where people tuned in, followed by publicity on the radio, social media and posters on the streets. The emphasis was on low key, high visibility campaign. Perhaps a reminder that the big scale may not always pay in the long run. In the battle of perceptions, AAP emerged the front runners with less money and with the image of humble blokes, Davids taking on Goliaths, that endured
- Providing a genuine alternative. And thus making those earlier dismissed as apathetic into active participants in democracy. There is a new kind of voter that AAP tapped into: The young, educated and the not so educated, the elite middle class and the not so elite, the slum dwellers who rooted for them. They saw an alternative in AAP, and believed in their promise of a new, clean politics.
- Crushing cynicism. Perhaps the biggest achievement has been the buzz about the ability to make a difference. Will the broom sweep other states in 2014? With its presence in 200 districts, there is every chance that AAP will make a connect in 2014. For ordinary people can do some extraordinary things when they get angry. What is reassuring is the clarity with which they have unequivocally stated that they are going to sit in the opposition instead of joining hands with Congress to reach the magical number of 36. It may well be making a virtue of necessity, but in the battle of perceptions, saying no to power, specially when it is tantalisingly close, is no mean achievement in these cynical times when the conventional wisdom is the cliché about sab chor hain, or is hamaam mein sab nange hain