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Common man’s party to rule Delhi state

 | December 27, 2013

But with only 28 seats in a 70-member house, its position is precarious

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The State of Delhi will get a new government on Saturday, when Arvind Kejriwal will be sworn in as the seventh chief minister. He heads the newly-constituted Aam Aadmi (Common Man’s) Party.

The Congress Party, which ruled Delhi for 15 years, was voted out of power in the recent elections to the state assembly. The party’s rout—as most will describe the defeat—was largely provoked by Congress’ misrule and corruption—certainly at the federal level during the past nine years when it headed a coalition ministry.

So, Aam Aadmi’s win is clearly seen as an anti-scam move. And Kejriwal has promised to cleanse the system, punish the guilty and bring about radical changes.

He has vowed to slash power tariff and provide free water up to a certain quantity. He has refused security and a bungalow for himself, choosing instead to stay in a flat like a common man. He and his ministers will not drive cars with red beacons.

However, the party has secured only 28 seats in a 70-member house. So it will be actually a minority administration that Congress has promised to support with its eight legislators.

This is where the conflict starts. Aam Aadmi, to begin with, got that many seats only because the electorate was disgusted with the Congress regime. And if Kejriwal were now to run a government with Congress support, it will surely appear unethical.

Some may aver that Kejriwal had no choice. But I would differ here.  He could have refused to form a government, and that scenario would have led to presidential rule or a re-election.

But with Kejriwal now deciding to form the government with Congress backing, one wonders how he hopes to root out corruption and punish the guilty when many of those involved in scams might well turn out to be Congressmen. Will Kejriwal’s main coalition partner, the Congress Party, allow this?

The Aam Aadmi administration can find itself sitting on a precarious seat, or even find it impossible to govern, leading to administrative chaos and policy paralysis.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is the main opposition in Delhi with its 31 seats, wisely refused to form a government. It said it did not want to align itself with either Aam Aadmi or, naturally, Congress.

In federal elections early next year, BJP and Congress will be the main contenders.

With BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, making waves—and seemingly all set to win the elections—the party may not want to align with Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi, which, emboldened by its Delhi success, plans to fight the federal poll as well.

Gautaman Bhaskaran is India Editor of FMT, and Chennai-based author, columnist and movie critic. He may be emailed at [email protected]


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