Desi Talk - page 12

By Rama Lakshmi
– NEWDELHI
n a stunning defeat for
Prime Minister Narendra
Modi’s backers, the upstart
anti-corruption Common
Man Party swept to power
in a landslide victory Feb.
10 in the citywide elections in
New Delhi.
The contest was widely viewed
as a measure of Modi’s political
clout here.
Supporters of the Common
Man Party, wearing their trade-
mark white caps, danced to loud
music and waved party flags in
celebration at the party’s office in
the heart of the capital.When
party founder Arvind Kejriwal
stepped out, they showered him
with marigold and rose petals.
“We did not have money, we
did not have the resources. But
when you decide to walk on the
path of truth, then all the forces of
the universe help you,” said
Kejriwal, who founded the party,
also known as the Aam Aadmi
Party (AAP), two years ago.
He also claimed the estab-
lished political groups, including
Modi’s Hindu nationalist
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), suf-
fered because of “their arro-
gance.”
“We have to fold our hands
humbly and serve the people,”
Kejriwal told the crowds. “We can
turn Delhi into a city that can be a
pride of both the poor and rich
people.”
Modi congratulated Kejriwal
and pledged support.
The bitterly fought election for
control of the legislative assembly
marks the first political setback to
Modi’s BJP since he became
prime minister last May.
Riding on Modi’s soaring pop-
ularity, the BJP had won in a
number of state elections in
recent months, and they were
expected to repeat their success
Feb. 10 – a phenomenon dubbed
Modi’s “victory chariot” by the
media.
But Delhi proved to be a tough
battle for the BJP because of the
appeal of the charismatic
Kejriwal, a former tax officer-
turned anti-corruption activist.
His small party won 67 voting dis-
tricts out of a total of 70. Modi’s
BJP took three, down from 32 in
the last city election in December
2013.
The beleaguered Congress
party, which was routed after 10
years of national rule by Modi last
year, captured none of the dis-
tricts.
One television news station
called the outcome a “tectonic
shift in Indian politics.” The next
parliamentary elections, however,
are still four years away.
“This was the battle between
the storm and the candle. The
candle of hope is winning,” said
Yogendra Yadav, a senior member
of the Common Man Party. “How
could we even think of fighting
such big political parties with so
much money? But the people are
carrying us on their shoulders
today.”
The election results is some-
thing of a comeback for Kejriwal
and his group of new supporters.
Their last try at running the city
government in early 2014 dis-
solved in chaos after a few weeks.
Analysts say a chastened
Kejriwal – who routinely apolo-
gized for his record on the cam-
paign trail – still managed to bring
in poor voters and the city’s mid-
dle-class, who remain disillu-
sioned over politics in India,
where mainstream parties are
widely viewed as corrupt, opaque
and thriving on manipulation of
religious and caste identities.
“Though this is not a referen-
dum on Modi’s national govern-
ment, but this may be used as a
peg to build up criticism against
him,” said Manisha Priyam, the
India coordinator for election
research for the London School of
Economics and Political Science.
Continued on page 14
I
Above, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and its
chief ministerial candidate for Delhi, Arvind
Kejriwal, waves to his supporters in New
Delhi Feb. 10. Right, AAP supporters dance
during the celebrations outside their party
office in Ahmedabad Feb. 10.
– that’s all you need to know
12
February 13, 2015
COVER STORY
SHOCK ‘N’ AAP
Aam Aadmi Party Crushes BJP and Congress
in Delhi Electoral Landslide
Reuters
Reuters
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