Chief Minister Kejriwal
By choosing to take the plunge, the AAP has deepened democratic possibilities
In the short span of a year, the Aam Aadmi Party has made some pretty momentous transitions. From single-issue campaign to organised party, from angry challenger to political alternative, from insurgent to success story. Now, by deciding to form government in Delhi, taking outside support from the Congress, the party it raged against and laid low, Arvind Kejriwal's party has inaugurated yet another significant makeover. The party that made the disavowal of power its calling card, and which pledged to overhaul The System, will now preside over it in a minority government. It may not be the perfect debut Kejriwal had dreamed of. But his party has done well to step up to the moment. Having upended politics-as-usual, it now has the opportunity to have a go at conventional governance.
There will be constraints. Having so far run with a manifesto dominated by its critique of the rest, the AAP will now have to deliver on its promises. The task of governance, it will find, is not about pleasing everyone all the time, but of weighing competing claims, making choices and taking responsibility for them. There will be the inevitable discomforts of depending on the support of a party whose members it has promised to investigate for corruption and despatch to jail — though with Lok Sabha elections round the corner, the generally embattled Congress may find it especially difficult to bring down a shiny new AAP government. There will also be the limitations brought on by the structural problem, specific to Delhi, of sharing powers with the Centre. Within these constraints, the AAP will have to work out the implementation of its commitments, from the delivery of free water and slashed power rates to a more powerful anti-corruption body. It will find it much easier to effect other, more symbolic, changes — in the "lal batti" culture, for instance. Any dent in that culture, which infects and cramps living spaces in the capital, however, is not to be underestimated.