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PEOPLESPEAK

There is a new kid in the block of Indian politics who has, upon arrival, emerged as the giant killer. The success of the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi assembly elections is at an obvious level a symptom of the erosion of the Delhi votersí trust in the established political formations. Large sections of the electorate in the nationís capital no longer believe that either the Congress or the Bharatiya Janata Party is capable of representing them and their interests. Clearly, the AAP has successfully created a non-Congress and a non-BJP political space. There is the hope of a new kind of politics. For the nonce, it remains a Delhi phenomenon and, therefore, also an urban one. The AAP is the product of a peculiarly Delhi ambience. Delhi, since 1947, has evolved as the immigrantsí city. People from various parts of India have come to live there; the original Dilliwalla has disappeared. The AAP in one sense is an expression of this heterogeneous populationís aspirations to carve out for itself a civic-political realm that is free from the shoddiness which has tainted Indian political parties. Its anti-corruption and transparent platform struck a chord among voters.

This Delhi context of the emergence and the success of the AAP raises questions about its role elsewhere in India, especially in the rural world, where the issue of corruption may not be that important. Delhi, in spite of being the capital, may not be the microcosm of India. The replication of the AAPís success even in other urban centres cannot be considered without keeping in mind the strong wind of anti-Congressism that blew across Delhi. The vote was against the Congress and some people preferred a new political entity that promised to make a difference over the Congress and the BJP. The BJP needs to be aware of this as much as the Congress. One immediate consequence of the AAPís success is the problem being faced regarding government formation in Delhi. The giant killer, because it rejects cynical options, may turn out to be the great hurdle. Even if this turns out to be true, nothing can diminish what the AAPís success signifies. It shows that there is life yet in the old Adam of Indian democracy. The agents of democracy ó the people ó are capable, albeit belatedly and only in pockets, of generating corrective measures. The iron has not entered the soul of the Indian voter.