The AAP’s “clean sweep” in Delhi Assembly Elections

facebooktwittergoogle_pluslinkedintumblrmail

Memo #327

What it means for India

By Asim Arun – asimup [at] gmail.com

Arun_APM- AAP_photoThe Aam Aadmi Party (AAP, Common Man’s Party) landslide victory in the Delhi Assembly polls this month is a rare instance of a civil society movement succeeding in democracy’s ultimate test: elections. The AAP is the child of the “India Against Corruption” movement that reached a crescendo in 2011 under the leadership of Gandhian Anna Hazare. Thousands of people joined in across India but the demand for Lokpal, a powerful anti-corruption ombudsman, was not satiated by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government. Differences among the leaders of the movement led to its break up, stimulating a large chunk to form a new political party (the AAP) under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal.

Adopting the broom as its symbol, the AAP brought with it a new political vocabulary of transparency, humility and, honesty. In the Delhi state elections of December 2013, AAP surprised many by bagging 28 seats in the 70-member assembly. After considerable contemplation, AAP formed the government with Congress’ outside support. In 49 days Arvind Kejriwal, Chief Minster, realized the futility of running a coalition government without the majority to steer the crucial Lokpal law and resigned. But in those 49 days, Delhi saw some sweeping changes—a dismantling of VIP culture, pragmatic technology based anti-corruption measures and an accessible and open government. Corruption visibly declined.

Delhi went to the polls again this February and the AAP won a stunning 67 out of 70 seats. Arvind Kejriwal is again CM, this time with an outright mandate. But what does this mean for India, generally?

It can be expected that the Lokpal Act will be one of the first legislative creations of the new Assembly and anti-corruption measures will roll out swiftly. As the Delhi State government’s actions feature prominently in the media there shall be pressure on governments of other states as well as the federal government to follow suit. When Delhi’s ministers and bureaucrats shun the trappings of power—beacon lights on cars, police bodyguards and, government bungalows—it will be difficult for the “VIPs” elsewhere to continue with their privileges. Political parties will be under pressure to introduce transparent funding mechanisms like the AAP’s. In short, the existing ruling elite will be under pressure to reform.

Asim Arun is pursuing an MA degree in Public Policy (Asia Pacific Studies) in the MAAPPS at the University of British Columbia while on a mid-career break from his job as an Inspector General with the Indian Police Service.

If you enjoyed this memo, subscribe to our e-newsletter for free and receive new memos weekly via email.

 

AAP leader and now Chief Minister (Delhi State) Arvind Kejriwal carries his party’s telling symbol: the broom (credit: Indo-Asian News Service).

AAP leader and now Chief Minister (Delhi State) Arvind Kejriwal carries his party’s telling symbol: the broom (credit: Indo-Asian News Service).

Image02: Arvind Kejriwal speaks at an AAP rally in Bangalore (credit: Delhiite Rock).

Image02: Arvind Kejriwal speaks at an AAP rally in Bangalore (credit: Delhiite Rock).

Links:

 

Related Memos:

See our other memos on India and South Asia.

Nǐ sǐ wǒ huó (“You Die, I live”): Xi Jinping’s Anti-Corruption Campaign as Power Consolidation

Pacific Prospective features the research of graduate students.

Memo #295

By Elizabeth MacArthur – e.macarthur [at] alumni.ubc.ca

In a speech made shortly after coming to power in the fall of 2013, Chinese President Xi Jinping famously vowed to crack down on CCP and State corruption by “upholding the fight against tigers and flies”. Over a… Continue reading

Afghanistan Elections: Why Should We Care?

Memo #284

By Dur-e-Aden – dur-e-aden [at] hotmail.com

This week Afghans headed to the polls to help usher in a transfer of power from one democratic government to the next. While some observers hail this as a major achievement, others worry what lingering issues of rampant Taliban violence, ethnic politics, widespread corruption and fraud during the… Continue reading

Downton Abbeystan: Why Central Asia is like Twentieth Century Upper Class England

British TV series Downton Abbey follows the Earl and Countess of Grantham in early twentieth century England as they endeavour to save the immense family estate. Viewers have been enthralled by this fictitious upper class English family’s efforts to make successful marriages for their daughters to ensure the estate remains in the family’s hands—at the time, daughters could not inherit titles and the properties that went with them. Continue reading

Political Parties and Islam in Indonesia: A Religious Façade

Memo # 178 – Portrayals of Indonesian political parties have classified them as either secular or Islamic. This implies that they hold strong core commitments. But Indonesian parties do not espouse a coherent political program during elections. Islamic and secular-nationalist parties alike appeal to the public with populist slogans. Controversial religious issues, such as the role of Sharia law or the status of the Ahmadiyah Islamic sect – which could differentiate parties along clear secular-religious lines – are ignored on the campaign trail. Contrary to mainstream analysis, religion plays a minimal role in Indonesia’s party competition. Continue reading

The Indonesian Education Dilemma: High Test Scores or Genuine Learning?

Memo # 175 – Indonesian students perform consistently poorly in international surveys. In the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey,1 more than half of 15-year-old students were found to be lacking sufficient skills in reading literacy to enable them to participate actively and effectively in society, to be functionally literate. The background to this dire situation is complex. But the examination system may be an important contributing factor. Continue reading

Managing South Asia’s Himalayan Rivers: A Human Development Framework

Memo #164 – What would an ideal regulatory system to manage an international river look like? Some have called for an innovatively designed regulatory authority for international rivers, such as the Ganga-Brahmaputra river system in the Himalayan region. Existing models are not compatible with the geopolitical conditions in South Asia. Rather than furthering traditional nationalist approaches, the new design must take into account the people living in the region. Continue reading

Mongolian Election: Bumpy Road, but Heading in the Right Direction

Memo #161 – Elections are milestones in democratic development. With the closing of nominations on June 6, 2012, the campaign for the Mongolian parliamentary election officially opens. Observers seem pessimistic about Asia’s only post-socialist democracy. But the upcoming election promises to be more carefully organized and transparent, and public discussions of corruption will strengthen democracy. Continue reading

Will “Nepal Investment Year” Solve its Hydropower Puzzle?

Memo #139 – By some estimates Nepal has the potential to generate 42,000 megawatts (MW) of hydroelectricity per annum. In an effort to attract capital, Nepal’s Prime Minister Baburam Bhattarai proclaimed 2012 as “Nepal Investment Year.” The aim is to attract over $6 billion (USD) for key sectors including hydropower. Bhattarai also signed a Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPPA) with India. Continue reading