While the launch of the party brought out committed followers of the movement, many are skeptical about its prospects in a country where parties command the loyalty of voters on the basis of caste and ethnicity. The AAP is trying to be an umbrella party with issues and ideas that would appeal to everyone, such as corruption and accountability. But will these translate into votes?
One of the party’s supporters at the rally on Monday, Rajesh Gupta, is a businessman who says that he hopes the party’s plank would make people rise above caste and communitarian patterns of voting. “Vote-banks are not fixed,” he says, “If they were, we wouldn’t see governments change.”
Zoya Hasan, who teaches at the School of Social Sciences of the Jawaharlal Nehru University and has studied party systems in India, says it is early days yet to tell whether the party will make any electoral impact.
“At the moment, it doesn’t look like they are going to matter in the elections. Their keywords – common man, people’s rule – are all borrowed cliches of Indian politics,” she says. Their vision document contains nothing new, she says, except for the promise of decentralizing power.
Yet the leaders of the party have surprised analysts before. In the runup to the formal launch of the party, Kejriwal and his lawyer colleague Prashant Bhushan leveled attacks on powerful people over corruption. These included the Congress party president Sonia Gandhi’s son-in-law Robert Vadra and the richest Indian, industrialist Mukesh Ambani. Mr. Vadra and Mr. Ambani are not often questioned even by the media. Further corruption allegations some weeks ago against the chief of the Bhartiya Janata Party, Nitin Gadkari, have resulted in a crisis that the party is yet to recover from.