The AAM Army

Victory march Aam Aadmi Party workers celebrate the fledgling outfit’s stunning performance in the Delhi Assembly polls, Photo: Arun Sehrawat

They were the underdogs. The political idealists that everybody counted out. No one truly believed that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would be able to compete with two established political parties — the Congress and the BJP — in the Delhi Assembly election.

Before the triangular contest, the Congress remained smug; the BJP was confident of an outright win. Sample the statements that were made in prime-time debates: “They should have remained a pressure group, they would have been able to do more”; “Arvind Kejriwal is making a mistake taking on Shelia Dikshit, he can’t beat her”; “If they get even 10 seats, it will be a miracle!”

However, within a year of its formation, AAP has proven everyone wrong. Kejriwal obliterated former Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit from the New Delhi constituency. Though the fledgling party did not win the Assembly polls, it managed to gain 28 (of the 70) seats by fighting on an anti-corruption plank. As the issue goes to press, Kejriwal & Co are asking the citizens of Delhi for their opinion on whether they should form the government.

AAP’s success has come as a breath of fresh air. The party has busted the myth that one needs money power to fight elections. Not only did they collect campaign funds from the people, they relied on volunteers who had left their jobs, homes and families. Many had travelled across continents to come and work for the brand-new party.

According to a report published by the Association for Democratic Reforms, 10 of the 28 AAP candidates who won in Delhi have declared personal assets ranging from Rs 20,800 to Rs 13 lakh — proof that you no longer need personal wealth to enter and triumph in Indian politics.

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