Thursday, September 24, 2015

The rise and fall of India's AAP

Just a few months ago, India’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) swept to power in the Delhi State election with an unprecedented 67 of the 70 seats.

The party and its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, were heralded for halting the previously unstoppable juggernaut of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Observers claimed they were the coming force in the nation’s politics.

Instead, it quickly became clear the AAP, founded just three years ago, was a disaster waiting to happen.

Disagreements among the party’s leaders, papered over during the election campaign, emerged within weeks of the stunning victory.

nfighting, allegations of corruption, and counter-claims led to a number of prominent members being expelled. Then Minster of Law Jitendra Tomar was involved in charges that his legal qualifications were fakes.

Attempts by the party leadership to close ranks behind Tomar backfired when police produced clear evidence that his certificates were forgeries.

dengue fever outbreak in the capital was mismanaged to the point where the poor were being turned away from hospital because they could not pay for treatment — hardly a good look for a Government whose very name translates as the Common Man’s Party.

Worst was to come when two children died after being refused treatment at several hospitals and the distraught parents of one committed suicide.

Now the former Law Minister in an earlier short-lived AAP minority government in Delhi, Somnath Bharti, is on the run after his wife brought charges that he had assaulted her on a number of occasions and had tried to murder her.  

After being told by the Delhi High Court that he could not expect bail while the case against him proceeds, Bharti went underground and is nowhere to be found.

Tired of the constant waves of bad publicity, Kejriwal demanded that Bharti give himself up and cooperate with police, so far to no effect.

Battered AAP supporters say the problems lie with the political inexperience of most of its members and that things will get better. However, most commentators are in agreement that the fledgling party’s reputation has been damaged to the point where no repair is possible.

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