Taking Power in New Delhi, ‘Common Man’ Leader Talks of Revolution
New Delhi – There was no motorcade, and none of the traditional trappings of power: the leader of India’s upstart “common man party” arrived on a crowded metro train on Saturday to be sworn in as chief minister of Delhi, India’s capital. Tens of thousands of jubilant supporters watched as ArvindKejriwal, a mild-mannered former tax official, was anointed after a stunning electoral debut that has jolted the country’s two main parties just months before a general election.
The emergence of Kejriwal’sAamAadmi (Common Man) Party, or AAP, as a force to be reckoned with barely a year since it was created on the back of an anti-corruption movement could give it a springboard to challenge the mainstream parties in other urban areas in the election due by next May.
That could be a threat to the front-runner for prime minister, NarendraModi of the Hindu nationalist BharatiyaJanata Party (BJP), who is counting on strong support from urban, middle-class voters. “Today, the common man has won,” Kejriwal said in a triumphant speech at Delhi’s Ramlila grounds, the very place were huge protests over corruption erupted in 2011, opening the way for the birth of the AAP.
“This truly feels like a miracle. Two years ago, we couldn’t have imagined such a revolution would happen in this country.” In a December 4 election to the legislative assembly of Delhi, a city of 16 million people, no party won the majority of seats required to rule on its own.
The impasse that ensued was broken after the AAP – in a display of citizenship politics – consulted the people of the city. It then agreed to lead the Delhi government with “outside support” from the Congress party, which heads the national ruling coalition. (Reuters)