The Aam Admi Party and Indian Politics: Winners and Losers
The Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) spectacular victory in the New Delhi state elections is a continuation of the churning in Indian politics. It presents a warning for both the main national political parties but particularly to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which won equally spectacularly in the national elections last summer and in a series of state elections subsequently. The AAP’s prospects beyond New Delhi are still unclear and its path is likely to be difficult, especially because this will depend at least partly on its performance in Delhi. The AAP represents both the future and the past of Indian politics: it is responding to a politically weak but growing and restive middle class that has not yet found a political party home, while its ideology, especially on economic policy, represents a failed past.
The AAPs victory is not record-setting in the Indian political context, but it is close: its 67/70 seats result has been bested only twice, both times in Sikkim. In 1989, the Sikkim Sangram Party won all 32 seats in the Sikkim state legislature, a feat repeated twenty years later in 2009 by the Sikkim Democratic Front. But nonetheless, considering the importance of New Delhi, the fierceness of the campaign in which Prime Minister Modi himself took part, and the BJP’s performance in the recent national elections (when it won all seven seats from Delhi), the result was a clear defeat for the BJP.