Delhi crown won, but major challenges await Kejriwal after AAP sweep

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New Delhi: “People of Delhi have mandated themselves. The verdict is for self-rule. Today hope triumphs,” said senior Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Ashish Khetan, reacting to his party’s unprecedented landslide victory in Delhi assembly elections.

Khetan tried capturing people’s mood, but there are risks ahead. “BJP has lesser seats than the 14 needed to be of any effect in the assembly. This will mean AAP has an unbridled run in matters of governance,” constitutional expert SK Sharma told HT.

Even AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal admitted that the mandate he had got was too big and scary. Major challenges await the AAP. With such a massive mandate, it will have to go much beyond merely reducing power bills and providing free water or legislating its flagship jan lokpal and swaraj bills to check corruption.

The party is committed to building 20 new colleges, 2 lakh public toilets and 47 fast-track courts, besides promising bus marshals, 5,000 new buses, 8 lakh jobs, 30,000 beds in hospitals, and free WiFi across the city.

Many say the party’s earlier innings was marked by sit-ins, conflicts with public utilities and a power struggle with the Centre. Will that change?

“I fail to understand why media projects that we took to streets, willingly and happily. We did it when a woman was burnt alive and police refused to act. Did we do anything wrong? This is also how you serve people,” said senior party leader Manish Sisodia.

He said the focus would be on providing a trustworthy government that will make Delhi India’s first corruption-free city. “We will fulfill the needs of the people. We will complete what we couldn’t in our previous innings,” Sisodia said.

AAP feels Kejriwal has the personality to ensure good governance as well as protest for something that is in the interest of the people.

The first thing the party plans to take up is cutting electricity costs and ordering an audit of power companies, said policy expert Atishi Marlena.

This time around, however, the party is looking at permanent solutions.

The other two poll promises that the party intends to attend to on priority are women’s security and free WiFi.

“These two promises were very important for the party. CCTV cameras and marshals in buses might be among the first few things the party takes on,” Marlena said.

But has AAP promised more than it can accomplish?

“We have spent months speaking to experts. We know how to implement these ideas,” Khetan said.

The promotion of former Apple executive Adarsh Shashtri signals a subtle move to have a good blend of competent professionals with politically viable people, especially when AAP is looking to shift from an anti-corruption brigade to a party offering WiFi and CCTV networks.

“We have professional competence for decision making and delivery,” said a senior AAP leader.

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