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Cautious AAP

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It is worth noting how carefully the Aam Aadmi Party has trimmed its sails in the run up to the Delhi assembly election. It is keeping its nose clean on issues such as the agitations in the universities, the CAA, NPR, NRC, etc. It is wary of these becoming polarising factors at voting time, which would very likely benefit the BJP. Also, very precious Muslim votes could be lost to the Congress. It is because of this that, for some time now, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has contained his anti-Centre rhetoric and disruptive behaviour. He would not like to lose any votes because of a straight forward popularity contest with Prime Minister Modi. With exit polls predicting a comfortable comeback for AAP, why court unnecessary controversy? This also indicates that Kejriwal has dropped his earlier national ambitions, at least for the time-being.

AAP is rightly banking on its performance on the ground. If its claims on mohalla clinics and better schools are accepted by Delhi’s residents, it would deserve a win. Hopefully, if such approval is given, it will encourage the party and governments in other states to focus on delivery rather than mere rhetoric. There are many issues on the basis of which AAP’s political ideology can be challenged, but the opposition needs to identify and articulate them properly. It can be argued that downright welfarism increases the beneficiary base, while reducing the number of people who pick up the bill. In the long term, this impacts adversely upon the economy. However, in politics – particularly of the AAP kind – who cares about the larger picture anyway?

Regional parties have also begun to note that the benefits of the BJP falling short of a majority, as in the case of Maharashtra, ultimately go to the Congress. Taking up cudgels against the Centre merely because of a national counter-narrative being sought to be built up will not prove a smart move. It is better to focus on each state’s particular concerns. This is one of the reasons why the attempts by the Congress to construct a national alliance to consolidate anti-BJP votes are being increasingly rejected. Regional parties would like to win on their own platform instead of becoming dependent on post-election tie- ups with the Congress. They are encouraged in this by the electorate’s increasing ability to distinguish between national and local issues. Hopefully, this trend will lead on to more intelligent and responsible politics.