Long walk to government

After the initial rush of adrenalin and stunning upsets in the Delhi assembly election, now there is a sense of impasse with none of the three major players in a position to form the new government.

Though the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been able to cash in on the anti-incumbency sentiment and emerged as the largest party with 31 seats in the 70-member assembly, it still lacks majority, the magic number of 36. The second largest party, the maverick Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that had a dream debut with 28 seats, relegating the ruling Congress to a poor third, has just enough to show that though a fledgling, it is still a power to reckon with. And yet, it too doesn’t have the mandate to form the government, especially as its chief Arvind Kejriwal has, till now, ruled out the chance of allying with the BJP or Congress. If Kejriwal sticks to his decision and the BJP, with just one ally so far also declines to make a bid for the hot seat, the capital will face President’s rule. Re-election would be the logical choice since it would be a mistake for the AAP to align itself with the unpopular Congress, that has become synonymous with corruption, or the BJP, whose ultra-right stand would have been rejected by the voter had the Congress governed well or had there been an alternative to it.

The AAP will have to mind its ps and qs very hard to retain the favourable impression it has made so far. It has raised public expectations considerably with its electoral promises. Along with the offer of cheaper electricity and free water, there is the pledge for clean and efficient government. The new broom will find it a herculean task to clean up the Augean stable of corruption, nepotism and double dealing that is Delhi politics. The AAP should therefore steer clear of partnerships with parties infamous for horse trading and go its own way, steady, though slow. As things stand now, opting for re-election would be the best bet for it. The discerning voter would then have to choose between it and the BJP and the party emerging as the strongest would have a clear mandate and therefore, the strongest hedge against manipulations that have been recurring in Indian coalition politics. A re-election is likely to be a judgment day for the Congress unless something drastic happens to put the electorate off the two parties it has favoured. If the Congress gets even fewer seats in the re-election, it would be a clear indication of which way the wind is going to blow in the 2014 general election.

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