As per the Times of India report published on 10 January, 2014, the saffron brigade led by the RSS is rattled with AAP’s growing popularity. This is in part due to survey conducted by same newspaper on Wednesday this week and part due to irreducible facts about the growing popularity of the AAP among the urban voters. Let’s not question the sincerity and genuineness of the surveyor and take the survey’s results at face value and accept for a while the facts published in the newspapers on 09 January, 2014: that the AAP is the most popular party in the big metropolitan cities of India. Why?
Because it advents and profuse populist curative policies? To some extent yes, but the reason behind the majority of support is due to the positive media coverage of the AAP. Can the BJP match that support among media persons? The answer is a definite no, but such is much desirable from BJP’s point of view. The argument that goes in favor of the AAP is that it is neither corrupt nor perceived communal by a majority of urban population in big cities.
What else? The fact is that in order to contain AAP’s possible negative effects on BJP’s prospects in the upcoming general elections, the latter needs to be flooded with positive inclusive ideas, it needs to be more vocal, it needs to have more people-to-people contact and spread its ideology maximally without appearing exclusivist at all.
Now things are not that rosy for INC either, though the party has managed to provide support to the AAP government in Delhi. If the INC is basing its calculation on the fact that by providing support to AAP in Delhi it can get reciprocal support back from the AAP as a regional party, then it might be proven wrong. The fact is that the AAP would opt more towards regional parties then towards either of the national parties as far as this general elections is concerned.
Sure, by INC supporting the AAP and with its inverse in big metropolitan cities they together can check the rise of the BJP to some extent and could jeopardize somewhat latter’s chance to form the government in New Delhi. But even in its minimalist effect, it would be a great victory for both the INC and the AAP in the upcoming elections. The way for the formation of a Third Front government backed by the INC from the outside would be much clearer then.
In a recent significant development the UPA ally and the NCP Chief, Sharad Pawar, has talk about quitting contesting the Lower House elections and instead preferring the Upper House of the Parliament way. He apparently gave reason of promoting younger faces in the party to quit contesting the elections, but later put forward candidly his candidacy for the post of the Prime Minister of India, should the INC candidate fail. Simply speaking, he has taken clue from example of the incumbent Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh.
Dr. Singh also belongs to the Upper House of the Parliament and this could have been one of the dominant reasons for him being the Prime Minister of India for more than nine and a half years and still continuing. By becoming a member of the Upper House of Parliament, Mr. Pawar, in his own opinion, would become lesser politicized and more open to future coalition politics in all possible ways.
On one extreme, Mr. Pawar could join the third front and the INC putting his leadership as the condition to support the third front from outside. On the other extreme, the UPA can make Mr. Pawar as its Prime Ministerial candidate as the last option to seek support from regional satraps. Of course, the actual steps would depend on the real positions in the next lower house of the Parliament. It should be noted that Mr. Pawar was former ministers in his various capacities in many INC governments, both at the Center and at Maharashtra state level before forming the NCP.
This is indeed a very shrewd move by both the INC and the UPA and one should remember that Dr. Singh in his press conference held on 03 January, 2014, expressed hope that the next leader of the nation would be chosen by the UPA. Therefore, the INC in recent days is playing its card very well.
Coming back to the AAP story after a short distraction. The fact is that AAP is a short-term phenomenon and therefore, in longer terms, it is not going to affect either of the national parties. But it is potent enough to minimally influence the results of the upcoming general elections in some parts of the country and be a king or queen maker, as the case may be. The fact is that the AAP is not like earlier BJP, as claimed by the BJP Goa Chief Minister, Manohar Parrikar, but it is more like the Janta Dal of 1987-91 flouted by former Prime Minister V P Singh.
That movement faded soon but AAP would have two lasting effects on Indian politics: the country would move towards lesser corruption and more inclusion. In that sense it would affect both the INC and the BJP, but in the long-term the party would reposition itself by dissolving in-between two main national ideological streams.