Intro: AAP will not be able to create a pan-India front confronting Narendra Modi at any rate in the next five to ten years. There are two reasons for believing so, the first being political, and the second dealing with economic-administrative issues.
This is childish; which party says that it openly espouses corruption? To which AAP supporters piously intone: 'All of them are corrupt!'. Building an all-India front requires the Aam Aadmi Party to reach out to allies. But it gets nowhere if it starts with the premise that everyone except the Aam Aadmi Party is sullied. The Aam Aadmi Party's phoenix act in Delhi came courtesy of the collapse of the non-BJP parties. In the Vidhan Sabha Elections 2013, Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) got less vote percentage. By the Lok Sabha polls of 2014 the Congress had BSP fallen to its least in Delhi. In February 2015 the Congress slumped to a vote share of 9.7 per cent of the votes, the BSP remaining more or less where it had been.
The votes lost by the Congress and the BSP went to the AAP. But in how many other states is there such a collapse of the non-BJP parties?
An obvious answer is Delhi's neighbouring State of Haryana. Just as in Delhi, the Congress was pushed to third position, behind both the BJP and Om Prakash Chautala's Indian National Lok Dal (INLD). Given the tainted image of both the Congress and the INLD— Chautala is currently in jail for corruption—the AAP can mop up votes from both.
Adjoining Haryana is Punjab, the State that gave the AAP the only four MPs that it has. In the last General Election the AAP contested 432 seats, and lost its deposit in 413 of those. Punjab was the saving grace for the party. But there is no election in Haryana before 2019, and the Vidhan Sabha elections in Punjab are set for 2017. The next State going to the polls, later this year, is Bihar. Nitish Kumar would be an ideal alliance partner for the AAP. But this is where the AAP holier-than-thou politics works against it.
This scenario is going to be repeated over and over again in other states. Neither the SP nor the BSP is acceptable to the AAP in Uttar Pradesh; neither the CPI (M) nor the Trinamool Congress is attractive in West Bengal; neither the DMK nor the AIADMK is available in Tamil Nadu.
In the immediate future, the AAP best hope is to rule Delhi so well that it becomes vote-catcher elsewhere, particularly in urban areas such as Mumbai or Bengaluru.
But can it govern effectively? Here is the second hurdle, the economic-administrative problems. At the heart of the AAP manifesto lie its promises to slash Delhiites' electricity bills by half and to supply 700 free litres of water to every household every day. It has promised other goodies — free wi-fi for Internet users, lower VAT rates for traders, more schools and colleges and hospitals — but electricity and water are the core issues.
Coal-burning plants in Delhi would never get environmental approval. A nuclear plant within a hundred kilometres of the capital is a security nightmare. Does the Kejriwal ministry want to set up hydel plants in Himachal Pradesh or Uttarakhand, or a thermal plant in coal-rich Jharkhand?
Once built—assuming they are built — what stops those states from claiming the electricity for their own purposes? When the Kudankulam nuclear plant was planned the idea was to supply power to Kerala, Karnataka, and Puducherry too but Tamil Nadu now says it needs all the electricity.
The AAP also released a White Paper on Delhi's water woes on January 27, 2015. Here, the only substantial suggestion is that Haryana will be made to supply water through the Munak Canal.
The Yamuna is as much the lifeline of Haryana as of Delhi. Haryana says it cannot provide more unless compensated with water from Punjab through the Sutlej-Yamuna Link, or perhaps from Uttarakhand or Himachal Pradesh. Even mentioning the Sutlej-Yamuna Link is guaranteed to raise tempers in Punjab.
Many believe that 'compromise' is a dirty word. True leaders know that it is the only way to get things done. Becoming a national alternative means that the AAP may be asked to compromise its stance of 'everybody is corrupt but us'. Providing good governance requires the Kejriwal ministry to compromise on its promises on electricity and water —or risk bankruptcy.
AAP will not be able to create a pan-India front confronting Narendra Modi at any rate in the next five to ten years. There are two reasons for believing so, the first being political, and the second dealing with economic-administrative issues.
TVR Shenoy (The writer is a senior columnist)