- POSTED: 20 Dec 2013 20:45
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The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), making waves in India on its anti-corruption platform, has yet to develop a clear economic agenda despite aiming to participate in next year's national elections.
NEW DELHI: A political party, formed to fight corruption, stunned India with its maiden performance at the recent Delhi state elections.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was so encouraged by the popular support it received that it is now aiming to participate in next year's national elections. However, there are some who say the party is not quite up to the challenge.
The AAP prides itself as being a party for the common man. It was formed only a year ago but is already making waves in India on its anti-corruption platform.
The party won 28 of the 70 seats contested at the recent Delhi state assembly elections, ousting Congress which has ruled the capital for 15 years.
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal is now eyeing the national elections that are due in May.
However, critics point out that the AAP lacks a clear economic agenda, at a time when soaring inflation is a hot election issue. The party itself admits to the problem.
"The day we formed the party, we had also formed 35 committees on different subject matters,” said AAP leader Somnath Bharti.
“One of the committee was to consider and advise on economic policy. Now economic policy, what it would or not be, is the domain of that committee and that committee has yet to come up with its recommendations."
Strong support for the AAP has been fuelled by its populist policies, promising cheaper water and electricity for Delhi residents at the last state elections.
Congress Party leaders believe that strategy will eventually backfire.
Congress Party leader Sanjay Nirupam said: "The whole economic program of AAP is based on freebies like he (Kejriwal) is promising -- 700 litres free of cost water to each and every one.
“As far as my knowledge is concerned, the international standard is 150 litres per capita, which we are not able to provide that much also. So what is the use of 700 litres, and free of cost?
“Electricity bill he is suggesting… 50 per cent cheaper. So it is based on freebies, it is very difficult for any government to sustain."
While AAP is positioning itself as an alternative to the two political bigwigs in India, it clearly still has a long way to go. The new party needs to expand its outlook if it intends to make a mark beyond Delhi.
One way it can do that is by developing a clear economic policy, since that is likely to be a decisive element in the outcome of next year's general elections.