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India's AAP seen as political party with potential

Questions are being asked of the future of India's fledging anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) after a crushing defeat at the general elections. But some have said the party can be a relevant force in Indian politics.

NEW DELHI: Questions are being asked of the future of India's fledging anti-corruption Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) after a crushing defeat at the general elections. But some have said the party can be a relevant force in Indian politics.

The arrest of their party chief Arvind Kejriwal for refusing to pay a bail bond on defamation charges has only added to their recent difficulties.

Kejriwal had led his party to a stunning victory in the Delhi assembly elections in December, winning 28 of its 70 seats.

But the AAP failed to replicate their success in the lower house elections, winning only four seats this time round.

Their party chief was then arrested on Wednesday after he refused to pay a bond for bail in a criminal defamation complaint filed against him by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Nitin Gadkari.

Despite these setbacks, party leaders said the AAP remains a relevant force in Indian politics.

Manish Sisodia, AAP party leader, said: "We have done commendable work towards cleaning politics in India.

“Many a political heavyweight today feel intimidated by our presence; they are now scared to induct members with tainted backgrounds. As far as the number game is concerned… I don't think we were a part of this game during this election."

The party had raised important issues such as corruption, crony capitalism, and a lack of accountability in governance throughout their campaign.

But analysts attributed their failure to the party's “over-ambitious” social welfare plans and a lack of economic agenda.

Political analyst N K Singh said: "Modi is almost harping on the same issues on which the Aam Aadmi Party stands, but because of the large size of (Modi’s BJP), the masses could be convinced because of these infrastructures.

“Arvind could not do it in a short period, but in the days to come if Modi fails to fulfill these aspirations, the void will be filled by Arvind Kejriwal."

The presence of the young party made every politician sweat it out for votes in the lower house polls.

Analysts, however, feel the AAP needs to start afresh and repackage itself for the future.

N K Singh said: "I am sure that the Aam Aadmi Party's future is bright, provided they try to live up to the public aspirations and leadership becomes collective. That is the precondition for its success."

By fielding 440 candidates across India, the party has at least succeeded in laying the foundation for future electoral battles.  

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