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India’s upstart party preaches anticorruption. What else does it stand for?

By March 12, 2014 No Comments

One of the founders of the Aam Aadmi Party resigned yesterday. The party’s popularity has surged, but its candidates espouse an almost farcical range of policies

Ajit Solanki/AP

When Ashok Aggarwal yesterday quit India‘s newest political party, which he had helped set up in November 2012, he took a parting swipe at his erstwhile allies.

“The movement seems to have become directionless, causing doubts in the minds of people and even in people like me,” he wrote in his resignation letter. The vision of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), or Common Man Party, founded on a staunch anticorruption platform, has “taken a back seat” to personal political ambitions, he charged.

Mr. Aggarwal’s resignation showcases some of the difficulties the AAP faces in trying to channel popular frustration over political graft into success at India’s upcoming national polls. The parliamentary elections in April and May are widely considered the most important in years and, given its surge in support, the AAP is expected to be in whichever coalition government emerges. But its slate of candidates is a grab bag of contradictions – leaving open the possibility that its pitch to voters may be undone by its differences.

“It is for sure that the AAP will be the wild card in the upcoming elections,” says Delhi-based political analyst Neerja Chowdhury. Opinion polls put the party at between 6 percent and 14 percent.