Arvind Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) released their manifesto for the February 7 Delhi election on Saturday.
After hearing the former Delhi chief minister speak on his action plan for Delhi, one feels that the party has certainly crossed its first test of maturity in politics. Kejriwal version 2 is politically sharper than what he was in 2013. [15 highlights of Kejriwal's 2015 Delhi assembly poll manifesto]
More than an ideological alternative
In 2013, the AAP was more of an ideological waste as it spoke more on issues like Swaraj and people's power as a better moral alternative to a tainted Congress. [AAP releases Delhi poll manifesto]
The position was politically unviable but ideologically attractive in a system which went into a depressing mood, thanks to a strong anti-incumbency against the then Manmohan Singh government.
Intense focus to tackle a tougher opponent
In 2015, the AAP's focus is more intense for it knows the character of the enemy is no more the same. This time, the Kejriwal brigade is up against a tougher opposition and to meet it, the AAP not only had to address substantial issues, but also needed to address them in an innovative way.
Development on AAP's agenda
Hence, the call for CCTV cameras for women's safety, Wifi-enabled Delhi, economic hub and betterment of the Yamuna. It is not that issues like power tariff, cheaper and cleaner water and river purification were not in the AAP's agenda before, but the party has come up with a better blend this time, knowing very well that it has a tough competition in hand.
Imitating Modi's style of politics?
So, did Kejriwal in a way imitate the style and content of Narendra Modi's development politics? Yes, he did for to fight an eight-month-old regime, the AAP can not really take the risk of guerrilla strategy as it had once done against the Sheila Dikshit regime in Delhi.
The AAP has come a full circle in the 2015 assembly election. But that has come at a price. Kejriwal has a bigger stake in the February 7 election than Modi for if he misses another chance to make a mark in the heart of the country, his political career might well be over. He is thus playing his second innings with great caution as a team does when following on in a Test match.
From an ideological populist leader, Kejriwal has transformed himself into a pragmatic populist one. Has he done it on time?
The results are due on February 10.