General elections in India are scheduled to be held on May 31, 2014, but ripples of change in the echelons of power have already been felt across India.
Delhi assembly elections that concluded Sunday left many political pundits and Congress, the ruling party, stunned by an strong show of power by the newly-formed Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Common Man’s Party.
Aam Aadmi Party, launched on Nov. 26, 2012, was the result of growing differences between Anna Haazare and Arvind Kejriwal, social activists involved in the anti-corruption movement. Hazare wanted to keep the movement politically neutral while Kejriwal was of the opinion that the movement couldn’t pass anti-corruption legislation without direct political involvement.
The decision eventually bore fruit. Since splitting away with Hazare, AAP seemingly has gained considerable popularity among the voters, which culminated in a jaw-dropping performance in the recently concluded Delhi Assembly elections.
Although BJP (Bharatiya Janata Paty), with the support of their controversial future Prime Minister hopeful Narendra Modi, won 70 per cent of the total seats, the emergence of AAP as the second largest party in Delhi assembly has sent tremors across India.
Some view this sweeping change as a positive sign.
“Now it is Modi vs. the underdog Kejriwal. India needs new faces; this is the only way forward,” said Navjot, a Surrey resident.
Some are also pinning the future of India-Pakistan relations on the outcome of elections.
“I don’t want to see Modi as the future PM of India. This will spell disaster considering he belongs to the politically and religiously extremist BJP who have always maintained a war narrative between India and Pakistan,” said Kumar, an international student at SFU.
According to Sharma, a Delhi resident, “Yes, Modi has been good for Gujarat [State]. He managed to divert his resources from advocating Hindu nationalism to economic development and prosperity, but his election as the PM of India will not bode well for India-Pakistan relations. I hope AAP continues to gain momentum. Although Kejriwal becoming a PM in the next general elections is a long shot, I can only hope that people vote a new moderate face.”
People seem to praise Modi for his economic policies and development programs in Gujarat, but are weary of seeing him as the PM of India because he is a controversial figure.
“How can someone forget Modi’s role in the Gujarat riots? This also is reflective of his dislike towards Muslims. If he becomes the PM, I do not see him forging friendly relations with Pakistan,” said Hemanshu, an international student.
Politicization of youth has instilled a renewed sense of optimism and hatred against the status quo.
“I hope this is the sign of much awaited change in Indian politics. We are fed up with corruption in India and the war posturing. I hope AAP can transform this win into a major landslide victory in the general elections, said Rajiv Shukla.
Youth, it is apparent, want a corruption-free India and cordial relations with Pakistan, both of which have escaped India for a long time.
AAP’s surprising success in the Delhi elections seems to have injected some hope in the politicized youth of India. They hope that a new party, with an anti-corruption agenda, can drive home with their policy to purge India of corruption and forge friendly relations with Pakistan.