India’s anti-graft Aam Aadmi Party may be laid low by corruption allegations: Analysts

Despite infighting, the departure of high-profile colleagues and multiple run-ins with the federal government over the past few years, Mr Kejriwal has ridden on AAP’s success in Delhi to grow the party beyond the state.

In April, the party won elections in the north-western state of Punjab, sweeping 92 of 117 seats. It also won five out of 182 seats in the western coastal state of Gujarat, Mr Modi’s childhood home town.

AAP’s presence in the two states along with Delhi and western Goa state, where it won two seats in 2020, gave it enough political presence to be recognised by the Elections Commission as a national party in April.

AAP will field candidates for 211 out of 224 seats in the May 10 elections in Karnataka, home to IT capital Bengaluru – the first time it is entering the fray in the state.

In a rally last month in Karnataka, Mr Kejriwal promised “a corruption-free government” while pledging to build good government schools and to provide quality education and free electricity.

But analysts noted that the alleged corruption cases could disrupt AAP’s traction. For one thing, Mr Kejriwal now has to focus more on governing Delhi in the absence of Sisodia, instead of campaigning in Karnataka.

AAP, which has been appealing to the Hindu right – the BJP’s core constituency – has also voiced support for Congress leader Rahul Gandhi after he was disqualified on March 24 as an MP following a two-year conviction in a defamation case.

But any move to potentially ally with the Congress party is also fraught with pitfalls, said Mr Praveen Rai, a political analyst at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies, Delhi.

“Its strategy of aligning with opposition parties that include the grand old party will not be pragmatic, as the AAP received huge support from citizens in 2012 due to its strict stand against the corruption scandals of Congress,” said Mr Rai.

The charges included irregularities in the awarding of contracts for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, which was hosted by India.

“The alliance may or may not electorally benefit the AAP, but it certainly runs the risk of losing its hard-earned political legitimacy.”


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