In the Indian elections, the anti-corruption party AAP hopes to win at least one seat in Delhi. Activists are dancing for their top candidate.
Election marathon in India: Parliamentary elections last six weeks Photo:
At half past three on Friday afternoon, the last convoy of party supporters sets off in Delhi ahead of Sunday’s elections. It will be the sixth of seven voting days in India’s marathon six-week election. On Viskas Road in east Delhi, activists are dancing with brooms for their top candidate, Atishi Marlena. She is seen as having a good chance of winning her Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) first parliamentary seat in Delhi.
The capital sends seven deputies to the 543-member national parliament. The symbol of the Anti-Corruption Party, whose name translates as "Party of the Common Man" and which emerged from the anti-corruption movement in 2012, is a broom.
In 2013, the protest party was elected to Delhi’s city parliament. The capital is the AAP’s stronghold. Candidate Atishi Marlena has proven her abilities. She helped reform education in Delhi’s public schools. "The AAP has improved hospitals, electricity supply and much of the administration," says Hassan, a 55-year-old physiotherapist, watching the goings-on. He doesn’t want to give his last name. He is satisfied with the work of the AAP in Delhi. Still, he says, it will be difficult to push the candidate through.
"The AAP is competing too much with other parties in Delhi," he says. The newcomer AAP is fighting against two major popular parties here – the traditional Congress Party and the Hindu nationalist BJP. Even though Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal belongs to the AAP, enthusiasm in the capital is high for India’s incumbent Prime Minister Narendra Modi of the BJP. The latter wants a second term.
Campaigning against Atishi
In the last general election in 2014, Delhi was swept by the Modi wave. All seven constituencies went to his BJP, which is now more committed than ever to a Hindu agenda. Atishi’s politics, on the other hand, are not religiously motivated. An Oxford-educated teacher, she joined the AAP in 2013. For three years, she worked for the Delhi government for a token fee of one rupee a month as an adviser to the education minister. Now she wants to score points with health policy and education work and is particularly popular with the middle class.
"Because she has a good chance of winning political office, a scandalous campaign is being waged against her," says journalist Arfa Khanum. In anonymous leaflets, Atishi is denounced, for example, because she is married to a Christian who eats beef – a taboo for Hindus. But Atishi’s supporters are not swayed by this: "I support her because she stands for honest politics, which India needs," says AAP member Richa Pandey Mishra.
Atishi himself explains the popularity of Hindutva ideology, which is used by the BJP, with the high unemployment in the country. Queer activist Sambhav K. S. also thinks the AAP should be given another chance. "It is a good option". Nevertheless, he is disappointed at one point: What the AAP lacks so far is a stand against minorities such as the Dalits (the casteless) or the LGBTQI community.