From a movement that began as an anti-politician one, Arvind Kejriwal did well to set up a political party since governments have to be run by elected representatives, not do-gooders who bear no responsibility when things go wrong. Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) refusing to form a government despite its tremendous vote-share didn’t really help since, though a political party, a large number of voters really saw AAP as an anti-politician party. While AAP promised a lot of things to a lot of people, it’s fair to say Kejriwal’s well-publicised disconnecting electricity meters and AAP’s promise to halve electricity bills is what captured the public imagination. Now that AAP has decided to form government, it has made the final transition to being a political party. For one, it has realised that, to be in politics, you need to make alliances. Two, it will realise that, since the electricity regulator has been scrutinising costs of all three private power distribution companies (discoms), it will be difficult to reduce bills by half by fiat.
It is not clear if Delhi’s electorate will be impatient if Kejriwal fails to deliver on his promise to cut electricity bills by half—several regional parties have managed to stay in power for two to three terms even though their performance has been quite poor when judged by various economic criteria. What’s important is whether AAP is seen to be doing the right things. In the case of electricity, merely implementing the Electricity Act of 2003 to give consumers genuine choice will be a big enough first step. Big ships don’t reverse course overnight—that will be both AAP and Delhi’s voters next big lesson.