Bad press follows AAP's brief honeymoon

Party that made stunning electoral debut is coming in for media criticism weeks after coming to power in Delhi.

    Bad press follows AAP's brief honeymoon
    The AAP rode a wave of popular support and won 28 seats in Delhi in December assembly elections [Reuters]

    The leadership of Aam Admi (Common Man's) Party that rules Delhi is getting the stick from the media, which showered it with praise not too long ago.

    Several of its leaders, including a Delhi minister, have come in for some unflattering coverage, and internal disagreements within the party are hogging headlines on television news channels.

    An AAP legislator's allegation that Delhi chief minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal was a "liar" has dominated air waves. Kejriwal's defence that the legislator was disgruntled for not being made a minister got far less coverage.

    Somnath Bharti, another Delhi minister, has also been making news for the wrong reasons. Newspaper and television headlines in recent days have focussed on strictures that a local court passed against him earlier for "trying to tamper with evidence in a case". He also is being accused of yelling at policemen for refusing to raid a house used as a brothel.

    The AAP-led Delhi government has also come in for criticism on other fronts as well. 

    Kejriwal has had to abandon plans of holding  weekly Janata Durbar (open public meets) after his first meeting ended in chaos and near stampede. The chief minister has subsequently faced media criticism for going back on his pledge.

    His decision to roll back foreign direct investment in multi-brand retail has also drawn flak. Criticism of the decision by some AAP insiders like Captain Gopinath - who formerly owned low-cost airlne Air Deccan and recently joined the AAP - has received blanket coverage.

    Formed little more than a year ago in the wake of an anti-corruption movement, AAP made a stunning electoral debut in Delhi, winning 28 of the 70 assembly seats. It formed the government after the Congress party extended support to it.

    AAP generally was the darling of the media in the run-up to the polls with Kejriwal being hailed as a game-changer.

    Stung by the bad press, the AAP defended itself on Thursday.

    "Which party in india within 15 days of coming to power has managed to reduce the price of electricity by half, provide free water and suspend officials who were complicit with corruption?" asked an AAP spokesman at a news conference.

    Opposition advantage

    The AAP’s discomfiture is to the advantage of the major parties – Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party – as they feel threatened by the spectacular rise of the newcomer. 

    Though it may be difficult to prove, observers feel that the constant disruption that has accompanied AAP ministers wherever they visit could be the work of the dirty tricks department of the opposition parties.

    Indicating more troubles in store for the AAP,  newly-joined member Mallika Sarabhai, a noted dancer and Kumar Vishwas who is planning to challenge Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in his home turf Amethi got into a verbal altercation.

    Sarabhai questioned Vishwas’s credentials, asking him to explain his praise of the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi  on YouTube. She also reportedly accused him of being anti-women, anti-minorities and a misogynist.

    Reacting to the charges,  Vishwas said he was not answerable to anyone and everyone among the 10 million people who were joining the party.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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