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Fledgling party to form government in Delhi

December 23, 2013

NEW DELHI (AP) — A new political party pledging to uproot corruption from Indian politics announced Monday that it will form a government in the capital city.

The Aam Aadmi, or Common Man’s Party, won 28 of Delhi’s 70 assembly seats, short of a majority, in polls held earlier this month. It initially said it would not form a minority government.

The party’s executive Arvind Kejriwal, a former civil servant and anti-corruption crusader, said that the Congress party, which lost many seats in the elections in Delhi and three major states, decided to support Aam Aadmi’s minority government with eight seats it holds in the assembly.

His announcement ended two weeks of speculation and fears of a hung assembly in Delhi.

The main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party won 32 seats but no other political group was willing to offer it support.

Kejriwal said his party received an overwhelming response in an online poll asking people whether it should take office, with more than 750,000 saying yes.

The fledgling party’s success stems from its singular focus on eliminating corruption that plagues all levels of India’s government, from top officials and government ministers to minor bureaucrats demanding bribes for basic services.

The party symbol — a broom— and its promise to sweep the administration of graft went down well with the capital’s population fed up of venal politicians, runaway inflation and slowing economic growth. The Congress party has been blamed for widespread corruption.

The BJP accused Kejriwal’s party of betraying the people of Delhi with his links to the Congress party.

“Arvind Kejriwal has compromised his principles for power. The people of Delhi had voted against the Congress. This is a betrayal of the people’s wishes,” said Harsh Vardhan, the BJP’s top leader in Delhi.

In a rocky start to their relationship, both the Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress had differing views on the nature of their alliance.

The AAP announced that the support from the Congress was “unconditional.” Within hours, senior Congress leader and Delhi’s former chief minister Sheila Dikshit denied this. “We are not giving them unconditional support. We are only giving them support from outside. The support will be based on performance,” she said.

The new government will be sworn in on Thursday.

Update hourly