Indian media: Learning from AAP's success

Arvind Kejriwal has been under intense media spotlight since taking office as Delhi's chief minister
Image caption Arvind Kejriwal has been under intense media spotlight since taking office as Delhi's chief minister

Media in India feel the debutant Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) government in Delhi is likely to toughen the competition for other parties ahead of next year's general elections.

The AAP, or Common Man's party, won 28 of the 70 seats in the assembly polls and formed a government in Delhi with support from the Congress.

Led by former civil servant Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP was born out of a strong anti-corruption movement that swept India two years ago.

The AAP's strong anti-corruption stand has forced the ruling Congress Party and the main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to make statements against corrupt practices in the past few days, papers say.

This was evident when Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi recently criticised his own party's government in the western state of Maharashtra for its reluctance to accept a judicial report on a housing scam in the state.

The Congress "appears to have woken from its slumber", says The Times of India, noting Mr Gandhi's latest move.

"Rahul is now not only prepared to admonish party leaders, but would prefer them to address the very issues - sound and clean governance - the neglect of which cost the party dearly in November assembly elections," the editorial says.

But the paper remains sceptical of Mr Gandhi's move, saying "it is doubtful whether presenting Congress as an organisation willing to embrace change will work wonders for it at this late juncture" ahead of next year's general elections.

Simultaneously, the AAP's rise "opens up the political field as it signals more competition" for established parties, the paper adds in another editorial.

The Pioneer hopes that established political parties will "learn a lesson", and says the Congress "must re-invent itself if it wishes to remain relevant".

The paper also advises the BJP to "view the victory of the AAP as a message from the people" that the main opposition party is not the only alternative to the Congress.

The Hindu welcomes Mr Gandhi's stand on the housing scam, but adds that it "will not be enough to rid the Congress of its image as a party prone to denying or covering up wrongdoing".

The party's senior members "need moral fibre of their own and should not expect correctives to be handed down through its leader's selective and sporadic interventions", the paper says.

'Legal identity'

In the meantime, requests and demands have started pouring in from the public just two days after Mr Kejriwal took oath as Delhi's chief minister.

And Delhi's street children were the first to send an official demand to Mr Kejriwal, saying their condition is "far worse than that of the common man" and their needs more basic than cheap electricity or water, The Times of India reports.

Helped by an NGO called Badhte Kadam, the children have sought legal identity, protection for their rights, participation in government meetings on matters relating to them, and action against those who employ child labourers, the report says.

Moving on to other news, internet search giant Google says in its updated Transparency Report that content removal requests from the Indian government shot up by 90% between July and December 2012, compared to the preceding six months, the Hindustan Times reports.

The requests reflect "growing unease among authorities of what they view as objectionable content", the paper says.

And finally, scientists have invented a mobile phone application which will produce beeping sounds to warn Indian fishermen against straying into Sri Lankan waters, The Pioneer reports.

Sri Lankan authorities often arrest Indians for crossing the maritime boundary while fishing, and this is a sensitive issue between the two countries.

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