Indian media: Is AAP ready to rule the country?

Analysts are not sure whether Arvind Kejriwal has enough political experience Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Analysts are not sure whether Arvind Kejriwal has enough political experience

India's media are asking whether the new Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has the potential to head a national government after its leader Arvind Kejriwal resigned last week as Chief Minister of Delhi after only 49 days in power.

He stepped down when his attempts to introduce a new anti-corruption bill were blocked in the city's legislative assembly.

The AAP made a surprisingly strong showing at state elections in Delhi last December by promising to fight corruption, and now has ambitions to repeat its success against major political parties at a coming general election.

Many commentators, however, feel that Mr Kejriwal has not yet proven that he is capable to lead a central government.

An editorial in The Hindu accuses him of simply using Delhi as "a stage for his theatrics, a campaign platform". "The thrust was on politically exposing the Congress and the BJP, and not on solving the small, everyday problems of Delhi," writes the paper.

The Times of India agrees, saying that Arvind Kejriwal's resignation was aimed at making him "a martyr in the anti-corruption cause" and "spring boarding AAP" to success in the general elections. The paper, however, warns that the party's "49 turbulent days" in power will hardly impress voters. AAP "hasn't addressed any of the systemic roots of corruption, not to mention other areas of governance it needs to tackleā€¦. the Kejriwal theatre won't play to packed houses across India," the daily concludes.

In the Hindustan Times, columnist Vir Sanghvi writes that Mr Kejriwal, in his last days as chief minister, had been a populist, "a cross between a revolutionary Che Guevara-like figure and a generous Santa Claus who forgave his supporters' unpaid electricity bills".

"Voters want a Union government which can heal the economy as well. It is probably too late for Kejriwal to persuade voters that he has a route map towards more food on the table," says MJ Akbar in the Deccan Herald.

It seems like The Tribune is one of the few that praises Mr Kejriwal and his party. "AAP's rise has changed the way politics is played in this country," the daily argues, adding that among the party's achievements were "the ban on VIP culture", the setting up of an anti-corruption helpline and a power and water subsidy for the needy.

'Pepper spray' MP

Staying with politics, Meira Kumar, the speaker of the lower house of India's federal parliament, has complained to a disciplinary panel after a lawmaker attacked his colleagues with a pepper spray during a ruckus in the house on Thursday, The Indian Express reports.

The panel can recommend measures "including imprisonment and expulsion from the house", the paper explains.

The Times of India welcomes Ms Kumar's move, and says that it "must be followed up with an immediate change in the parliament's security protocols" to prevent legislators from bringing dangerous objects into the building.

"Should an MP decide to smuggle in a Molotov cocktail tomorrow, India could experience its own Guy Fawkes moment," the paper says.

Penguin India row

Meanwhile, The Times of India reports that two authors have asked publisher Penguin India to withdraw and destroy their books.

Jyotirmaya Sharma and Siddharth Varadarajan are unhappy that Penguin India has given in to demands from a protest group to recall and destroy American scholar Wendy Doniger's book "The Hindus: An Alternative History".

"I no longer have the confidence that Penguin will stand by my book, 'Gujarat: The Making of a Tragedy'," the report quotes Mr Varadarajan as saying.

And finally, there is rising concern in the US about the quality of cheap medicines imported from India, according to The Indian Express.

India, the second-largest exporter of over-the-counter and prescription drugs to the US, "is coming under increased scrutiny by American regulators for safety lapses, falsified drug test results and selling fake medicines," the daily says.

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