Editor's note: When it was inaugurated in November 2012, the Aam Aadmi Party symbolised an experiment in audacity; Jacobin radicalism wrapped in a muffler. It windmilled its catapult in the direction of the grand old goliaths of India's political pantheon, signalling its intent to dismantle the prevailing order. Three years later, on 10 February, it succeeded in felling the Philistine giant, seizing 67 of 70 seats in the Delhi legislative Assembly — 32 of which were held by the ruling BJP, and eight by the Congress. In the year that has elapsed since, AAP has pendulated between triumph and failure — some of its shimmer has dulled, and yet it is encrusted with new jewels; the muffler is frayed at the edges, and still it flutters as the pennant for an alternative form of political engagement.
It has lost much of its original flock, while gathering new, unlikely adherents to its scrappy, DIY dogma. The party is marking its anniversary revelries by launching a massive self-congratulatory campaign 'PehlaSaalBemisal (one wonderful year)' to draw attention away from the disappointments, and instead enumerate all that it has achieved. We shouldn't grudge AAP its birthday bash because that's what every party does: glorify its performance on the ground. But when it comes to politics, AAP came in with the promise of a difference, of ringing in an era of alternative politics. AAP has left out that aspect of its promise from its anniversary achievements narrative. To understand this aspect of the party, and the bearing it has on alternative politics in India, Firstpost has invited writers to assess AAP’s performance against its founding principles.