The Broom, the Muffler and the Wagon R: Aam Aadmi Party and the Politics of De-elitisation

  • Jyotirmaya Tripathy (Author)

Identifiers (Article)


This paper explores the new alternative politics popularised by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as an antidote to the conventional politics that plague Indian democracy. It locates this politics not in an already constituted framework like other caste-, community- and class-based political parties, but as a performative construct articulated through the symbols of the broom, the muf-fler and the Wagon R. Contrary to the understanding that AAP leaders are fully evolved com-mon men, it is proposed that their commonness was a product of these symbols. These repre-sentational devices are made to resonate among the people through a carefully orchestrated spectacle of de-elitisation. This process involves both disavowal of the elite Self and a kind of reverse mimicry of an irrational other. It is this strategy that successfully converts administra-tors, academics, lawyers, etc. into appearing as one of the common people. The paper argues that the characteristic features of the common man found among AAP leaders are not natural conditions but manifestations of what may be called self-othering.