Abstract: The Aam Admi Party (AAP; Party of the Common Man) was founded as the political outcome of an anti-corruption movement in India that lasted for 18 months between 2010–2012. The anti-corruption movement, better known as the India Against Corruption Movement (IAC), demanded the passage of the Janlokpal Act, an Ombudsman body. The movement mobilized public opinion against corruption and the need for the passage of a law to address its rising incidence. The claim to eradicate corruption captured the imagination of the middle class, and threw up several questions of representation. The movement prompted public and media debates over who represented civil society, who could claim to represent the ‘people’, and asked whether parliamentary democracy was a more authentic representative of the people’s wishes vis-à-vis a people’s democracy where people expressed their opinion through direct action. This article traces various ideas of political representation within the IAC that preceded the formation of the AAP to reveal the emergence of populist representative democracy in India. It reveals the dynamic relationship forged by the movement with the media, which created a political field that challenged liberal democratic principles and legitimized popular public perception and opinion over laws and institutions.
Keywords: Aam Admi Party; India; India Against Corruption; Janlokpal; political representation; populism