The lambent rise and shameful fall of AAP

Aam Aadmi Party came into limelight with its electoral win at 2015 Delhi elections, where it sweeped the election putting BJP to shame.

The BJP has reversed its dismal showing in the 2015 Assembly elections with a convincing victory in this year’s municipal elections, whose results were announced on Wednesday.

The Arvind Kejriwal led AAP has every reason to be worried as it has lost half its share from the 2015 Assembly polls, when it had netted 54.3% of the votes to take home 67 of 70 seats.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP has every reason to be worried as it has lost half its share from the 2015 Assembly polls, when it had netted 54.3% of the votes to take home 67 of 70 seats.

Initial estimates suggest the party has bagged just 26.21% in the civic elections. This is less than what it had garnered in the 2013 Assembly elections (29.49%) and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections (32.90%).

In the 2013 Assembly polls, AAP had won 28 seats. It did not contest the 2012 civic elections, and saw an increase in the three subsequent elections. This time around, it has seen a sharp decrease in the vote share, by more than half.

Leaders put up a brave face, saying it was not fair to compare civic elections with Assembly and Lok Sabha polls. They also said it was not correct to write the party’s obituary yet.

Will AAPtweak its go-alone strategy? Will it bring back old hands who have left the party? Several questions arise as it stares at the prospect of a challenge to its leadership, including Kejriwal.

The recent Rajouri Garden bypoll, where its candidate lost his deposit in a sitting seat, and now the civic poll results indicate that AAP has squandered its hard-earned political capital in less than five years of its formation. The latest drubbing comes just two months after its ambitions of winning the Punjab and Goa Assembly elections collapsed.

The leadership is singing the “EVM manipulation” tune, even as the party wonders how to win back the confidence of the Delhi voters, who have perhaps indicated that it should shed its confrontational politics.

Once a darling of the middle class, AAP now has to fight the impression that it is willing to abandon Delhi for greener pastures like Punjab.

The main reasons as why AAP fall can be briefed as such:

  • AAP had an ambition to become a national party and also Kejriwal’s hurry to become the centripetal force as the face of opposition against PM Modi at national level proved detrimental in Delhi. AAP went all out in Punjab, Goa and announced plans to contest Gujarat and Himachal as well. With Kejriwal, the only visible vote catcher for the party was stretched in other states and voters of Delhi again saw their CM everywhere but in the national capital.
  • Also they did a ‘negative campaign’ by threatening votes and saying ‘Dengue equals to BJP’ to blaming the EVM, they focused mainly on highlighting the negatives of their opponents rather than focussing on projecting the good works they have done.
  • The middle class which massively supported the AAP in 2015, saw Kejriwal’s campaign against EC and EVMs as a mere excuse for a party unable to digest its defeat.
  • The rift among the AAP leaders in which many washed dirty linen in public about their spat and disagreements with the party supremo Arvind Kejriwal. It was also evident during the MCD elections. MLA from Bawana Ved Prakash quit the party to join BJP, every day the speculation of more following the suit hurt the party’s credibility.Another MLA Rajesh Rishi cautioned party chief against ‘sycophants’ and used twitter as his platform. The biggest blow was a video by senior leader Kumar Vishwas who not only kept away from the Party’s campaign for crucial MCD polls but also released a video slamming his own party on the issue of corruption. Till last day of campaign stories about AAP MLAs jumping the ship only contributed to voters’ perception of implosion in Kejriwal’s unit.
  • They didn’t offer anything new during the election campaign.Unlike the last election in 2015, AAP could not present any new narrative which may have caught the voters’ imagination. Apart from waiving off property tax, party did not bring anything worth remembering and even this agenda took a back seat with their constant tirade against EC and Election Commission.
  • The writing on the wall came for AAP after the humiliating defeat in the Rajouri Garden bypoll. The bypoll result, just days before the MCD voting had a massive effect over the voters’ perception.

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