Overcoming The Odds Will Be A Huge Challenge : Can The Aam Aadmi Party Reinvent Itself?

In Delhi these days the echo of Kejriwal is being heard everywhere. On radio it is Kejriwal, in the metro it is Kejriwal, on auto rickshaws it is Kejriwal, on hoardings it is Kejriwal. It is Kejriwal everywhere. The reason for this is that the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections are a question of the Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP’s) very existence. The problem is there is nothing left  with the Aam Aadmi Party other than the face of Kejriwal. The party workers are disappointed. Barring a few, all small and big leaders of the party are worried about the future. Many old associates have left the party. A retreat of MLAs and senior workers from the party has also begun. The most dangerous thing is that the public is too is now indifferent to the party. Party leaders feel that the party today is standing at such a turn where even a shock received in the elections could make the party a relic of history. The question is: will the Aam Aadmi Party become a one time wonder or will it succeed this time in saving its credibility?


lead-128There is a lot of difference between 2013 and the upcoming Delhi Assembly elections. In 2013 Kejriwal had come before the people as a new and ‘activist’ leader. People had expectations from him, had hopes. The truth used to be reflected in what he said. When he spoke, it seemed that he understood the problems and pains of the common people. He was a hero in people’s eyes. But in politics just one day is enough to change everything. Here a whole year has passed. In the last one year everything changed in the politics of Delhi and Delhi saw a Chief Minister who sat on ‘dharna’ (protest sit-in). Saw Ministers conducting raids in the darkness of the night. Saw leaders’ politics. Saw trickery. Saw leaders claiming to end VIP culture living in big bungalows. Saw Ministers travelling in big cars purchased with the public’s money. And then, in a desire to become the Prime Minister, saw a leader kick the Chief Minister’s chair. The moves, behaviour and language of the Aam Aadmi Party did not appeal to the public. The Aam Aadmi Party’s leaders themselves crushed the principles and morality they themselves had espoused. This is the reason that in the Lok Sabha elections the public of Delhi completely rejected the Aam Aadmi Party. The party couldn’t win even one seat. The question is : will the Aam Aadmi Party be able to make up for the loss in the Lok Sabha elections? To answer this, let’s first analyse the results of Lok Sabha elections…
Before the Lok Sabha elections, the Aam Aadmi Party’s claim was that it will win all the seats in Delhi. Witihin the party too the thinking was there that all the seats of Delhi will land easily in their lap. That is why many journalist friends of Arvind Kejriwal entered politics and contested the elections from Delhi. Their assessment was that during the Government of 49 days, Arvind Kejriwal had done such amazing work that the party would win all the seats in Delhi easily. In politics, the biggest enemies are off the mark assessment and over-excitement. It was the result of an inaccurate, off the mark assessment that led Kejriwal to feel that country wide too he would get the same kind of response which he had got in theDelhi Assembly elections. The party’s assessment was that nobody would get a majority in the Lok Sabha elections and in such a case if the Aam Aadmi Party wins even 50-60 seats, then Kejriwal, in the politics of coalition, would become Prime Minister of the country. The result of an off the mark, inaccurate assessment and over-excitement was that not only did the chair of Delhi slip out of the party’s hands, but country-wide too security deposits of Aam Aadmi Party candidates had to be forfeited in more than 400 seats.
The Aam Aadmi Party lost badly to the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Lok Sabha election in Delhi as well, but from the side of Kejriwal the argument is still being given that in the Lok Sabha elections the vote share of the party has increased. Spokespersons of the party are proudly describing defeat as victory. It is of course correct that in Delhi the Aam Aadmi Party got more votes in the Lok Sabha elections than in Assembly elections, but it cannot be called a better performance. This argument would have been correct if the vote share of the Bharatiya Janata Party would have decreased from that in
the Assembly elections or would have remained
the same.
Now let’s look at the numbers. The Aam Aadmi Party’s vote share in the Assembly elections of 2013 was 29 per cent, which in the Lok Sabha elections it increased to 33 per cent. Meaning an increment of 4 per cent took place in the vote share of Aam Aadmi Party. But it is noteworthy that the vote share of the Bharatiya Janata Party also increased. The BJP got 33 per cent votes in Assembly elections of 2013, which increased to 46.4 per cent in the Lok Sabha elections. Meaning that an increment of merely 4 per cent took place in the vote share of the Aam Aadmi Party, whereas in the vote share of the BJP the increment was of 13.4 per cent. Now when there is a direct fight between the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party inDelhi, then only a fool only can say that the performance of Aam Aadmi Party has improved.
If these figures are seen in votes, then the situation becomes even clearer. In the Delhi Assembly elections, the Bharatiya Janata Party got a total of 26,04,100 votes and the Aam Aadmi Party got 23,22,330 votes. Meaning the BJP had got 2, 81,770 more votes. But in the Lok Sabha elections where the Aam Aadmi Party got a total of 27, 22,887 votes in Delhi, the BJP got a total of 38,38,850 votes. Meaning the BJP got 11,15,963 more votes. If the Lok Sabha elections are seen from the Assembly constituencies angle, then out of 70 seats in Delhi, in 60 seats the Bharatiya Janata Party will victoriously hoist its flag and only 10 seats will go into the account of the Aam Aadmi Party. In 70 seats of Delhi, the average lead of the BJP is 15,942 votes. From the view of Assembly elections, a lead of more that 15,000 is a large lead.
The striking thing is that in the New Delhi Lok Sabha constituency area considered to be a stronghold of the Aam Aadmi Party, where in the Assembly elections it had won 7 out of 10 seats, there it got defeated by 1,62,708 votes. According to the Lok Sabha election results, the Aam Aadmi Party lost in all those 10 Assembly seats. It was the same situation in West Delhi. Here, out of 10 Assembly seats, the Aam Aadmi Party had control on 4, but in the Lok Sabha elections it lost here by 2, 68,586 votes. In the Lok Sabha elections the Aam Aadmi Party trailed behind the BJP in all 10 Assembly seats. Meaning that the results of the Lok Sabha elections were most disappointing for the Aam Aadmi Party. Kejriwal lost all 7 seats badly. On every seat, the defeat of the Aam Aadmi Party was by more than 1 lakh votes.

The reason for the defeat in the Lok Sabha elections was the pre-January 26 dharna. The party kept giving thousands of arguments, but people understood that whatever Kejriwal did, he did to save Somnath Bharti. Kejriwal was exposed. The party has neither policies, nor any map for the future and no honesty to stay faithful to its promises. In the matter of the bungalow and car too the party fell from the eyes of the public. In the Lok Sabha elections, a big part of the middle-class became distant from the Aam Aadmi Party, because its 49 days Government had disappointed this class very much. If the middle class doesn’t come back to support it, then for the Aam Aadmi Party the Delhi Assembly election will prove to be itsWaterloo.
There is a possibility of Assembly elections taking place in Delhi in February 2015. On February 14, 2014 Kejriwal had submitted his resignation from the post of Chief Minister. After one year Kejriwal seems to be excited at the prospect of sitting once again on the Chief Minister’s chair. The dates for elections have not yet been announced, but the Aam Aadmi Party has already come into full election mode. The day the decision came that elections will take place in Delhi, from that day itself the eagerness of Kejriwal became evident. The eagerness was such that Kejriwal announced himself as the candidate for the Chief Minister’s post, and alongside also decided who the BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate would be. All over Delhi, posters of Kejriwal vs Jagdish Mukhi were put up. On every FM radio of Delhi, feverish promotion of Kejriwal is going on. In every promo there is only one appeal — that Kejriwal be made Chief Minister. The question is whether the public of Delhi is ready or not to give another chance to Arvind Kejriwal.
The BJP suffers from a lack of leadership in Delhi. This is the reason that it will not announce the name of a candidate for the Chief Minister’s post straight away. In this election, Narendra Modi will be the face of the party. In Varanasi, Kejriwal was defeated by Modi and in the present atmosphere in the country, there is not much sense in taking on Modi directly. That is why the Aam Aadmi Party made a strategy to respond to this. The party gave a slogan of Modi for PM and Kejriwal for CM. A strategy was made to not attack Modi but only target the BJP and the leaders of the Delhi BJP. For this a video was made. Interviews were fixed on TV channels. All anchors asked the same question : in Delhi is it Modi vs Kejriwal that is going to take place? Everytime Kejriwal answered that the people of Delhi are saying Modi for PM and Kejriwal for CM. Modi has become the Prime Minister and now again there are preparations to make Kejriwal the Chief Minister.
Not only this, on the website of the Aam Aadmi Party too this campaign was launched. A photo of Modi was also put on the website of the Aam Aadmi Party. Soon after all this was posted on the website, the game over turned. It began being publicised on the social media that the Aam Aadmi Party has bowed down before Modi. People started saying that Kejriwal has accepted defeated from Modi before the elections themselves. Some TV channels also started running the news. As soon as it became known that this campaign has backfired, Modi’s photo was immediately removed from the website and the video was deleted.
After this, the Aam Aadmi Party has been organising meetings called ‘Delhi Dialogues’ to attract the middle class and youth. The format of the programme is good, but it is a matter of concern that the participation of common people is missing, with mostly party workers being visible.
Kejriwal knows very well that the youth and middle class of Delhi have gone away from the Aam Aadmi Party. If these sections don’t come back, then it will become difficult for the Aam Aadmi Party to win more than 10 seats. That is why the party is putting its agenda forward by holding Nukkad meetings. The Aam Aadmi Party is making promises of improvement in school education, establishment of 20 new colleges, loans for students, 8 lakh jobs, vocational training to 10 lakh people, Wi-Fi facility, reduction in VAT tax, sports facilities, de-addiction and installation of CCTV cameras in the whole of Delhi. But there is nothing is new in this. All political parties make such promises.
All this may sound good, but the public wants to know what did you do on all these issues in the Government of 49 days? Besides, the Aam Aadmi Party presents these promises like the beautiful dreams of Mungeri Lal. Take the example of improvement in education. The party says that it will improve Government schools so much that rich people too will start sending their kids there. Now how will this happen…will there be a change in syllabus or else, by taking a test of teachers, will the party remove the teachers appointed during the Congress tenure? Till now all this is a mystery. Similarly, take the promise of opening 20 new colleges. This promise was made last time too, but for colleges where is the land with theDelhi Government? Kejriwal will also be asked why, during the Government of 49 days, did your Education Minister, Manish Sisodia, try to put constraints on the enrollment of students coming from outside to study in Delhi? Most of the students coming to study in Delhi are from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
Nowadays a lot of campaigning is being done on radio that the Aam Aadmi Party, after forming a Government in Delhi, will install CCTV all over Delhi and on the phones of every woman and girl a button will be provided which can be used to call the police. But is law and order in Delhi under the jurisdiction area of the Delhi Government? Every single person in Delhi knows that the Delhi Police works under the Central Government. Because of such false promotions the Aam Aadmi Party has become a villain in the eyes of the middle class. But it seems as if the party is helpless out of sheer habit.
The biggest concern of the party is rebellion and protests happening in the party. With regard to candidature for the upcoming elections, there is turmoil in the party. Some people have even left the party. Some joined the BJP and some are forming new parties in preparation for entering the election field. The complete list has not yet come, but it is believed that out of 70 candidates of the Aam Aadmi Party who contested in the 2013 Assembly elections, around 35 people are not going to get a ticket this time. Amongst them more than 10 are MLAs. The question is, what will the above 35 candidates do?
Murmurs of rebellion and protest have started being heard. However, all parties have to face such situations. It has always been a challenge for a party leadership to manage such protests. The strength of Kejriwal’s leadership quality will be known by how well or otherwise he manages this. What the Aam Aadmi Party had said about politics on the basis of political values, that itself is being encircled by its own contradictions. The complaint of party workers is that this time, why weren’t candidates decided by asking the public. If a ticket was not given to any MLA or candidate, then was a referendum held or not for that. Coming into his third election, Kejriwal’s talk of changing politics has evaporated. By doing immature, naive and impractical things in politics only losses happen. It is hoped leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party understand this.
Actually, apart from support from slums and Muslims, in the last one year everything has changed in Delhi. The Aam Aadmi Party will have to mould itself to this changing political scenario, will have to change its language, will have to change the attitude of its leaders and will have to stop calling everyone brokers-thief. In the last Assembly election they were new. People didn’t know about their schemes, ideology and leadership. In people’s eyes they were revolutionaries born out of the Anna movement. That is why the public forgave their many mistakes and people had many hopes from them. But, their 49 days Government and the Lok Sabha elections gave the people of the country, especially the people of Delhi, a chance to understand them. The people of the country are intelligent. The way in which forceful campaigning by Kejriwal is being carried out, the opposite effect is taking place on the middle class. The image of the Aam Aadmi Party is becoming cemented as an immature, power hungry and ambitious party. People have started understanding that without power, the Aam Aadmi Party is teetering on the very edge of its existence. Elections are likely to take place in February, there is time yet. It remains to be seen how Kejriwal brings back the middle class and youth who have gone away from the Aam Aadmi Party.
In the upcoming Assembly elections, if the Aam Aadmi Party becomes successful in winning more than the 28 seats it won in 2013, then its credibility will be saved. The political stature of Arvind Kejriwal will be re-established. In times to come Arvind Kejriwal can be seen as an alternative to Modi. But if in the upcoming Assembly elections the Aam Aadmi Party’s seats decrease from 28, then it can prove fatal for it. If the BJP doesn’t get a majority and once again the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party are in the situation of forming a Government, then it may also happen that in place of Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia can rise as Chief Minister. If the Aam Aadmi Party gets less than 20 seats, then its existence will end. The leaders and workers of the Aam Aadmi Party itself will raise questions on the leadership of Kejriwal and the process of migration from the party will start. The Aam Aadmi Party has got hemmed in by the walls of principles and values made by itself. In the party, apart from Kejriwal, there is no other person who can give leadership to the party organisation and its workers. The political history of Kejriwal till now reflects immaturity and inexperience. The politics of India is passing through a crucial phase. In this scenario, only a leader who is mature, experienced, soft-spoken, with ideologically sound views and has the tolerance
to bear criticism can become an alternative. Sadly, Arvind Kejriwal doesn’t have these qualities.

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