Resurgence of political parties after their electoral drubbing is never be ruled out, but the constant decline of AAP in public estimation gives but little hope for its recovery
It has been an unusually steep and humiliating slide for the Aam Aadmi Party ever since it had registered a spectacular electoral victory in the Delhi Assembly elections in 2015. It is being asked if the party is heading towards decimation.
After winning a whopping number of 67 seats in the 70-member House in Delhi, the reversal of fortunes for the party has been equally spectacular.
It must be pointed out that AAP buried every claim of alternative politics which consolidated its impressive debut. Arvind Kejriwal who cashed into his electoral gains on the legacy of Anna Hazare movement, settled down with corruption inflicted cabinet members and party activists. Anti-corruption crusader emerged as a canny political manager who easily shrugged off the corruption charges against his own ministers. This was substantiated by a complete retraction from the earlier demands of a robust Lokpal legislation—the single biggest electoral promise made by AAP.
Now Delhi Municipal Corporation results, in which the BJP has captured two-third majority, the AAP has only been made to lick the dust with a poor second position, clearly indicating the disappointment of common Delhiwalas.
Autowallahs were considered as the core voters of AAP 2015 that has completely changed by 2017. When Organiser approached an autowallah, Sanjay, he said, “Sir I voted for AAP in the 2015 Assembly elections but in MCD election I voted for BJP”. His reason for this change of preference was disappointment with the way AAP is doing politics in Delhi and general feeling is that of ‘being cheated’.
The writing on the wall was rather too clear since the Rajouri Garden Assembly by-election in Delhi in which the AAP forfeited its deposits in the face of an impressive victory of the BJP.
Quick on the heels the Janakpuri MLA Rajesh Rishi also went public ‘warning’ Arvind Kejriwal against a defeat because he was surrounded by a ‘coterie’, which reportedly did not give him “the right feedback”. The discontent in the party ranks has been too palpable to be overlooked.
In the MCD elections the AAP had completely relied on Arvind Kejriwal to repeat the 2015. A large number of posters in the city would only have him in the picture without even naming the party, leave aside the face of any other AAP leader.
Apparently Kejriwal sought to counter the Modi wave single-handedly without trusting any of his senior political aides. It caused widespread discontent among the party leaders as many of them even did not take part in electioneering, nor did they mobilise the party ranks.
Kejriwal’s last-minute gimmicks on spreading unwanted scare among the people of Delhi about the outbreak of Malaria, Dengue and Chikungunya if they did not vote for AAP were clearly rubbished by the people decisively.
AAP promised it will scrap property tax, but the move ended up looking like a cheap poll gimmick. It also couldn’t successfully sway voters towards it by highlighting what it called “insanitary conditions” in the Capital.
Much before the humiliation in Delhi, the AAP had had an egg on its face when it jumped into the Assembly elections in Goa and Punjab. Both the states decisively clipped the wings of the party leaving it completely woe betide. Voices of dissent are too vocal in Punjab where the party’s main leader Bhagwant Mann, MP from Sangrur, has openly expressed his displeasure at the manner in which the party affairs were being run in the State. Incidentally, in Punjab, the AAP has already split three times in the last two years.
Moreover, the persistent bluff of AAP on the EVM tampering belittles the democratic mandate of the people. The allegations of EVM tampering not only diminishes democratic ethos but also denigrates the objectivity and
professional commitment of the Election Commission of India. At a time when Russia shows its eagerness to conduct its next election with EVMs used in India, AAP has been asking for election through ballot papers.
Now that Delhi has practically shown Arvind Kejriwal and his party the door and reposed faith in the Modi mantra, will it be a death knell for the AAP.