Out of 434 seats on which Aam Aadmi Party had contested in 2014 general election, they won only 4. As all of these came from Punjab, political observers started betting for the victory of AAP in the state elections. Taking the cue from this exaggerated extrapolations, Arvind Kejriwal pumped all of his and his party’s energy for the state elections. It resulted in Aam Aadmi Party turning the assembly election in a high volatile personal battle. Moreover, throughout the run-up to the election, all of the party’s spokespersons maintained it as a clean sweep for the AAP. Even most recently, Arvind Kejriwal shared his internal survey analysis in which party was set to win 93 out of 117 constituencies.
However, on the result day when AAP could manage only less than a quarter seats it predicted, the two questions which are pertinent:
1. Why did AAP lose so badly?
2. Does AAP still have any credibility left?
There is an inherent message to Kejriwal from the people of Punjab. I will try to decode the message and answer these questions in next few paragraphs.
There is no first mover advantage in politics!
Starting early in Punjab, AAP targeted SAD as the patron of the drug mafia in the state. The goal post was Sukhbir Singh Badal’s brother in law Bikram Singh Majithia. Through his express twitter posts and nukkad rallies, Arvind Kejriwal leveled continuous allegations against the incumbent government. Midway, when Captain Amarinder Singh joined the fray and tried to capitalize on the narratives created by AAP against SAD, Kejriwal chose to attack him by alleging his involvement in various cases of corruption. This confused the people of Punjab. A two-year-old party hurling accusations on 2 stalwarts of Punjab politics turned serious allegations of AAP into politically motivated noise.
No organizational structure for AAP in Punjab
Though AAP tried to create an organizational structure in Punjab, it relied heavily on its Delhi Unit. In early February, all Delhi ministers except one were campaigning in Punjab. It also gave a hint to the people that once AAP wins Punjab, most of these ministers would seek a backdoor entry in the Punjab cabinet. The rumours such as Kejriwal resigning from Delhi to be the chief minister of Punjab did not help AAP either.
Only the Anna Andolan Party
Apart from orchestrating a huge non- political movement against the corrupt congress government, there is no achievement of AAP till date. Their two years’ rule in Delhi is disastrous. Daily accusations of Modi for his non-performance did not go down well with the people of India. It also made people of Punjab apprehensive of AAP’s governance.
Beginning from the disrespecting of Guru Granth sahib to Kejriwal’s homestay at a Khalistani militant’s house AAP was surrounded by controversies throughout the campaign.
Having explained all these, loss and win are parts and parcels of politics. What made this astounding defeat of AAP shocking, was the utmost conviction with which all the party’s spokespersons claimed resounding victory of the party till the result day. There was a buzz that AAP had already put hoardings congratulating people of Punjab for its victory in state elections.
Can a Party be so horribly wrong in predictions? Can it remain in denial mode for so long?
There is no denying that the supreme commander of Aam Aadmi Party is always surrounded by yes-men. He quickly and ruthlessly tames down any dissent. The ouster of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan is one such example. Therefore, either no sensible person finds a place in his inner circle or no one dares to speak anything against him. During the state elections of Punjab and Goa, these yes-men took their sycophancy to the next level by assuming the supreme leader’s prediction as the final verdict and spoke authoritatively in favour of it.
This setback should be another wake call for the party for course correction. If you see Aam Aadmi Party withdrawing from Gujrat elections and focusing more on Delhi administration, you may assume that the party had introspected. If not, then you may assume that the Delhi is the only state AAP could ever win.