Party’s wisest decision so far
Aam Aadmi Party’s decision to not contest any of the four upcoming assembly elections in Maharashtra, Jammu & Kashmir, Haryana and Jharkhand is the wisest choice the party has made in the last six months. In doing so the AAP leadership has finally acknowledged that it has limited resources. That it will now concentrate on Delhi — barring a couple of assembly bypoll seats in Punjab — is welcome. Delhi is where AAP had made a dream start. However, after running the Delhi government for 49 days, the party’s decision to quit and contest Lok Sabha polls across the country instead backfired spectacularly.
Hitherto AAP had been playing a high-stakes game. It leveraged social media and TV news coverage to punch well above its weight. Although its anti-corruption plank did receive public support initially, AAP leaders had little clue about governance. This was exposed during its short stint at the helm of the Delhi government. Between Somnath Bharti’s late-night bullying of African women, Arvind Kejriwal’s dharna and the party’s rigid stand on the Jan Lokpal Bill, AAP lost public support. Despite this the party thought it could increase its political space by making a mark in Lok Sabha elections. This clearly was not to be.
As a matter of fact, AAP’s decision to concentrate on Delhi should have been taken even before the Lok Sabha polls. Had it done so, it may have won a handful of the parliamentary constituencies in Delhi and the surrounding areas. However, the party became greedy and tried to scale up too fast. It must now focus all its resources on putting up a strong performance in the Delhi assembly elections whenever they take place. Given BJP’s rise on account of the Modi factor, AAP will certainly have its task cut out.
AAP blows it once again
Aam Aadmi Party’s national convenor, Arvind Kejriwal, says the party will not contest forthcoming assembly elections on account of a paucity of resources even though party workers in states headed for polls want to contest. For sure, Delhi is where it presents a significant challenge to other political outfits. Paucity of resources, however, did not deter AAP from branching out in the Lok Sabha election. Now, after having established a ground presence in pockets outside Delhi, AAP once again has chosen to change tactics on flimsy grounds.
AAP has had a meteoric rise despite an incoherent worldview and limited resources because it brought something new to Indian politics. The manner in which it inspired volunteers to campaign, particularly during the Delhi assembly elections, earned it grudging respect from political rivals. In AAP, disparate voters were offered an opportunity to support a party which showed that the toxic link between black money and elections could be broken. In one stroke, Kejriwal now seeks to undo the gains to the political process by restricting AAP’s electoral presence. The party’s impact has not been on account of an ideological breakthrough or fresh ideas to solve problems. Relentless public focus on election funding and corruption is where AAP’s influence shows up.
AAP may not be in a position to fare well in forthcoming assembly elections. However, a political party can influence policies without being in power. Articulating issues that older parties ignore is, in itself, a powerful way to influence public policy. However, that requires constant engagement with voters. It is constant engagement that helps a political party to move on from mouthing empty slogans to one that has a concrete work plan. This cannot come about in fits and starts. Sadly, AAP has chosen to miss an opportunity to deepen its influence.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.