An Indian view on history, current affairs and politics

June 1, 2023

Why AAP’s brinkmanship maybe it’s Achilles heel

“Sheila gone, Modi next”, screamed headlines of a national daily quoting AAP leaders. Buoyed by their unexpected success, the exuberance of AAP leaders is understandable, however going by their utterances on news channels, seems they’re taking this seriously.

AAP’s debut in Delhi is spectacular given that they’re just a year old party. A party made up entirely of volunteers, although a sting earlier by media-sarkar showed this may not be true, campaign driven by nukkad sabhas, concerts and massive social media propaganda seems to have conveyed the message to their targeted audience. They need to be congratulated for this performance.

AAP got the dream start in Anna’s Janlokpal andolan and extracted the maximum mileage piggybacking it. Anna’s agitation was apolitical and hence got wide support, from industry, bollywood, media and several organisations including the RSS. This gave Kejriwal the publicity, exposure, support and funds he needed to launch AAP.

There is massive anger in the country against the ruling congress government at center. Incompetence, arrogance and corruption of monumental proportions coupled with sheer brazenness in defending the scams has built up an anti congress wave in the country. The Sheila government in Delhi was just an extension of that government. AAP had perfect grounds to launch their campaign. Given the momentum from Anna agitation, clean image of Kejriwal, palpable public anger against congress, Delhi was theirs for taking. Unlike BJP, they were new and had no history behind them to be answerable for.

Let’s leave the history aside for a moment. A month prior to Delhi elections, AAP was at top of almost all opinion polls while BJP was languishing at third place. BJP had nominated Dr. Harshvardhan as its CM candidate who only had 4% approval rating against Kejriwal’s 44%. AAP’s internal survey was pegging the party tally between 47-56 seats. and yet AAP could not go beyond 28 while BJP emerged as the single largest party. Delhi was the epicenter of Anna agitation and AAP was expected to do its best here. Poll data proves AAP mostly ate Congress and others vote share while BJP remained largely intact.

Kejriwal’s risk against Sheila might have paid off and i concede the fact that only he could have defeated her. She epitomized everything that was wrong with congress. Elitist leader aloof from people’s woes and indifferent to corruption and incompetence, she had to go and thank god she went. But a resurgent BJP under Modi is a different ball game. BJP has given good governance in states they’ve ruled and they’ve achievements to back their claim. People’s satisfaction is manifested in third term for BJP in Gujarat,MP, Chattisgarh and landslide victory in Rajasthan. Going into 2014, BJP has solid achievements to back their claim for the top job. AAP can not only rely on complaining  against government and corruption, a plank already takenover by BJP on national scale. People would not want to vote a party whose only achievement is a hung assembly.

The Modi wave was instrumental in these elections and can be cited as one of the reasons why AAP lost to BJP. Internal AAP survey concedes 48% of their voters will vote for Modi. The way Arvind Kejriwal is celebrated in Media reminds me of Rahul Gandhi after 2009 election results. Politics is a long road littered with gravestones of brilliant flashes similar to AAP. They need to be careful lest they may end up as yet another promise that failed to live up to expectations.