Why Aam Aadmi Party Lost The Haystack?


  The results of 2014 Lok Sabha Elections (LSE) would hurt the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) volunteers and supporters the most and what would even hurt them more is how AAP was ruthlessly rejected by the Indian voters. Even if it hurts, after every fall, the first thing to do is find out the reason and hence the way forward for AAP is complete, total & ruthless ‘INTROSPECTION’. There has been written a lot about the reasons for the defeat, but as a supporter, I needed to put down the reasons.

The emergence of AAP, heralded by an IIT graduate Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, after the Delhi Legislative Assembly Elections (DLAE) was like sun rays breaking through the grim dark clouds that shrouded the Indian political scene. It was impressive to see AAP winning 28 out of 70 seats in the 2013 DLAE amounting to a vote share of 29.5% vote. A commendable performance by the newcomer.
The long forgotten style of agitation – Dharnas and Civil Disobedience – were brought to the forefront by AAP. The agitation style took the other political parties by surprise and was jolted out of their apathy. A party still in its infancy forced everyone to sit up and take notice. The anti-incumbency/anti-corruption move was used as the needle to jab the corrupt Government. The revolutionary movement caught the fancy of common wo/men and as the public frenzy poured out onto the streets, it was reminiscent of pre-1947 movements. The raising of prickly issues got AAP the 28 seats in the 2013 DLAE and the time had come for them to take forward the people’s struggle and keep finding more and more needles in the haystack.
It is never easy to rid the haystack of the proverbial needles, but at least the voters in 2013 DLAE gave AAP a chance for attempting the clean-up. Seeing the positive response in 2013 DLAE, it was expected of AAP to put up a good fight if not an another impressive show in the 2014 LSE. So, instead of finding more and more needles, how did AAP end up losing the haystack itself? Haystack was lost, namely because of some immature mistakes that were made by AAP. In the 2014 LSE, it was clearly apparent that this party had a long way to go…    
01.)  AAP first chose not to form a Government in Delhi and then formed the Government by accepting the support of Congress Party – one of the most corrupt in the eyes of the common public. The number of U-turns lost the faith of the public.
02.) AAP after forming the Government in Delhi, shunned the same within 49 days of coming to the helm on the reason that Jan Lokpal Bill was not allowed to pass. They behaved like a child, who on being refused a slab of chocolate, kicked away the whole bag of other goodies.  
03.) AAP’s confrontational attitude without any results to show for it. Instead of governing, AAP continued it’s dharnas and vigilante style of politics which marginalized the urban voters and shooed them away.   

04.) AAP in their haste to become a national party decided to contest the majority of the 434 seat in 2014 LSE without actually having the wherewithal to do so. I was always told that haste is a waste and the AAP’s haste and false bravado made them stumble.

05.) AAP gave tickets to candidates who were practically unknown faces to the general public and some of them were more of social activists rather than politicians. Social activists are often seen as anti-development by the general public.

06.) AAP candidates concentrated heavily on rural voters and slum dwellers to pull in the votes, so in spite of lots of public rallies, the candidates were virtually unknown in the middle-class/higher-middle-class/urban voters.

07.) AAP candidates were far away from understanding the ground realities. There was a total lack of communication between the candidates, state committees and block committees. In fact, most of the time, the campaign teams of the candidates completely marginalized the supporters/volunteers present on the ground.
08.) AAP continuously targeted big business names/houses without concrete evidence which was seen by many as being anti-business. They came across as a party who kept shouting ‘Wolf’.

09.) AAP kept its anti-Modi tirade and hardly said anything against other political parties. It showed them in a bad light by creating an impression that they are only anti-Modi/BJP. They also failed to realise the seriousness of the challenge the Narendra Modi presented. The MODI tsunami sunk many ships in the 2014 LSE.

10.) AAP’s hate-hate relationship with the media also abetted its downfall. The media today is strong medium and coming out and accusing the complete media to be biased showed them in poor light.

11.) AAP’s refusal to look beyond Mr. Arvind Kejriwal and create strong state leaders proved to be a major disadvantage during 2014 LSE. Even after the defeat, there is a strong resistance to look beyond the national convener and this will definitely hurt in the future.

AAP’s foreseeable future is bleak as leaders like Ms. Shazia Ilmi, Mr. Yogendra Yadav, Ms. Anjali Damania and Ms. Preeti Menon Sharma have resigned from AAP, although it is being reported that they have resigned only from the posts, but are still very much an integral part of AAP, only exception being Ms. Shazia Ilmi. This is exactly what I meant in the point no. 10 above – If no leaders are willing to take up posts in AAP, then who will lead AAP? Can only Mr. Arvind Kejriwal and his small band of merry men do it? I have my doubts…

However bleak the picture, AAP should keep looking for the silver lining and for the party, it has to use the loss in the 2014 LSE, as a mirror to reflect and introspect.  The path forward is difficult and treacherous, but AAP has no choice to start afresh and that is go back to the people of Delhi with folded hands and apologise although Delhites don’t easily forget and forgive. They have been guilty of shunning their Karma-Bhoomi and have paid heavily for the mistakes.

– Kartik Sheth.

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