It’s Now or Never for AAP – Delhi Assembly Election Will Decide
Will the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) prove to be a flash in the pan of India’s political couldron? The party had sprung a surprise in last year’s elections to the Delhi Assembly by winning 28 of the total 70 seats, proving all political pandits wrong in their predictions. With support of the Congress from outside, AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal became the Chief Minister. However, he resigned after 49 days in office after the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party did not allow him to table the anti-corruption Jan Lokpal Bill in the Assembly.
Kejriwal was promptly labeled as “Bhagoda’ (renegade) by the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, a label that stuck throughout the campaign for the Lok Sabha elections and cost him and his party dearly in terms of loss of popularity. Kejriwal admitted his mistake of not taking the voters of Delhi into confidence before deciding to quit as the Chief Minister. But, damage was already done.
Trounced in Lok Sabha polls
Though AAP, which fielded candidates in 434 parliamentary constituencies in the country, garnered over 10 million votes and won four Lok Sabha seats from Punjab, its stalwarts including Kejriwal, Yogendra Yadav and Medha Patkar were defeated. The election results disappointed party volunteers, many of them had quit their jobs or taken leave to campaign for the party candidates.
The party’s dismal performance at the hustings also gave rise to discontent among the top-rung leaders, with even Yogendra Yadav and Shajia Ilmi questioning Kejriwal’s style of functioning and lack of internal democracy. However, Kejriwal managed to pacify the dissenters by holding a two-day meeting of the party’s national executive followed by a consultation with all the AAP candidates who had contested the Lok Sabha elections.
AAP dissolved not only the national executive but also various state committees and announced what it calls ‘Mission Vistar’ to build the organization from ward-level up. The announcement of Mission Vistar, instead of infusing enthusiasm among the party’s rank and file, has triggered division in the cadre in most States.
Not to contest in other elections now
‘Sensing the mood of party workers and considering the fact that AAP was yet to build a strong party organization in the States, Kejriwal announced that the party will not contest any election – assembly, panchayat, municipal – in the country till the elections to the Delhi Assembly are not held. The 70-member Delhi Assembly is in a state of suspended animation since Kejriwal resigned as the Chief Minister.
The BJP, despite its stunning victory in the Lok Sabha elections, appears reluctant to face elections in Delhi. Kejriwal has petitioned the Supreme Court to direct the Central government to hold Delhi Assembly elections. The apex court directed the Centre to resolve the impasse over holding the elections.
Reviving its mohalla sabhas in Delhi
In the meantime, AAP has began mobilizing public opinion in its favour by holding street-corner meetings, which it calls Mohalla sabhas, in all the 70 Assembly constituencies to consult with the voters on the development works that should be taken up with the Rs 4 crore allotted to each of the MLAs towards their constituency development.
Kejriwal has expressed confidence of a landslide victory for AAP whenever the elections are held. “More the elections are delayed the better AAP will do,” he is reported to have said at a rally organized at Jantar Mantar to demand holding of elections at the earliest.
AAP is banking on the decline in the popularity of the BJP government on account of spiralling prices of vegetables, erratic power supply and rise in crime in the Capital. Whenever the Assembly elections are held, one thing is certain that its outcome will decide the fate of this nascent two-year old party one way or the other. AAP will perish politically if it fails to win in Delhi elections but will have major impact on national politics if it is voted back to power with an absolute majority.