Though the AAP sympathisers are hoping that AAP in its national avatar may give Narendra Modi a run for his money, There is every indication that the euphoria being anticipated by them is stillborn. AAP’s sell-by date is gone. Here’s Why:
1. The antsy, confrontationist and generally no-performance-all-gimmickry non-serious style of functioning of AAP has put off the aspirational voting class. AAP is now left with only the so-called jhadu class which it got out of the underprivileged class. The middle class has moved on and given AAP up as a rabble-rousing phenomenon which came as a storm and passed on after leaving lot of destruction in its wake. This means that it is left with only a portion of the underprivileged class which used to be a Congress voter. So all it can hope to do in the post-Delhi government era is to drag Congress down a little further. Even though Congress may have hoped to buttress AAP in the fond hope that it will impact BJP, but they have only managed to cut off their nose in order to spite the face. The autowallahs are now looking forward to Modi.
2. AAP has reduced itself to a single issue party. Anti-corruption is not an issue in itself. It is a foundational theme which every government is supposed to practice. To make an entire edifice out of this foundation is neither feasible nor practical. At the end of the day, people want to see tangible results. This has neither happened, nor did AAP ever make any serious attempt towards this. All they were doing were to trumpet day in and day out that ‘No govt. has ever done so much in such a short time’. This is a dubious claim at best, not borne out by hard facts.
3. AAP did not redeem the pledges it made to the people. The major reason why people got attracted to AAP was the positives it promised. The reduction in electricity tariff, free water and electricity, freebies to various classes, promise of mohalla sabhas on the lines of what left gave to its cadres in West Bengal, i.e. a promise of cadre ruled Delhi, were the reasons which made people and cadre opt for them. It may be recalled that their vote share was less than that of BJP, and so were their seats. They made a show of not being interested in power, but were trapped into it by the wily Congress. Ultimately, they left without giving anything to anyone besides proclaiming that they had done more than anyone else.
4. The extreme left and Naxal sympathies of AAP were completely exposed before a shell-shocked aspirational class. The dharna by Arvind Kejriwal and his puerile confession of being an anarchist completely put off the upwardly mobile section of AAP supporters. This was one of the main reasons behind Media getting turned off from AAP. AAP was very uncomfortable with all the scrutiny they were being subjected to, used as they were to picking up on others and criticizing, blaming, and branding them. When faced with the same situation themselves, they were completely off-putted. Now they have gone one better. Mamata Banerjee has today clarified that AAP are better described as Maoists, as even Naxals have some values. Their no-brainer storming of BJP office yesterday looks like a desperate attempt to catch eyeballs.
5. The AAP national campaign is a non-starter. Kejriwal’s statements are now all too predictable and are jarring to the ears. When asked how he plans to cover the national scene, he came out with that same blasé statement: “Sirji, yeh chunaav ham thode hi lad rahe hain, ye to janta lad rahi hai”. Such statements do not wash with public any longer because he has strained his credibility a little too much. Everyone knows that you can’t contest nationally in the manner of a Delhi elections. Bluffs do not work with the public a second time, especially when it is a given that AAP can only be a spoiler, not a player.
6. The complete confusion wrought by the 10 heads of AAP speaking in ten different voices did not inspire any confidence among the public, thus limiting their attraction. The chances are that the extreme language employed by people like Prashant Bhushan and Kejriwal, and their ambivalent stand on progressive issues like Khaap Panchayat, race issues, judiciary, etc. and regressive stand on issues like FDI in retail reveal a very simplistic approach to governance. Their crony socialism has turned out to be worse than the crony capitalism they rail against. Harping on clean intent, with a witch hunting attitude has not helped. His owlish activism against Anil and Mukesh Ambani betrayed his arrogant and self-righteous attitude. It is a sad story of a derelict organization running away from responsibility in the hope of getting a halo of martyrdom so as to aim even higher. They probably think that it helps to have zero track record, without realizing that the failed 49 days is an abysmal track record in itself.
7. AAP’s selection of candidates is curious, to say the least. It is a selection policy based more on hope than any analysis. Media, which had been supporting unanimously, is now subjecting them to intense unfavourable scrutiny. The AAP candidates list put out so far has 70 names, out of which 60 would lose their deposits. After yesterday’s gala show, even Ashutosh would have difficulty saving his. AAP candidates are slowly acquiring the halo of being non-serious and spoilers. They are going national only in hope, not on the basis of any plan.
So the denouement is out. I had said in early January itself in a Firstpost article that AAP will not hit double figures nationally. I see no reason to change that assessment. I can only add that AAP should consider itself a success if they can save their deposit in about 10% of the seats they contest. They can only go downhill from here. I give them less than 5% vote and less than 5 seats now.