AAP leader Ashutosh’s recent article on NDTV’s web portal appeared as a lengthy defense for his party’s defeat in the by-poll for Delhi’s Rajouri Garden assembly seat. As this defeat occurred close on the heels of a series of drubbings the AAP suffered in the recent assembly elections in five states in the country, he expressed in his writing that he didn’t like media writing off his party’s electoral capability.
In fact, some news outlets went to the extent of writing an obituary for the AAP, as they don’t see Arvind Kejriwal-led rookie party having any chance in Delhi’s forthcoming municipal elections too. In response to such comments, Ashutosh said, “Yes, AAP lost Delhi by-election in Rajouri Garden with a big margin. The result has been pronounced as a verdict on the performance of the AAP government of Delhi and AAP’s rout is predicted in next week’s municipal corporation election.”
But he added that his party has “become immune to such innuendoes” from a section of the media — a typical AAP-way to brush reality under the carpet.
In contrast, though, the Congress felt relaxed; it won three of the total 10 assembly seats that went for by-elections in seven states. The party retained its Nanjangud and Gundlupet assembly seats of Karnataka. In Madhya Pradesh, it didn’t allow the resurgent BJP to win the Ater assembly seat. Remarkably, Madhya Pradesh is ruled by the BJP and its sway loomed large across the length and breadth of the state.
In that situation, if the Congress triumphs over the BJP, even though with less victory margin, it will send across a strong message that Modi and the saffron party’s plan to make India a “Congress-free” country is very difficult. But then it can’t be ruled out that the BJP is currently enjoying its big moment in the country following its spectacular performance in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand assembly elections.
In the by-polls too, the saffron party has won five assembly seats and on the remaining five seats, the party remained on the number two position. But it is in West Bengal, the saffron party had a satisfying performance despite loss. Mamata Banerjee-headed Trinamool Congress won the Kanthi Dakshin Assembly constituency, yet it was the BJP which gave the former a tough contest, while both the Left and the Congress lost their deposits.
That means, by the time next assembly elections are held in West Bengal, it will be the BJP which will emerge as the main challenger to the Trinamool Congress rather than the Congress or the Left.
What do the By-Poll Results Indicate?
The message of by-poll results to 10 assembly seats spread in Delhi, Jharkhand, Karnataka, Rajasthan, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and Assam is not good for opposition parties. Even as these results can’t be termed as a verdict on their performance, they should know that if the BJP continues to claw on their respective stronghold, they would lose their political stakes.
For instance, the Congress’ victory in three assembly seats in by-elections may have brought a sense of relief to the top leadership, yet it should remember that it would have to work hard to regain the trust of the people. In the absence of a roadmap for the party’s revival, it is increasingly hurtling towards political margins of the country.
But more shocking is the way the political stock of the AAP is declining. Indulging in negative politics is not the sole reason for its becoming a non-performing party; but huge gap between perception and reality is also a cause for its loss. In Delhi, it had emerged as a party which would rid the system of its corruption; it had also emerged as a party which would not allow any difference between its words and works.
However, within two years of its forming its government in Delhi, the AAP has lost faith of the same electorates which gave it more than two-third seats in assembly polls in February 2015.
At the same time, the by-poll result has sent a strong message to the Trinamool Congress leadership too. The party’s candidate has though won Kanthi Dakshin assembly seat by securing 95,369 votes in comparison to the BJP’s 52,843 votes, yet it should consider the fact that the saffron party had polled merely 15,000 votes on the same seat during the assembly election that was held last year.
Therefore, if the saffron party has managed to push the Congress and the Left far behind in the span of 365 days, it is matter of concern for the Trinamool Congress, the Left and the Congress. That means, the BJP which bagged merely seven seats in the West Bengal assembly election last year, may emerge as a big challenger for the ruling party in the next assembly polls in 2021.
In a democratic system, a win or loss for a party keeps on happening. But they should ensure that they don’t lose people’s trust. The AAP, the Congress and the Left are not able to keep the BJP at arms-length because they have failed to bridge the gap between their leadership and the common people. The by-poll results for the 10 assembly seats convey this message to them in clear terms.