Arvind Kejriwal has had a lot of explaining to do in this campaign.
As Firstpost's Sandip Roy had reported from the ground in Delhi, even at rallies for the Lok Sabha polls, when he spoke to party faithful, the AAP leader found himself explaining the party's exit from the Delhi government after 49 days. And now in an interview, the AAP leader has finally come out and admitted that his exit may have been ill-timed and damaging to his party's prospects.
Speaking to the Economic Times, Kejriwal admitted that while he still stood by his decision to quit over not being able to pass his 'Jan Lokpal Bill' in the Delhi Assembly, he should have taken more time to explain the rationale behind it to the people of the state.
"The suddenness of our decision and the communication gap with masses allowed BJP and Congress to spread falsehood about us and label us as escapists. This is a mistake we made and we'll be more careful in future," he told the newspaper.
The decision to quit, soon after a disastrous dharna against the Delhi police, and a shocking midnight raid on a private residence in Khirki extension was widely seen as a deal breaker for India's middle class who had shaken off their apathy to come out and vote for AAP.
But Kejriwal said he felt that even among the middle class, he was confident that the party's staunchest supporters would continue to vote for the party.
He said however, that the real 'deal breaker' for the new AAP naysayers was the fact that he actually the audacity to actually take on the BJP's prime ministerial candidate which had led them to turn away from him. But he's fine with that because he believes its a small number.
While every pre-poll survey has predicted that the BJP-led NDA alliance would win over 200 seats, Kejriwal puts the number at a much more modest 180 seats and said the party would wrest Varanasi from Modi and Amethi from Rahul Gandhi.
However, he's not very sure about how his own party will do.
By all estimates, Kejriwal's exit is expected to have significantly dented his party's chances in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, even weakening it in Delhi, which was the one state where the party was actually expected to do well.
This, added to the fact that the AAP leader then ran off to Varanasi to take on Narendra Modi without standing from Delhi, could have further damaged the party there.
As Firstpost editor R Jagannathan said, "It is entirely understandable that the Delhi voter is miffed with Kejriwal. After hoisting him on their shoulders, the man hasn’t spoken a word about what he plans to do for her in case he returns to power after the next assembly elections. After he quit, the assembly has been in suspended animation"
The Lokniti-IBN election tracker poll predicted a clear victory for the BJP in Delhi, even in seats where the AAP may have had a chance, despite the fact that many people were happy with the way the party had governed over 49 days. Others predict that the disgruntled AAP voters could cast their ballot in favour of the BJP since the anti-Congress wave is so strong in the current polls.
Kejriwal and the party may finally be coming around to the fact that they may have jumped the gun when it came to contesting the ongoing Lok Sabha elections. Unfortunately, all they can do now is hope that the damage isn't as bad as everyone else seems to think.
Published Date: Apr 11, 2014 09:01 AM | Updated Date: Apr 11, 2014 10:02 AM