Arvind Kejriwal has apologised for his biggest blunder and is now seeking the forgiveness of the Delhi voters who gave his party its biggest electoral victory. A victory that Kejriwal frittered away in a moment of hubris. He now hopes that a fresh round of Assembly elections in the capital will allow him to regain the vast political ground he has ceded in the national elections, where his party landed a paltry 4 seats, all of them in Punjab.
But do the Lok Sabha election numbers hold out hope for AAP? Not really.
In Delhi, even though AAP's candidate were all second to BJP's winning candidates, the margin of defeat was never less than a lakh in all cases. Rakhi Birla, who was former minister in the AAP Delhi government, got the highest number of votes among AAP candidates in Delhi with 5,23,058 of votes polled but still lost by a margin of close to a lakh to BJP's Udit Raj.
In Chandni Chowk, Ashutosh got 301618 and lost to BJP's Dr Harshvardhan by a margin of close to 1.3 lakhs. In East delhi, Rajmohan Gandhi lost by a margin of 1.9 lakhs to BJP's Maheish Girri. In New Delhi, AAP had fielded former Tehelka journalist Ashish Khetan who got 2,90,642 votes and lost to BJP's Meenakshi Lekhi by a margin of 1.6 lakhs.
It should be noted that AAP has managed to increase its vote share from 29 percent in 2013 Assembly elections to 33 percent in LS election. But this wasn't enough to give the party even a single seat in the state.
Everyone agrees that the dismal seat count was the consequence of AAP's dramatic and self-defeating resignation – which in turn was spurred by the desire to go national at a time when it has barely managed to get together a government in Delhi.
Let's not forget that in Delhi, AAP only had 28 seats and only able to form the government with Congress support. As Rakesh Agarwal, secretary, Nyaya Bhoomi, an NGO, who had been associated with Kejriwal since 2000, told Debobrat Ghose in this Firstpost piece, "AAP could have proved to be good opposition, but Kejriwal lost focus after winning seats in the Delhi Assembly elections. The basic tenets on which the party was formed and got overwhelming support from people gradually faded away."
While AAP might not have done well, it helped boost the anti-UPA wave in India and thus conversely strengthened the BJP, as Pratap Bhanu Mehta says to the Mint: "the AAP has a lot of hand in the BJP’s victory because it was a part of that movement that illegitimised the Congress. All the people AAP went after have lost badly. Its impact is far greater than the number of seats it won."
He goes on to add that AAP's success will depend on the ability to learn from its mistakes and says, "They can re-group in Punjab and Delhi certainly. On economic issues, AAP’s message has become quite blurred. There will certainly be a demand for a more vocal opposition. The AAP should try and fill that space."
But voters don’t vote to pick the opposition, they choose who they want to rule. And that may well be Kerjiwal’s undoing later this year, when he goes back to the residents of Delhi asking for their vote.
Firstpost is now on WhatsApp. For the latest analysis, commentary and news updates, sign up for our WhatsApp services. Just go to Firstpost.com/Whatsapp and hit the Subscribe button.
Updated Date: May 21, 2014 12:44:06 IST