Perhaps everyone is looking at the Aam Aadmi Party by juxtaposing it to the giant killer it was when it won 67 of the 70 seats in the Delhi state Assembly. But that would be unkind as no party can ever hope or even dream to live up to those electoral standards.
Having said that, it is a fact that over time Arvind Kejriwal came to be not just its mascot and leader but turned into its very identity. That, as the media portrayed it, was unsavoury and the man did precious little to even blur the edges.
He has been a difficult person to deal with by the other party seniors like Prashant Bhushan or Yogendra Yadav, people who, if they hadn’t had to leave the AAP would have been of immense use to it. It showed that aam aadmis can have differences on principles.
However, when AAP contested the Delhi Assembly polls for the second time and became a monolith within it, every political party without exception tried to smear him and the party. It seemed media worked hand-in-glove with vested interests.
It was hard for anyone who was not used to a maverick party to swallow the details as they appeared. When I tried to shine the light on some of them here on Firstpost, I was trolled as an 'AAPtard' in a binary world of black and white. I had appeared on two television channels asking that a party be shown some fairness.
It did not mean I was a AAP follower or even sympathiser but was only trying to level the field. The two mainline political parties, despite the claims or wails of the Congress, and the well-endowed BJP, did everything to smear AAP, rather successfully. And yet, AAP scored unprecedentedly and spectacularly.
That needn’t have persuaded AAP to believe that it could be a giant killer every time it had candidates on the ballot, like it believed would happen in Punjab and Goa. Now, it was no match to BJP in Delhi civic polls.
It has not been analysed by any political pundit as to why AAP came a cropper with just about six percent vote share in Goa, a state less complex and smaller than the state of Delhi. The Economist had once described how “Delhi’s chief minister is, in effect, the city’s mayor.” Also, that “municipalities have mayors, but they have no real power.”
He chaffed at the limitations or absence of power the chief minister, the state, and its Assembly had when overseen by the Lt. Governor who under statute could be a painful intrusion. He wasn’t alone. Congress’ Sheila Dikshit, his predecessor had complained at the lack of powers, so had BJP’s Sahib Singh Verma.
Kejriwal went about seeking a change more aggressively than the predecessors had been. That and the anti-corruption plank, the support to the Lok Pal movement made him a different leader of a different kind of political party. The other nervy parties had to ensure the demise of his politics.
Narendra Modi’s status as an outlier enabled him to win votes almost everywhere he sought them, but Kejriwal, a man from out of the system fighting the system has been given a coldest shoulder in a part of the area where three years ago had the unbelievably massive electoral support.
How Kejriwal and the AAP reboots itself can be a matter of speculation but it would have to work harder than ever to secure a mandate in the state of Delhi in the next round. The Municipal Corporation of Delhi results show that the leader has to change his ways because perception is more important than the reality.
Updated Date: Apr 27, 2017 15:42 PM