Picking AAP the pieces: Is there hope in the party's dismal numbers?

Aam Aadmi Party, the political debutant in this year's Lok Sabha Election, has failed to live up to its hype and hmanaged to get only four seats in Punjab. Delhi, the state where the party's political life began, saw the party lose all seven seats to the BJP and the margin in each seat was well over 1 lakh votes.

If one were to take a look at AAP's numbers in the terms of vote shares in some key seats, it becomes evident that the party has failed to emerge as a national one, even in terms of vote-shares.

AAP got 2 percent of the votes on the national level. The two states where the party did exceptionally well were Delhi, where they got a total of 2,722,887 votes representing a 32.9 percent vote-share, and Punjab where they got 3,373,062 votes representing 24.4 percent of the vote-share. The only difference was that in Punjab the party managed to win four seats, while in Delhi they lost out to the BJP in all seven seats.

As the chart above shows, AAP fared very poorly even in terms of vote-share in other key states such as Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra. In UP, where party chief Arvind Kejriwal contested Varanasi, the party got only 1 percent of the vote-share with only 8,21,301 votes. In Maharashtra, another state where AAP's presence was much hyped, the party ended up with 1.2 percent vote-share.

More worryingly, if one were to do a close analysis of how some of AAP's biggest names fared in UP and Maharashtra, the picture looks even gloomier.

Picking AAP the pieces: Is there hope in the partys dismal numbers?

Arvind Kejriwal after he was slapped by a protestor. AP

In Amethi, Kumar Vishwas got only 25,527 votes and was a distant third to both Rahul and Smriti Irani. In Lucknow, party candidate Javed Jaffrey got 41,429 of the votes and fared a poor fifth. In Ghaziabad, AAP's star campaigner Shazia Ilmi was a distant fifth with 89,147 votes while VK Singh won with close to 7.5 lakh votes.

Perhaps the only person from AAP who managed to put up a fight of any sort in Uttar Pradesh was Arvind Kejriwal who got 2,09,238 votes. He too was a distant second to Narendra Modi's 5,81,022 votes.

In Maharashtra too the party fared very poorly with its most well-known faces such as Medha Patkar, Mayank Gandhi coming in a distant third and fourth respectively in their North East and North-West Mumbai constituencies. In addition to this AAP's Meera Sanyal managed to get only 40,388 votes and came in fourth in the South Mumbai constituency.

The table below shows how some of AAP's most-well known candidates fared in their constituencies and it is only Kerjiwal and the candidates in Delhi, who came a close second. All other candidates were either stuck at position three or four or five, thus clearly showing that for the voters outside of Delhi and Punjab, AAP's candidates were not even one of the two options.

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.

AAP's dismal show also proves that the party's theme of corruption and taking corrupt leaders across political parties failed to strike a chord with the voters -- when it became entirely divorced from the issue of governance. For instance in Nagpur, the party had put up Anjali Damania, the activist who exposed the land scams and corrupt dealing by Nitin Gadkari. She got only 69081 votes and finished a miserable fourth. Gadkari won by a strong margin with close to 5.8 lakh votes polled in his name.

According to analysts, AAP's big mistake was going 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."

In addition to this the lack of local cadre, the decision to quit the Delhi government, and AAP's own lack of a strong message on economic issues proved to be its undoing.

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 in a piece published today. He says, "the AAP has a lot of hand in the BJP’s victory because it was a part of that movement that illegitimized 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."

While the numbers don't look too encouraging for AAP right now, it should take solace in the fact that where Delhi is concerned, it still has a large voter-base. And perhaps the next step for AAP in the Delhi Assembly should be to consolidate this voter-base.

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Updated Date: May 17, 2014 13:57:51 IST

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