Scale of AAP's defeat in Delhi shows that the party needs to recalibrate its understanding of the National Capital

The Aam Aadmi Party lost in Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal's New Delhi Assembly constituency to the Bharatiya Janata Party, as the results of the Lok Sabha polls showed. It not only lost the VIP constituency, but came third in the race for votes.

As per data shared by the Chief Electoral Officer, Delhi, the BJP candidate Meenakshi Lekhi received 54,004 votes, Congress candidate Ajay Maken bagged 26,312 votes, with AAP's candidate Brijesh Goyal in a distant third place with only 14,740 votes. The New Delhi constituency is merely an example of the AAP's major defeat in Delhi in the recently-concluded Lok Sabha polls.

In fact, as per the data of the election results, the BJP won in 65 Assembly segments out of 70 spread across all seven Lok Sabha constituencies in Delhi. The Congress won in the five remaining Assembly segments. As per vote share data, AAP came in third with 18.1 percent of the votes, with the BJP and Congress first (56.6 percent) and second (22.5 percent) respectively.

 Scale of AAPs defeat in Delhi shows that the party needs to recalibrate its understanding of the National Capital

File image of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. Reuters

The Lok Sabha election results have sent shockwaves through the AAP ahead of the Assembly polls slated for early next year, not only because they are in stark contrast to the results of the 2015 Assembly polls, but also because they challenge the party's very understanding of the National Capital's electoral politics.

In the 2015 Assembly polls, AAP claimed a massive 67 of 70 seats in Delhi with a vote share of 54.3 percent. In this year's Lok Sabha polls, a drop in vote share to only 18.1 percent of the votes comes as an extremely unpleasant surprise for the party. Here are a few ground realities that have been unearthed by these results:

First, AAP has considered the Kejriwal factor as its winning edge over its rivals in Delhi, at least. As per the belief system in the AAP, when it comes to electing a chief minister, Delhiites will only choose Kejriwal. But the Lok Sabha election results suggest that this hypothesis might be fallible. Questions have surfaced within the party about whether this belief holds, given the party's abysmal performance in Kejriwal's own constituency?

Second, there was a belief that the people in the slums would vote for the AAP as the slums have formed its core support base in the past four-and-a-half years in power. The party has extensively focused on extending development and welfare to the slums. But result show that even in slums like Sangam Vihar, where the AAP once had a prominent presence, the party is losing relevance. In 2015, the Sangam Vihar Assembly constituency elected AAP candidate Dinesh Mohaniya with 65.96 percent of the votes, but the party lost out to the BJP in this Assembly segment in the Lok Sabha polls. The saffron party's surge in the slums is nothing less than a emergency for the AAP.

Third, the AAP saw the Muslims as its committed voters, but the results show this is not the case, as the Congress won in five Muslim-dominated Assembly segments namely Okhla, Ballimaran, Matia Mahal, Seelampur and Chandni Chowk. The AAP won none.

Fourth, the belief that a Congress-AAP tie-up would have handed the BJP defeat has also been proven wrong by the vote share distribution. The results showed that even if the Congress and AAP's respective vote shares were taken together, they would fall short by nearly 14 percentage points in matching the saffron party's vote share.

The pattern and the scale of defeat of the AAP shows that it has to recalibrate its understanding of Delhi politics, devise an electoral strategy accordingly for the upcoming Assembly polls and regroup according to the new plan to emerge as a formidable contender. But whether or not there is sufficient time until the Assembly polls in Delhi for the party to pull off this exercise is a question only time will answer.

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Updated Date: May 27, 2019 14:47:21 IST