It would be no exaggeration to say that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has been one of the most talked about parties this election, receiving coverage on a par with the two national parties - the Congress and BJP.
Ever since its stunning debut in the Delhi assembly elections, when the fledgling party toppled the mighty Sheila Dikshit government, the big question is whether AAP would be able to replicate its performance on a national level.
The party certainly seems to think so. Taking its role as giant killer very seriously, AAP has been unafraid to take on India's proverbial political lions right in their dens. Its garrulous leader Kumar Vishwas announced his intention of taking Rahul Gandhi in his constituency of Amethi much before he actually filed his nomination, and Arvind Kejriwal has, of course, declared his intention of not just fighting against, but also defeating, Narendra Modi in Varanasi.
Apart from these high profile battles, AAP is also fielding some known NGOs heavyweights or media faces such as Yogendra Yadav from Gurgaon, Medha Patkar from Mumbai Northeast, Meera Sanyal from Mumbai South, V Balakrishnan from Bangalore Central, and Anita Pratap from Ernakulam, Kerala.
So what impact is AAP likely to make? Will it be able to queer the pitch for the two national parties and make the polls - dare we say - more interesting than they already are?
According to the final tally of a Lokniti, CSDS-IBN National Election Tracker survey for March, AAP is likely to get about 3 percent of the total vote in the Lok Sabha elections. This may seem minuscule, but is in fact not a bad showing, given that large regional parties like the Left, BSP and SP are projected to win 4 percent of the total voteshare.
What is important, of course, is where the votes are coming from, and whether they are coming in enough bulk from key states. If the voteshare is spread out among several key constituencies, the potential for AAP to make an impact would be severely reduced. Here's a quick look at how they are expected to perform:
In Delhi, the AAP voteshare has been projected at 29 percent, making them the second largest party in the state and giving them 2-3 Lok Sabha seats. Contrast this with the BJP which, with a 40 percent projected voteshare, is likely to win 3-4 seats. The Congress comes in third with 22 percent of the vote and a likely 0-1 seats. This performance sees crucial seat share being taken away from both national parties.
In Maharashtra, the party is expected to win 5 percent of the total voteshare, putting them in third place behind the BJP (43 percent) and Congress (33 percent). Although this may not be enough to win AAP seats (maybe one or two at best), five percent is still significant enough to play spoiler for the bigger parties, particularly in the urban areas of Mumbai city. This is also the case in Gujarat, where the party is expected to win 5 percent of the total voteshare.
They are expected to win 7 percent of the vote in Haryana and 14 percent in Punjab.
So what we can expect is that while AAP may not actually win enough votes to have a significant say in parliament, it may have done enough to needle the bigger national parties and make their lives just a little more difficult. Because in addition to having to contend with regional parties, they also have to deal with a fairly significant percentage of votes going to AAP.
And though AAP may think that they have the potential to do better, they have more or less achieved what they set out to do, which is build a fairly stable foundation for a political alternative. How they move forward from this point will be interesting to see. That will depend on whether or not they will be able to form a majority government in Delhi after the next elections, and also how they build the organisation into a coherent political force.
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Updated Date: Apr 04, 2014 21:07:43 IST