Some “election stories” are overlooked when the focus is on the major parties as votes are counted and government-formation attracts attention. Yet at times the voters’ verdict on a loser can be almost as significant as the support garnered by the winner. It is in this context that the dismal performance of the Aam Aadmi Party in Gujarat must be perceived ~ all its candidates had to forfeit their security deposits. Coming in the wake of an almost similar no-show in Goa, Arvind Kejriwal’s party has had its “national” ambitions severely bruised. True that it was making its debut in the western state, what it must learn is that needless pre-event bragging only accentuates the damage inflicted by the electorate.
While it had initially said it would be contesting every seat in Mr Narendra Modi’s home state, it could manage to get only 29 persons willing to seek a place in the 182-member legislature under its flag and all of them bit the dust: the writing was on the wall when none of AAP’s leading lights ~ or are they paper tigers? – dared campaign in the land of the last Asiatic lions. In fact it had done a little better in Goa where at least one of its 39 candidates did not add to the government’s coffers. In Gujarat’s its tally was less than what NOTA had notched up.
The lesson that Kejriwal, Sisodia & Co must learn is that politics calls for more than cashing-in on public dismay: that did work for the Delhi Assembly polls but an inability to wrest even one of the three municipal corporations from the BJP confirmed that it had not acquired much support at the grassroots level ~ a single by-election win in Bawana is small comfort. In the same way there is little positive to its bagging the second spot in Punjab, it got that far only because the Akali Dal had crumbled. It is too early to start trying to assess how the AAP will fare in the next Assembly poll ~ that neither the BJP nor the Congress have done much to impress the voter (the BJP at least retained control of the municipalities) could work to its advantage, but a lot of work will have to be done for even its students’ wing has not taken off.
Rather than build up a genuine following, Kejriwal continues to focus on the politics of negativity ~ as is evident from his running battle with successive Lieutenant-Governors. The pending case in the apex court could be a make or break affair ~ should the court decide that in Delhi the chief minister has only limited authority it will prove a real setback. For then even his blame-game might cease to resonate with citizens facing more than a fair share of headaches. The AAP broom is no longer new, ground realities point to its not “sweeping clean”.