MCD Elections: AAP has lessons to learn following humiliating defeat

Last Updated: Fri, Apr 28, 2017 10:26 hrs
MCD Elections: AAP has lessons to learn following humiliating defeat

In a major setback to the Aam Admi Party, the BJP swept the municipal corporation polls in Delhi. The results showed that AAP had lost almost half of its vote share while the BJP increased theirs by almost 4% to 37% as compared to the 2015 assembly polls.

In fact CNN-News 18 reported that the part faced losses in wards of constituencies held by senior leaders ad MLAs Satyendra Jain and Somnath Bharti and others like Alka Lamba, Gopal Rai and Kapil Mishra. Given this rude shock, some in the party have, instead of accepting defeat, continued to blame tampering of electronic voting machines (EVMs). According to The Wire, AAP –

continued to remain in denial and insisted that it was not a victory for Prime Minister Narendra Modi but for the electronic voting machines (EVMs). “This is an EVM wave, not a Modi wave,” said Delhi minister Gopal Rai. The party has been insisting since the Punjab assembly election results in March that the EVMs can be manipulated and that they are the major cause for BJP’s victory in the recent elections.

According to some, making Manoj Tiwari the President of the BJP state unit worked in their favour, given the changing demographic of the city. Tiwari, an actor and Bhojpuri singer, made started his political career in Samajwadi Party and moved to the BJP after 2011. Shivani Singh of the Hindustan Times opines that he infused some new energy into the party as some of the old school RSS leaders were becoming unappealing.

The Jats, Yadavs and Gujjars — the original residents of the rural pockets — are now outnumbered by Poorvanchali migrants from UP and Bihar in many of the villages of Delhi. In the unauthorised colonies, where a third of Delhi’s population lives, Poorvanchalis are the dominant group. The induction of Tiwari, a Bhojpuri celebrity who had already won for BJP the Northeast Delhi Lok Sabha seat, a Poorvanchali hub, in 2014, to wean these voters away from the AAP and the Congress seemed to have paid off well.

BJP ended up winning most of the wards in this region as they used their resounding victory in Uttar Pradesh to their advantage. Tiwari of course gave full credit to the Prime Minister.

Pre-2014 BJP was different from the one we have now. We have raised the bar,” Tiwari told Hindustan Times in a pre-poll interview. Admitting that governance standards in local bodies were wanting before Modi took over as the PM, he claimed that having “Modi as BJP’s policy” would change that.

While the BJP rides the UP wave to success, there is also a feeling that AAP’s conduct off late gave its rival a push. Arvind Kejriwal must be willing to be a student and use this opportunity to learn, writes Bikran Vohra in The First Post -

stop with the chest thumping self-sell, and stop with the constant barrage of complaints against the incumbent in Raj Niwas. And above all, learn to hold the hot little buck and accept responsibility. Any political analyst will accept that AAP has done better than expected and risen higher than the groundswell of public opinion had indicated. It was projected that he would almost be laughed off this stage. But he has had a speaking part. While nowhere near the BJP juggernaut's sweep of the MCD polls, AAP has shown that even in its mangled state, it is more viable than Congress, 

There is a consensus among most political observers that the constant blame game with the Centre has not worked in their favour. Amitabh Tiwari in The Quint writes

The vote is clearly against the theatrics and agitation politics of the AAP. AAP government has done fairly well – mohalla clinics, free water supply, reduction in electricity rates, construction of 8,000 new classrooms in schools and many more. However, all this good work is dwarfed by its constant tu-tu main-main with the central government.

Within the party too, there are signs of discontent. Bhagwant Mann criticised the leadership for their immaturity. He was quoted as saying that they were behaving like a mohalla cricket team. This video of an angry supporter also surfaced online.

Several AAP leaders are also resigning from their posts in wake of the defeat.

In this piece, India Today listed the rifts within the party as one of the reasons for their defeat. With several MLAs expressing their displeasure and some even jumping ship, there was a negative perception among voters.

As soon as its MLA from Bawana Ved Prakash quit the party to join BJP, every day the speculation of more following the suit hurt the party's credibility.Another MLA Rajesh Rishi cautioned party chief against 'sycophants' and used twitter as his platform. The biggest blow was a video by senior leader Kumar Vishwas who not only kept away from the Party's campaign for crucial MCD polls but also released a video slamming his own party on the issue of corruption

Facing a barrage of criticism for continuing to blame EVMs for their loss, report suggest that a meeting was held at the Chief Minister’s residence where the election was discussed. India Today reported that almost half of the MLAs present said that they did not believe that EVMs were the issue.

Following the party meet, Aam Aadmi Party MLA Jagdeep Singh said, "If we find anything concrete on EVMs, we will talk about it". Similarly, Avtar Singh, who is the AAP legislator from Kalkaji, did not comment on EVMs. On Wednesday, Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal refrained from speaking on electronic voting machines (EVMs) after the MCD election result.

Only time will tell if AAP learns its lessons and re-invents itself while at the same time managing to govern the state with BJP heading local bodies. It will surely be an uphill task.

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