Seven myths about AAP's Lok Sabha chances

Last Updated: Thu, Jan 09, 2014 02:23 hrs

Suddenly most analysts are tipping AAP to be the hottest thing for the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and some even portraying Arvind Kejriwal as a Prime Ministerial candidate. While there are chances that this could definitely be the case for the 2019 polls, it is highly premature for 2014.

A look at the myths with regards to that…

1. AAP is in the league of Congress and BJP.

Make no mistake about it. The Congress has the largest political network in India. Nobody comes even close. They have the maximum number or workers and loyalists spread all across India. When the chips are down they become listless and inert, but with a sniff of a hope they get energized in a big way.

That's why the Congress could make a comeback in 2004 despite being in the wilderness for 8 years and get even bigger in 2009.

Here's a teaser: If Priyanka Vadra is announced as the PM candidate and somehow this enthuses the public and the economy improves and Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi is hit by a scam, then this network will go on an overdrive and maybe even ensure a UPA3.

(That's doubtful, but it still is in the realms of possibility!)

In second place is the RSS network. RSS workers all across the country have dedicated their lives to serve their cause and the BJP piggy backs on this. They have ensured the success in states like Gujarat and Madhya Pradesh and even Karnataka in the south where a BJP government never seemed possible in the past.

The RSS-BJP network is the second largest political one in India. Both the top two networks have been as a result of millions and millions of man hours spread across decades and decades of hard work.

The AAP network is gaining traction for sure, but could emerge as India's third largest network only in 2019. To place them in the league of the Big 2 in 2014 is laughable.

The truth is that the AAP is in competition with the BJD, Trinamool, SP, BSP, DMK, ADMK… and it is conceivable that many of these parties will get more LS seats than the AAP.

2. AAP and BJP share the same voter base.

The Indian middle class voted NDA1 to power and it powered the anti-corruption and anti-rape agitations. When Kejriwal was on the verge of launching the AAP, then there were a good number of people who loved both the BJP and AAP.

But things ended there.

The AAP adopted a Communist Manifesto and campaigned in the jhuggi jhopdis of Delhi. An example is how Kejriwal seems more sympathetic to auto drivers rather than auto commuters. 

The middle class is a pampered lot and have no need for freebies and are getting alienated from the AAP.

Then there's Kejriwal meeting a cleric who issued a fatwa against Taslima Nasreen and Prashant Bhushan saying it's OK for Kashmir to separate from India: All that happens to be the exact opposite of the BJP ideology!

The AAP will eat heavily into the vote share of the Congress and the CPM with whom they have great ideological similarities.

3. An Assembly success can be replicated in the Lok Sabha.

Parties successful in one Assembly find it very tough to branch out nationally. Just because the AAP has been successful in the Delhi Assembly (people keep missing the main point that it came second and not first in the Assembly) doesn't mean it will translate into Lok Sabha success.

The Maharashtra Gomantak Party, the Asom Gana Parishad and the Telugu Desam Party all have had greater Assembly debuts. But the party to consider is the BSP. The BSP saw spectacular success in UP but failed to go national despite both Kanshi Ram and Mayawati trying their best in other states and there being a readymade Dalit vote bank all across India.

Delhi has the smallest of Assembly segments where an intense campaign can work. In comparison, Lok Sabha constituencies are huge and the AAP will have to fight it out for every single one.

4. You can win a national campaign within 6 months.

The Congress was formed in 1885 and came to power in 1947. The RSS was formed in 1925 and the Bharatiya Sangh was formed in 1951 and they came to power in 1977. The BJP was formed in 1980 and came to power in 1996.

The Janata Party and Janata Dal came to power immediately but they consisted of parties and politicians who had been around for decades.

Even being a credible Opposition is not easy. The CPI was formed in 1925. C Rajagopalachari was our first Governor General in 1948 but his Swatantra Party formed in 1959 took 8 years to become the principal Opposition in 1967.

No party can conquer a large, rich diverse country as India in a matter of months. And Kejriwal is no Mahatma Gandhi or Jawaharlal Nehru.

5. Excess media exposure will help Kejriwal.

Excess media exposure on Modi boosted his chances for the PM's post. Using this logic, the mainstream media is giving excess exposure to Kejriwal and saying it will do the same thing for him. That's a dubious thought process and by that logic head honcho Tarun Tejpal would have won any election hands down a week after the scandal broke down.

Modi has been CM for more than a decade now, Gujarat has a string of achievements, the Godhra witch hunt backfired and he has given dozens of speeches with lakhs of participants: All that has resulted in this widespread media coverage.

Kejriwal in contrast is sitting in much more modest foundations. Also, if you notice, then the AAP has already started getting a lot of bad press of late and it may all ultimately backfire.

6. High profile people make a difference.

A list of industrialists and celebrities are joining the AAP, but the truth is that they may not be even to win their respective LS seats let alone expand the AAP voter base. Celebrities are fine if you want to launch an international NGO but may be a disaster politically.

7. Congress support will help AAP.

Who is using who? Is the Congress using the AAP or is it vice versa? That only time will tell, but the Congress has a better track record of destroying parties. It split the Janata Party by supporting Charan Singh. It brought down the Janata Dal government by supporting Chandra Shekhar.

In 1998 the Janata Dal was totally destroyed at the national level. The AAP should note that the touch of the Congress is not the Midas touch, but the touch of death.

Parting shot…

There is a theory floating around that the AAP is a B-team of the Congress and it will play spoiler to Modi's chances in 2014. That is missing the point. It's possible that the AAP may not even reach double digits.

Even if it does get say 20 seats, then what if it snatches 10 seats from the Congress and only 5 from the BJP? The AAP may or may not be a spoiler and it may or may not spoil the chances of the UPA, NDA or Third Front.

There are too many ifs and buts and it is only the electorate which will decide whether or not they want Modi as the PM, AAP or no AAP.