A lot of people are writing off the AAP and its leader Arvind Kejriwal from the Delhi scene. While that may be the case, the Indian electorate is quite unpredictable and we cannot really know what the core voters are thinking in their minds and how they will cast their final vote.
Some factors which could go in AAP’s favour in Delhi at least…
1. Kejriwal has captured the mindshare of Delhiites.
Some people may be disgusted with Kejriwal, but he sure has captured the imagination of many of the citizens who are tired of things not changing in Delhi. Freebies like electricity and water subsidies may well still work.
He still appeals to sections like the lower middle class who are tired of police brutality and autowallahs who think Kejriwal is sympathetic towards them. Even many people in Khirki Extension came out in support of vigilante minister Somnath Bharti.
2. The Ambani FIR and Jan Lokpal Bill will click.
Some AAP supporters are chuffed that only Kejriwal had the guts to file an FIR against powerful industrialist Mukesh Ambani whom he has accused of influencing the decisions of both the Congress and BJP.
Even the Jan Lokpal Bill, which has been dismissed as impractical and unconstitutional by critics, should have been given at least chance, it can be argued. Had it been shot down by the courts, then the AAP would have faced a lot of flak.
However since it wasn’t even tabled in the Assembly and Kejriwal resigned over it, he can claim the high ground over the issue.
3. Dr Harsh Vardhan is not charismatic enough.
Whether we like it or not, personalities matter in Indian politics. Jayalalitha, Mayawati, Mamata Banerjee etc are all very high-profile figures and extremely popular in their States. Harsh Vardhan seems like a well-meaning sincere man, but he is not charismatic enough.
Currently the personality of Kejriwal, for better or worse, towers over both Sheila Dixit and Harsh Vardhan and hence he may still fetch more votes.
4. Vote for both Kejriwal and Modi.
If the Assembly elections and Lok Sabha elections take place together, then the thought of “Modi for PM and Kejriwal for CM” may click with the voters. The Congress is down and out in both the State and Centre.
It’s a straight fight between the AAP and BJP and a confused voter may split her/his preferences. We don’t know much about the AAP’s Lok Sabha chances, but they may still have a fighting chance in the Assembly polls.
5. Last image: Both Congress and BJP looked bad.
Had Kejriwal quit after his dharna that brought Delhi to a standstill then that may have been the last image of him. However, people’s last image before the government falls will be that of both the BJP and Congress MLAs creating a ruckus all day and preventing an anti-corruption bill from being tabled.
In fact AAP had been at the receiving end on Twitter for many days with hashtags like #AAPDrama and #AAPCon trending. But on that day at least #AnarchistCongBJP was a top trend.
6. The means justify the ends.
While there are many charges of drama, anarchy, vigilantism, amateurishness etc against the AAP, there are no serious corruption charges against any of the leaders. The AAP has consistently stuck to their anti-corruption stand and the voters may still be thinking that the AAP deserves a longer stint.
Many movements in India have seen agitations, have been anarchist and have broken the law. The people of India have backed such movements in the past and there’s no surety that they will junk the AAP when they did the same.
7. Regional leaders get many chances.
Electorally Kejriwal may or may not emerge as a national leader but he is already a strong regional leader. And regional leaders do not disappear in a hurry as the rest of India will show you.
In UP, Mulayam Singh Yadav of the SP had a bad first term while Mayawati’s was lacklustre. Yet both of them were given majorities by the electorate in two subsequent terms. The electorate of Delhi have similarly given AAP an incomplete term and they may be tempted to give a full one now.
While at times Kejriwal looks like he is working in total madness, there may yet be a method in the madness and that’s something you and me can’t say.
Only the Delhi electorate will have the last say. We have been surprised many times in the past.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.