Six hurdles to AAP's Mission 2014

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 15, 2014 01:50 hrs

1. The fourth, fifth or sixth party?

In New Delhi, the Congress was the ruling party and the BJP was the Opposition. Along came the challenger AAP and grabbed seats from both parties. It is safe to say that the AAP prevented BJP from getting a majority in the Delhi Assembly.

But in a highly flawed argument, this premise has been taken to the national level. Congress is the ruling party. BJP is the Opposition and hence the AAP will emerge as the third national party and do the same.

This is spurious on many counts. This has totally overlooked the role of major regional players. Like say in Maharashtra, the Congress and NCP are the rulers and the BJP and Shiv Sena are the Opposition. The MNS is the fifth party and the challenger. What will happen when AAP enters Maharashtra? It will become the sixth party.

In Karnataka it is the fourth party behind even the JD(S) and in UP it will be the fifth. The truth is that the AAP is in direct competition with DMK, ADMK, Trinamool, RJD etc. In Delhi it may have been the challenger but in many states it will be nothing but a challenger to the existing challengers!

While the AAP may be the third party in Delhi, if you take the averages of all States, then it may be effectively the fifth party nationally!

2. Peaking too soon:

Some surmised that Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi was peaking too soon. That’s highly unlikely for someone who has been in the news for 12 years non-stop. He’s suddenly not going to drop off the radar in the next three months.

Modi’s support has been building up quietly for about a decade and really picked up in the last 3 odd years when Congress scams started mushrooming.
That’s not the case with the AAP. There was the shock debut in December and the absolutely over the top coverage in January. There is no way that the mainstream media will be able to sustain this momentum for 3 more months.

The goof-ups have started coming out of the AAP camp consistently. Prashant Bhushan, Kumar Vishwas, SomnathBharti… are all getting bad press and the AAP is struggling like any other party.

So far the AAP has shown very little major fresh and out of the box ideas. They have treaded the mundane populist and socialist and this rate it will be treated just like any other party by the time of the Lok Sabha polls.

3. Diluted national support:

In the 2009 general elections, the DMK got 18 seats for its 7.6 million votes. The CPM on the other hand got a lesser 16 seats for almost three times 22.2 million votes. The reason is that regional players have concentrated vote banks within a state.

Sure the AAP probably has millions of supporters all over India, but Lok Sabha segments are much bigger than Delhi Assembly segments and a support base diluted all over India may not translate into as many seats as people are predicting AAP will get.

4. Contradictory vote banks:

The Congress vote banks consist of old-timers and loyalists. The RSS has cultivated the BJP vote bank over the decades and the middle class joined in the 1990s. Regional parties have very carefully cultivated niche vote banks.

But what is the AAP vote bank? You have industrialists rubbing shoulders with Naxal sympathisers. You have the Left and Right in one mix. You have free economy and closed economy contradictions under one roof.

The Mallika Sarabhai-Kumar Vishwas spat was one such example.

The resulting khichdi may well end up alienating more vote banks that the ones they attract.

5. The time factor:

While the AAP is a great idea for 2019, it is one undercooked dish for 2014. The AAP is trying to juggle too many things at once. Governance in Delhi.National ambitions.Trying to formulate a national policy in quick time.

It is behaving in a haphazard and dispersed manner and hence they may not yield the desired resultsas the efforts are definitely not optimized.

6. Direct fight with Modi:

A big point missed is that the BJP got its act together quite late and still emerged as the single largest party in Delhi. Dr Harsh Vardhan (31 seats) beat Arvind Kejriwal (28 seats).

It was only the Congress support (something Kejriwal said he would never ever take) that took AAP past BJP.

Kejriwal is not big enough to take on Modi directly no matter what the mainstream media tells you.

Despite all the tremendous hype, Kejriwal is not even getting half of Modi’s votes in opinion polls for the PM’s post. The gap between Modi and Kejriwal will only increase in the next few months.

Some enthusiastic AAP supporters are Tweeting that their party will get 100 LS seats.

Conservative experts are putting it in the range of 30-50.

But the AAP struggling to even touch double digits is not in the realms of impossibility. That may well happen if things continue to go badly for them.

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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogs here.