In the recent New Delhi Assembly by-poll in Rajouri Garden, the AAP candidate not only lost, but also lost his deposit. One struggles to think such a fate befalling the ruling party of any state.
The writing has been on the wall for quite some time now. The AAP is a party in terminal decline and may not last past the year 2020, when its Delhi Assembly term ends. Here are some of the reasons why…
1) Kejriwal’s personal reputation is in tatters
Arvind Kejriwal’s personal charisma saw the spectacular success of the 2011 August Kranti agitation, the launch of the AAP and his storming to power in Delhi. But after that he is in decline and has been in the news for all the wrong reasons.
He has been reduced to a joke in social media and gives Rahul “Pappu” Gandhi a run for his money in being the laughing stock. Not a good sign for any politician if you set out to be Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rival but end up being Pappu’s replacement.
He had his ups and downs from 2011-15, but since then it's only down. Kejriwal is always in the news for all the wrong reasons, shooting off his mouth without thinking and always on the defensive regarding his party’s misdeeds.
AAP is a one-man party and when that one man sinks, he will inevitably take the party down with him.
2) Bad governance and no achievements till date
From 2011-15, Kejriwal ran on the basis of promises and kept saying he wanted just one chance to prove himself. Well, no politician can get a better chance than being given 67/70 seats in any Assembly. Kejriwal has totally squandered that.
In the last two years he doesn’t have any achievements to boast of and there is nothing that suggests that Delhi citizens are leading a better quality of life. Whether it is roads, power, water or any kind of reforms, Kejriwal has done nothing of note.
Forget giving a better kind of politics, AAP politicians have acquired a reputation of being the very worst in Delhi.
In the past, many parties kept getting re-elected on the basis of caste and religion. But Kejriwal promised good governance and good politics. He has fallen woefully short on both counts. He currently has absolutely nothing to woo voters.
3) Funds drying up for the AAP
Every political party runs on funds. Years back, there was great enthusiasm for the AAP and Kejriwal got a lot of funding from NRIs and the middle class of India. But that is in the past and funds are now down to a trickle.
AAP funding is in the news for all the wrong reasons too. Former founding member Yogendra Yadav said the AAP was no longer transparent in its donor list. Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh claimed they were being funded by Khalistanis.
Former Punjab deputy CM openly accused AAP of getting funds from “terrorist organisations having roots in foreign lands”. Then there comes news like the Delhi Lieutenant-Governor asking the party to return a good Rs 97 crore on ad money spent on promoting the party outside the state.
It is uncertain how long the party can last on the basis of such uncertain funding.
|AAP got thrashed by the Congress in Punjab. Photo: India Today|
4) Court cases finally catching up
In 2011 Kejriwal and his supporters lamented the fact that there were so many chargesheeted politicians in Parliament. Well now there are dozens and dozens of cases against Kejriwal, his MLAs and AAP leaders.
The Indian judiciary system is slow, but it eventually does catch up. There was the 2013 dharna case, the attack on BJP headquarters and many arrests and bails of his MLAs. Very soon, the AAP will spend all their time in the courts.
The Arun Jaitley criminal defamation case is catching up against Kejriwal and an Assam court had also issued a bailable arrest warrant against him. The Shunglu report has brought to light many irregularities committed by the Kejriwal government. You can be sure that many more cases will pile up.
Kejriwal needs just one conviction in any personal case against him for his MLA ticket to be cancelled (and hence the loss of his CM’s post) and he won’t even be able to contest elections for six years!
5) Wipe-out in Goa and missed opportunity in Punjab
There is no way a small party like AAP can compete in large states like Uttar Pradesh, Bihar or say Tamil Nadu. That way their only chance was cities and small states. The AAP did OK initially, getting four Lok Sabha seats in Punjab in 2014 and capturing Delhi in 2015.
But 2017 was a missed opportunity for them. There was a severe anti-incumbency wave against SAD in Punjab and the AAP failed to capitalise on that. They got thrashed by the Congress. They were wiped out in Goa. Their long-term strategy has been severely dented.
With disillusionment high in New Delhi, you could say the AAP currently enjoys no goodwill in any city or small state in India to build on for the future.
6) Possible disqualification of 21 MLAs
There is an office of profit case against 21 AAP MLAs and all reports suggest they have a very weak case. So there’s a good chance the Election Commission may disqualify them and hold fresh elections.
Any ruling party losing one-third of their MLAs in one stroke is unprecedented and though the AAP will not lose power, overnight they will be humiliated and severely weakened.
7) Need something really special to counter Modi
From 2013-17, Modi has won almost every electoral battle he has fought. Exceptions are Bihar and Delhi in 2015. In Bihar, Nitish Kumar was a very popular CM who formed a Mahagatbandhan. From 2011-15, Kejriwal worked on the basis of “promise” and “potential”.
But Kejriwal has thrown down the only card he has. He has nothing to fight Modi in the 2019 general elections. He has nothing to defend the 2020 Delhi elections. That is why Kejriwal has reached a political endgame and the AAP faces extinction.