On Friday morning, as news of the election results started trickling in, no flags waved at 41, Hanuman Road. There was no beating of drums, waving of brooms or dancing at the AAP headquarters. While many party volunteers had flocked to the office in the morning, the crowd thinned as TV channels showed AAP losing all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi.
Emboldened by the mandate in the Delhi Assembly elections, when it had secured 28 seats, the AAP had expected to fare well in the capital once again. “My colleagues thought that the miracle in Delhi could be replicated in the country, but this process takes a lot of time,” AAP’s Gurgaon candidate Yogendra Yadav said.
Expressing disappointment at the performance, senior leader Manish Sisodia said, “We are a little disappointed with the outcome in Delhi, Varanasi and Amethi.” But he was quick to add that the party had reasons to feel encouraged. “AAP’s vote share in the capital has risen by 4-5 per cent. In Punjab, our performance has been quite good,” he said.
Ashutosh, who contested from Chandni Chowk, said, “The resignation of the Delhi government did leave many disappointed. During the Assembly polls, a certain percentage of people who had voted for us said they would vote for the BJP in Lok Sabha polls. This percentage may have increased in the last few months.”
The four wins in Punjab was “the best news of the day”, leaders said. The party also had 25 per cent of the vote share in that state.
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Asked if fielding too many candidates was a reason for the party’s dismal performance, Yadav said, “If we had fought elections in a few places, constituencies such as Faridkot would not have been one of them.”
Stating that the BJP had launched a campaign blitz, senior leader Prashant Bhushan said, “We probably had 0.1 per cent of the money the BJP had… Even those who wanted to support us might have thought that their vote would go waste.”
As leaders expressed optimism for the future, conversations at the party office said otherwise. “Considering the nature of the Modi wave, even Arvind Kejriwal would not have won if he had fought these polls from Delhi,” a party volunteer said.