Uttar Pradesh was no Delhi 2103 — AAP and its leader, Arvind Kejriwal, learnt this bitter lesson Friday when the party got only about one per cent vote share here.
Shockingly for them, Kejriwal was the only party candidate who managed a second place. Kumar Vishwas, who grabbed headlines for a campaign high on drama in Amethi for nearly four months, was pushed to the fourth position, behind incumbent Rahul Gandhi, Smriti Irani of BJP, and what would hurt Kumar most — BSP’s Dharmendra Pratap Singh.
In about 21 seats in UP, AAP stood at fifth spot. At others, it fared even worse.
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It is said AAP had realised after some time into campaigning that it cannot make a dent in UP. So, it chose to focus its campaigning on only two two seats — Varanasi and Amethi — in an apparent hope to score an ideological and a symbolical win over BJP and Congress.
But Varanasi was different. Sheila Dikshit, the three-term Delhi CM, was facing strong anti-incumbency and corruption and harassment of women were raging issues. Also, Kejriwal and his close associates had been doing groundwork in Delhi since 2006.
In Amethi, there are at least three ways of looking at Vishwas’ campaign. First, it may have been a “genuine attempt to awaken the Amethi residents held captive by the Gandhi family”; second, Kumar stands to personally benefit from his camping in Amethi irrespective of his defeat; and third, it could be a case of both: passion intertwined with work, where at least one stands to benefit.
Beginning with his first-ever rally in Amethi on January 12, he had repeated he is not in Amethi for a win or loss and, once even said that “what I get for my shows will be doubled after I’m done with here.”
Though Kejriwal camped in Amethi for five days at the height of campaigning, Vishwas was still reportedly unhappy at the lack of support from the party.
The party was in for a rude shock from other seats, too. In Ghaziabad, party candidate Shazia Ilmi was relegated to fifth position, behind BJP, Congress, BSP and SP. Ditto in Lucknow for Jaaved Jaaferi. Lal Bahadur Shastri’s kin Adarsh Shastri, too, had to forfeit his deposit.
Also, AAP’s idea of sending “qualified” people from different background to contest fell flat. Shefali Misra, a former international civil servant at the UN, was at the 12th position in Sitapur. Former vice-chancellor of Gorakhpur University Prof Radhey Mohan Mishra was relegated to fifth position. In some places, little known outfits fared better than AAP such as in Ambedkar Nagar, where Moulik Adhikar Party, Bahujan Mukti Party, etc. pushed AAP’s candidate Brijesh Kumar to 12th position.
The obvious reasons for its loss were absence of any prior groundwork, stretched resources, ‘Modi wave’, and a campaign that was more visible online than on ground.
Had AAP leaders chosen safer seats, they may have won but diluted their core idea; and by choosing tough seats, as they did now, they may have portrayed themselves as staying true to their word but failed to gain ground.