Blame-game in AAP, Kejriwal under attack

The eye-ball grabbing tactic of fielding Kejriwal against Modi in Varanasi got the party headlines and Muslim support, but cost it a sure seat.

Written by Abantika Ghosh | New Delhi | Published:May 17, 2014 2:52 am

From four months ago — when it had surprised poll pundits and perhaps itself to win 28 Delhi Assembly seats — to its failure to win even a single Lok Sabha seat in the national capital, Aam Aadmi Party’s dramatic slide of fortunes may be some sort of a record for any party. And no sooner had the first results started trickling in, there seemed more trouble for AAP internally with Ilyas Azmi, its political affairs committee member, blaming Arvind Kejriwal’s “autocratic style of functioning” for the rout.

“The party has no performance anywhere except Punjab. The reason is that one man — Kejriwal — hijacked the decision-making process in the name of Swaraj. There is no inner party democracy, PAC was never consulted either on leaving the government or in the matter of ticket distribution. It is just the Arvind-Manish clique that is running the party,” he said.

Other AAP leaders made little effort to hide their disappointment with the Delhi results or that the party may have paid the price for Kejriwal’s hasty resignation. What they refuse to acknowledge, however, is how the party spread itself too thin contesting 443 seats with a Rs 37 crore kitty against the better judgement of Kejriwal and how it may have paid the price of diluting its original Assembly poll plank of corruption to start talking about communalism as an equal if not greater menace.

Kejriwal’s first declaration at the India Islamic Cultural Centre, when he had said communalism is a bigger menace, had met with Twitter outrage, forcing him to revise it to say that the two are equally big problems. But the taint of attempted appeasement may not have entirely worn away from the party that first woke up to the potential Muslim support after the Assembly polls and then went all out to woo the community, hobnobbing with controversial cleric Maulana Tauqueer Raza and the Aligarh Muslim University Old Boys’ Association.

The eye-ball grabbing tactic of fielding Kejriwal against Modi in Varanasi got the party headlines and Muslim support, but cost it a sure seat. There is little doubt within the party or outside that had the former Delhi chief minister chosen a Delhi seat, the party’s tally would have been five instead of four.

Kumar Vishwas, AAP’s so-called youth icon, after camping in Amethi for five months, had a 25000-plus tally to show — barely managing to save his deposit in the high-profile constituency. There are some views that while Vishwas raked up the anti incumbency sentiment, it was BJP’s Smriti Irani who walked away with the votes.

The party has four seats in Punjab as consolation prize but the Delhi defeat clearly rankles. Both Yogendra Yadav — who came fourth in Gurgaon — and Kejriwal have admitted that the Delhi results have been a shocker.

Yadav, along with Sanjay Singh, had been among the prime votaries of the plan to contest as many seats as possible. When the party’s political affairs committee meets, possibly next week, dissension is inevitable over whether Kejriwal’s formula of contesting limited seats with full force would have paid better dividends. Yadav says had the party adopted that formula, it would have never contested Fatehgarh Saheb and Faridkot, both of which it won.

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  1. K
    May 19, 2014 at 2:09 pm
    Arvind Kejriwal should resign and a new leader should be elected. He clearly has become highly autocratic and self centered, AAP can still be an alternative to congress.
  2. r
    May 17, 2014 at 9:05 am
    Doesn't this sound the bugle for realignment of strategies with the principles of AAP? Time to introspect, reflect, organise, and move ahead. Teething problems are galore in any new party but that doesn't make its intentions questionable. AAP is the only alternative to the muscle-money politics in Punjab. I am sure AAP is going to resonate with more people in the future.
  3. r
    May 17, 2014 at 9:14 am
    Well, this could be the sound of the bugle asking AAP to realign their strategies with their issues and principles. There is no doubt that AAP is the only alternative to the muscle-money politics in Punjab. Teething problems are galore in any new organisation but as long as the intention is good, these problems can be overcome by introspection, reflection, strategising , and respect for contrary opinion within the party.
  4. Z
    May 18, 2014 at 4:44 am
    AAP made bad decisions and lost. However I would very much like if they remain active as a party.