AAP makes BJP reflect: Credibility counts

The importance of image and credibility is a lesson the BJP has acknowledged.

Written by Ravish Tiwari | New Delhi | Published: December 11, 2013 11:33 pm

Alongside the Aam Aadmi Party’s performance in Delhi,what has given BJP a cause for introspection is the performance of a candidate the AAP had fielded and then withdrawn support to. By the time the AAP decided not to back Prit Pal Singh from Rajouri Garden,it was too late to withdraw his nomination. His name remained on the EVM,alongside the broom symbol. Such was the impression the broom had created that Prit Pal Singh secured 17,022 votes and finished third even though he had lost the AAP’s support.

The importance of image and credibility is a lesson the BJP has acknowledged. “The BJP’s march to comfortable majority has not been interrupted by the Congress. It has been interrupted by AAP,” Arun Jaitley noted in a post Monday on Facebook. “The lesson for the BJP of these results is that the credibility-quotient counts in an election. The image of the leadership,as also of the candidate,must inspire confidence amongst the voters. Those who have a track record of serving their constituency well,have a better chance of being elected.”

A party functionary who campaigned in Delhi conceded the party had failed to select candidates on these counts. “What do you expect when we repeat almost 50 of our candidates from the previous elections without verifying their image and work? We even gave tickets to relatives of party leaders. This was unacceptable when Narendra Modi is going to town taunting ‘Shehzade’. Only one of these won,while half our sitting MLAs lost,” the leader said.

A party MP,who too campaigned in parts of Delhi,acknowledged the AAP’s success will force the party to go back to its original thrust — look at the candidate’s conduct first. “(Presumed) winnability and resources for contesting elections appeared to have been the major factors in selecting the candidates,” said the MP. “The AAP’s performance will force a rethink and restore the primacy of the image of the candidate.”

“We will have to be careful in selection of candidates at urban centres,” agreed another MP,who has served several terms. “They should be young and uncontroversial.”

The party was,however,divided about how far and wide Arvind Kejriwal’s appeal will hold in future elections. Some believe he will be confined to Delhi; others are wary about what the AAP may do to the BJP support base at other urban centres.

“The AAP will remain confined to Delhi. The way people in Kerala used to say Vajpayee is a good man and leave it at that,the same thing will happen to Kejriwal and AAP outside Delhi,” predicted one of the MPs. The other disagreed: “We underestimated him. This is a new challenge. Initially,young voters identified Narendra Modi as an alternative to Pappu (Rahul Gandhi),but in urban areas,the youth will have an option in Kejriwal. We must be alive to this challenge.”

Jaitley did not dismiss the AAP’s future prospects either. “The days of conventional politics are now over. Is the AAP merely a freak phenomenon? Or is it going to be a lasting experiment? The last word on this cannot be said at this moment,” he noted.

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