In ultra-fast hurry mode, the world has learnt a lot about the Aam Aadmi Party in the last few months. The party has opined on subjects well beyond its area of responsibility and expertise, for example, foreign policy, and well within it, for instance, policies on water, electricity, law and order, and how to run a government (from the street or from the office). The media and glitterati have been chattering about the AAP even at dinner. The Congress seems to be caught in the AAP headlights like an ultra-frightened deer. Before one could say copycat, the two states ruled by it — Haryana and Maharashtra — have already announced power cuts along the socialist vision lines of the AAP in Delhi. Mercifully, they haven’t gone the full hog with subsidies for the rich as per Arvind Kejriwal’s dictatorial water policy in Delhi.
Should the AAP be getting this much attention since, at best, it is leading a government with outside support in the small state of Delhi? Obviously not, except for the fact that there is considerable speculation about the impact of the AAP in the national elections a few months hence. It is in this context that the AAP’s actions of recent days have to be considered. By leading a protest march against the Central government, the AAP may not have won hearts and minds, but it has surely won all the TV ratings. One hypothesis that deserves serious discussion is to what extent the media and journalist savvy AAP calculated that the national exposure guaranteed by the protest led by the mad anarchist (not mine but Kejriwal’s and the Union home minister’s words) may not have been so mad.
The results of two opinion polls — India Today and CNN-IBN — have just been released, and both point to more hype than substance in the projections of the AAP as even a semi-major force in Indian politics. Among the major states, the AAP receives a national vote share of 4.6 per cent; excluding Delhi, its national vote share drops to 3.9 per cent. In terms of seats, the AAP receives five in Delhi (both polls) and four outside Delhi (IT poll, with CNN-IBN not making any seat projections). To put this in perspective, the BSP received 8 per cent of the national vote share in 2009, and the CPM-CPI together received 5 per cent. And recall that a political party is considered a “national” party only if it receives more than 6 per cent of the vote in at least four states. Even after all the news, publicity, moral superiority and arrogance, the AAP will fulfil these criteria (according to the opinion polls) in only three states: Delhi (48 per cent), Haryana (17 per cent), and Gujarat (12 per cent).
Both opinion polls were conducted before the AAP’s mad escapade. It is possible its popularity will go down; it is also possible, but not likely, that its popularity will go up continued…