A day after Manish Sisodia hinted that Aam Aadmi Party chief Arvind Kejriwal may fight elections in Punjab, the Delhi Chief Minister ruled out any such move. The clarification from the Aam Aadmi Party convenor just days ahead of the elections shows that Kejriwal cannot afford to leave Delhi and take a position in another state till he sees out his tenure as Delhi CM.
The manner in which his first government came to power was unprecedented. AAP was still in its nascent stage and the people of Delhi put their faith in Kejriwal and his party members for a ‘clean government.’ Kejriwal’s first government resigned within a matter of 47 days after he failed to introduce the Lokpal Bill in the Delhi Assembly in 2013.
Their resignation drew massive backlash from the public as the capital was pushed into president’s rule and people felt cheated as their elected government didn’t stand up to the difficulties they were facing. Kejriwal and his AAP quickly attained the reputation of runaways.
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Those incidents came to haunt them back again when Kejriwal forayed into national politics. His party fought the Lok Sabha elections in over 400 seats. The party could only win 4 seats including defeats in all seven seats in Delhi to the BJP. This was one of the most humiliating defeats for Kejriwal and one that he would not have expected. After all, he was pitching himself as the PM candidate in 2014.
Kejriwal, however, soon realised that his party still stands a chance in Delhi. Exactly a year after his first minority government had resigned, AAP fought the elections and won with a massive mandate. He took oath on February 14, 2015. The promise this time was he will not desert the citizens of Delhi like before. He accepted his mistake publicly and got support of the Delhi voters.
Kejriwal’s credibility as a leader strongly depends on his commitment to the citizens of Delhi. No matter how beneficial Kejriwal may prove to be in Punjab elections for AAP, it would be self-destructing to lose Delhi’s faith for Punjab. Citizens feeling betrayed by political parties of the day found a choice in Kejriwal’s alternative politics. He has to maintain that faith if the AAP wants to establish a national imprint.
The party will fight elections in many more states and will look to expand its reach to the farthest possible points in the country. But, to gain ground, AAP must groom leaders from the ground and not depend on Kejriwal to ‘act’ as the CM candidate to have any chance at winning the election. It is not a matter of electoral victory for Kejriwal. He finds himself in a fight for his reputation, threat of being called a runaway again and struggle to maintain his credibility.
Another important aspect for Kejriwal to consider is that his presence in Delhi allows him to be in the forefront of any agitation against the Central government. His political maneuvering in the Capital keeps him in the public eye.