The year 2017 was to be a crucial one for the AAP. It had pinned its hopes on a win in Punjab but with its poor performance in the state, the party has now decided not to contest Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh. A senior Aam Aadmi Party leader, who did not wish to be quoted, said the party was focusing on “regrouping” in Delhi, its home turf. The leader cited “lack of adequate organisational strength” in the state. The party was currently convincing a section of state leaders about the move, who were in favour of contesting the polls, before making the decision official.
In June, the state leaders had appraised the leadership of the organisational strength, but there was an ambivalence on contesting the polls. The Political Affairs Committee (PAC), the AAP’s top decision-making body, would soon take a call, making an official decision on this. The party has also decided not to contest polls in Himachal Pradesh. Incidentally, the AAP was to contest 2012 polls in the hill state, but later decided to make its political debut from Delhi a year later.
Gujarat was also the state where the AAP and its chief Arvind Kejriwal had invested a lot of political capital keeping in mind the 2017 assembly polls scheduled by the end of the year. From picking on contentious issues for a new entrant in the state politics — the simmering discontent within the Patidar community, the agrarian crisis and the “atrocities” on Dalits and making frequent trips to the state — the script now seems to have gone haywire.
By mid-2016, the AAP had chalked out its plan to go national in a big way. A win in Punjab was paramount to give its national ambitions a fillip. However, the party realised that it was lacking traction in the coastal state. Banking on ten-years of anti-incumbency, the “misrule” of the Badals and factionalism in the Congress, the party pulled out all stops to ensure a victory in the state. However, the results were unexpected for the party. To make things worse, the Punjab polls and a massive win of the BJP in Uttar Pradesh had a cascading effect on the polls in Delhi. The AAP won 20 seats in Punjab and could not open an account in Goa.
It was handed over a humiliating defeat in an assembly by-poll and crucial MCD elections, with its bastion coming under threat. Since then, several major changes have taken place within the party with Delhi getting a new convener in form of Labour Minister Gopal Rai.