Journey to make AAP a special political party

Dr Bhupendra kumar sullere

The AAP’s political journey has been dramatic with many twists and turns. The party has grown beyond recognition

When Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal launched his Aam Aadmi party in 2012 and bid for power the following year, no one thought he would find political space and sustain himself. A decade later, today, he has changed from the self-projected role of an angry young man to an ‘ambitious young man’ with grand plans for himself and his young Party. With two states- Delhi and Punjab- under his belt, Kejriwal wants to lead the Opposition in the 2024 Lok Sabha polls. He has three goals:

Expand his Party to as many states as possible.
Find a place in the country’s political high table.
Position himself as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s primary challenger.
His optimism comes out in his recent prophecy, “Time is very powerful; nothing is permanent in the world. If one thinks that one will remain in power forever, then that’s not going to happen. Today we’re in power in Delhi, and they’re (BJP) in power in Centre; Tomorrow it might happen we’ll be in power in Centre,”

The AAP’s political journey has seen dramatic twists and turns. The Party has grown beyond recognition. Born from the India Against Corruption movement, the AAP decimated Congress and the BJP in the 2013 Delhi Assembly elections. After 49 days, he quit as chief minister, only to return in 2015 and 2021. The AAP has no Lok Sabha MP but boasts 10 members in the Rajya Sabha. It is the only Party other than the Congress and the BJP to control power in two states, Delhi and Punjab.

The Party lost miserably in the 2019 parliamentary elections in Delhi. At another level, AAP faced a setback as it could not muster even one per cent of votes in the assembly elections in Haryana, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. But the landslide win in Punjab last year brought back cheers.

After last year’s Gujarat polls, AAP is again ascending by gaining the national party status. It is the ninth national Party. Compared to AAP, Samajwadi Party, JD(U), Telugu Desam, Rashtriya Janata Dal, and Bharatiya Rashtra Samithi couldn’t move beyond their turf. Parties like NCP, TMC, CPI, and BSP face derecognition.

Like many other Opposition parties, AAP faced pinpricks from the Centre. These have demoralized the Party and created a fear complex. After weighing the pros and cons, the AAP chief has decided to take on the BJP headlong, particularly after the recent arrests of his two ministers, Sisodia and Satyednra Jain. For instance, despite the mutual discomfort between the two rivals -AAP and Congress- Kejriwal blasted BJP after the recent court verdict and the subsequent disqualification of Congress leader Rahul Gandhi from Lok Sabha.

The AAP chief alleged Modi is the most corrupt Prime Minister. He criticized the Prime Minister for his alleged closeness to industrialist Gautam Adani and joined the Opposition in their demand for a Joint Parliamentary probe last session. He has questioned Modi’s educational qualifications and asked if his “degree is fake”. This came a day after Gujarat High Court fined Kejriwal and ruled that PM’s degree details were unnecessary.

Kejriwal went to the Lion’s Den Gujarat by talking about his “Delhi model.” during the last year’s Assembly polls. Modi came to power propagating his Gujarat model. “Kejriwal has openly joined other opposition leaders to challenge Modi before the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.

There are many ifs and buts before Kejriwal could achieve his goals. AAP continues to concentrate on bread-and-butter issues and those about the common man. Kejriwal plays a soft Hindutva to attract Hindu voters. He wants to win voters by offering freebies.

To succeed, Kejriwal must build his Party and sell his ‘Delhi model” successfully. Several factors influence the voters, including grassroots organization, anti-BJP sentiment, a credible local face, and the potential for implementing the Delhi model. Secondly, Kejriwal needs to build second-line state leaders. The Party’s founding members, such as Prashant Bhushan, Yogendra Yadav, Shazia Ilmi, Kumar Vishwas, and Ashutosh, and civil society members, in the past decade, quit the Party protesting against Kejriwal’s highhandedness. Before the 2022 Assembly election, at least 11 MLAs either quit the Party or were disqualified.

Thirdly, he has made a personality cult around himself, and all powers are centred on him. He must learn to share power instead of concentrating entirely on himself. The fourth is to build friendships with opposition leaders and mend fences with Congress. 2023 will be a trial run before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections for all parties, but more so for AAP. Ultimately, win or lose depends on his electoral calculations and voters’ reactions.

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