Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party may be down in Delhi’s municipal elections but is not out.
Writing an obituary for the Capital’s ruling party based on the outcome of a civic election would be foolish, as the five-year-old party has tremendous comeback ability.
It was routed in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, not winning one of the seven seats in the Capital. But nine months later, it created poll history by winning 67 of the 70 assembly seats in Delhi.
Born out of a people’s movement against corruption, the party needs to re-invent itself and reconnect with people as it did after the 2014 election.
A party that thrived on people connect saw its leaders shut themselves in the secretariat after coming to power, choosing radio jingles and advertisements to communicate with supporters.
The party of “street fighters” went missing from localities and got alienated.
Kejriwal has to go back to people and explain his government’s policies that should have an inclusive vision for the national capital.
The Kejriwal government is seen as working for only 40% of the population, which lives in slums and unauthorised colonies. Middle class, vital to AAP’s wins in 2013 and 2015 assembly polls, feels ignored.
More importantly, the party needs to shun its confrontationist image and have a more constructive outlook. This is what Kejriwal did after the 2014 loss. He did not utter a word against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and convinced people of his plan for a better Delhi.
The AAP government can no longer blame the Centre for its failures. It promised free Wi-Fi zones in the city, a waste-management system, safety of women, a crackdown on water mafia, a modern transport system and much more.
Half-way into his term, Kejriwal has to start delivering on his promises.
The Modi government has already shown it will not oppose good governance moves of the AAP government. The Centre supported Kejriwal’s car-rationing plan and the AAP should seek its support more often as is being done by other opposition ruled states.
The civic polls show the AAP’s weakest link is its “missing” volunteers who were instrumental in its poll success. The inability of the leadership to empower volunteers on the ground and lumpen elements taking over the local units left many volunteers disenchanted.
Kejriwal, who before turning to politics was a Right to Information and an anti-corruption activist, has had many setbacks in public life. His never say die spirit, I am sure, will see him set aside the civic poll setback and move on.