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AAP must now begin afresh with a clear direction

comment Updated: May 21, 2014 23:21 IST
Hindustan Times
Aam Aadmi Party

Learn to walk before you can run. A belated bit of advice but one that AAP should have heeded quite a while back.

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had everything going for him when he rabble-roused his way to the chief minister’s office in December.

But then he stepped down after just 49 days, apologised to the people of Delhi for resigning midway and has now sought fresh assembly elections in Delhi.

This sudden bout of realisation comes after AAP’s rout in the general elections. Putting the cart before the horse, AAP chose to field contest 434 seats nationwide, more than the BJP and the Congress did, instead of consolidating its support base in Delhi, its core constituency, where the party drew a blank in the general elections.

That 96% of its candidates lost their security deposits in the recent polls shows that AAP tried to bite off more than it could chew. The barely over a-year-old party frittered away the advantage it had in Delhi where it made a stunning debut in the assembly elections last year.

By reducing the fight against Narendra Modi, who will be sworn as prime minister on May 26, in Varanasi to a battle of prestige, Mr Kejriwal, who was taken into custody by the Delhi Police on Wednesday in connection with a defamation case, failed to focus on other constituencies where candidates were left to fend for themselves.

Its own members criticised the top leadership for diverting all its resources to Varanasi, where Mr Kejriwal outdid Mr Modi in spending on campaigning, and Amethi where Kumar Vishwas, who is among the prominent faces of the party, got about 3% of total votes polled and lost his deposit.

Though AAP ruled out the possibility of holding a public referendum in Delhi, the fact that people have not given it a mandate in the general elections is a referendum in itself that AAP must not ignore.

With a strong and stable government at the Centre, the Delhi elections may not go AAP’s way in the manner in which it would like it to. AAP has to pick up from where it started, this time with a clear and strategic direction.