Former British Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s famous aphorism about a "week being a long time in politics" is coming perilously true in the case of AAP. After its astounding performance in the Delhi assembly polls in December last year, its success was interpreted by experts as having made a dent in the nation’s imagination. Such an effusive endorsement of its success rested on two foundations: Its people-friendly approach came as a refreshing change from the politics that other parties were pursuing. And the maverick image of the party’s leader, Arvind Kejriwal, connected well with the urban youth, who found in him and his radicalism something that they might have liked to air. However, its failure in the Lok Sabha elections seemed to create for AAP a setback that often happens to any party when it suffers poll reverses. So, in this respect, the case of AAP proved no different.
The upshot of all the developments that took place since the Lok Sabha elections or even before — such as the resignations of well-known functionaries both from the party as well as its vital organs — is that AAP could not make up its mind whether it was a party in the conventional sense of the term or a mass organisation, given the fact that it arose out of a hugely popular mass movement initiated by anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare. Shazia Ilmi’s grounds for resignation — though highly questionable — bespeak of tendencies that creep in when an outfit goes through a transition phase. Also discernible was a degree of waywardness in the way Mr Kejriwal comported himself, such as his constant ranting against the influence of big money in politics without being able to offer some substance to it. Finally it is becoming increasingly palpable that the precipitate decision of Mr Kejriwal to resign as Delhi chief minister has not been taken by the people in good part.
But to say at this stage that AAP has been totally rejected by the people is to disrespect their wisdom. AAP had spread its net too wide and, therefore, could not concentrate on its core. Now that the Haryana polls are in the offing, it is time for
Mr Kejriwal and Yogendra Yadav to get down to brass tacks and flesh out before the electorate the party’s policies and programmes. A manifesto style of connecting will not work for AAP.