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HindustanTimes Mon,22 Sep 2014

Negative campaign, undue focus on Varanasi causes of AAP's poll debacle

Brajesh Kumar, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, May 17, 2014
First Published: 21:02 IST(17/5/2014) | Last Updated: 21:08 IST(17/5/2014)
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has admitted that it ran a negative campaign in the run up to the Lok Sabha elections and gave undue focus on Varanasi at the cost of other constituencies.
 
The party's top decision-making body, the political affairs committee (PAC), which includes most of the senior leaders like Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Shazia Ilmi, and Yogendra Yadav, in its first post-results review meeting held on Saturday, attributed the two reasons for its poll debacle.
 
Although the party won four seats in Punjab, it failed to win any seat in Delhi, where only a few months earlier it swept to power in the assembly elections held in December. 
 
In other states, most of its candidates fared badly with a number of them losing their security deposits.   
 
"The two points were raised by some members of the PAC and there was consensus that the party could have focused equally on other constituencies instead of focusing on Varanasi and also that it could have offered its vision instead of criticizing one and all," a senior party leader told HT on condition of anonymity.   
 
The party has received flak from its own members for diverting all its resources to Varanasi from where its chief Arvind Kejriwal contested against BJP's prime minister-designate Narendra Modi, leaving over 400 other candidates fending for themselves.
 
Its entire senior leadership was camping in the holy city for a month before the elections devising strategy and campaigning for Kejriwal.
 
"We discussed that we could have supported some candidates if not all instead of leaving them on their own," the leader said.
 
The other point discussed in the meeting was its campaign strategy which was largely negative with its leaders painting everyone black.
 
"Apart from calling names we should also have offered our solutions," the leader said.  The AAP campaign throughout focused on Modi and his association with industry barons like Ambani and Adani.
 
The PAC also discussed the party's decision to quit the Delhi government within 49 days of coming to power in January this year, and its effect on this election.
 
Although Kejriwal had earlier publicly admitted that the decision was not communicated well to the public, the PAC discussed it threadbare and there was unanimity that the party had erred and it did not go down well with the people.
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