The Aam Aadmi Party's ambition to become a national party by fielding over 400 candidates seems to have turned out to be a damp squib. Its gamble to expand its footprint across the country - instead of concentrating on its strongholds - has not worked as the Arvind Kejriwal-led party is unlikely to win 6% votes in four states, a prerequisite to get the coveted national party status.
Although the nascent political party is set to win four seats in Punjab, the AAP will still fall short of the Election Commission's stipulation to secure at least 6% votes in four or more states and at least four MPs in any state. Winning at least 11 Lok Sabha seats is the other criterion to be recognised as a national party. The AAP doesn't make that cut either.
The party has secured 6% votes only in Punjab and Delhi, polling 33% and 24% votes respectively. In Haryana, from where the AAP kicked off its 'national campaign,' the party has managed to bag merely 4.2% of the total votes polled. In the remaining states, its performance has been even more dismal.
The debutant party, which sprang a surprise in Delhi assembly elections last year winning 28 seats, drew a blank in the Lok Sabha elections, although its vote share recorded a marginal increase.
The failure to get the national party status has stirred a debate within the party whether the strategy to go big was correct.
"It was indeed a blunder to spread thin with no resources at our disposal," a party leader admitted on condition of anonymity. The party failed to support its candidates in majority of the states asking them to fend for themselves.
Apart from the lack of funds, the party also failed to spare its star campaigner Kejriwal for campaigning in most of the states. "We would have stood some chance if Kejriwal had campaigned in the state even once," party's Rajasthan convenor Ashok Jain told HT.
Similarly, the Madhya Pradesh state unit failed to convince Kejriwal to hold even one rally there. Most of the state units were deeply upset over the party's central leadership concentrating all its resources only in two seats - Amethi and Varanasi.
"While the senior party leadership had no time for most of the states, they could devote one month in Varanasi and Amethi," a state party leader told HT. The central leadership, however, refuted the allegations of overreach and neglect of most of the constituencies.
"By going big we have managed to erect a basic minimum infrastructure for the party," senior AAP leader Prashant Bhushan told HT.