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Saturday, Sep 21, 2019

MCD poll results: Drop in AAP’s vote share puts question mark on future

The BJP scored a hat-trick in the Delhi civic polls as it comfortably retained control of the three municipal corporations, dealing a severe blow to the AAP and dashing the Congress’ hope of a revival.

delhi Updated: Apr 27, 2017 10:06 IST
Vishal Kant
Vishal Kant
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
File photo of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal
File photo of Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal(Mohd Zakir/HT File Photo)

From forcing two main national parties to a corner in 2015, to questions being raised over its own ‘political existence’, the slide for the Aam Aadmi Party has been steep over the past two years.

While the AAP won with a brute majority in 2015 assembly elections, the AAP emerged distant second in the municipal elections.

The result will force the Aam Aadmi Party, especially its chief Arvind Kejriwal, who was positioning himself as a challenger to Prime Minister Narendra Modi by taking him on in public discourse, to ask some uncomfortable questions.

Kejriwal will need to figure how a city he had mesmerised in 2015, had since so decisively swung away from him and his ‘anti-politics’ plank.

AAP’s rout in the MCD polls is also being seen as a personal setback to Kejriwal as the party had put forth a clash between brand Kejriwal versus brand Modi, describing the Prime Minister as the only lifeline for the BJP’s alleged misrule in the MCD.

What would haunt the Kejriwal-led party more is that unlike the 2015 Assembly elections, when Modi led the BJP’s campaign from the front, the Prime Minister didn’t speak a word in the run-up to the campaign this time even as his party leaders on the ground sought votes in his name.

While several BJP’s posters had pictures of the national and state president, Amit Shah and Manoj Tiwari respectively, on them, only Kejriwal dawned in all the AAP hoardings plastered across the city. Even the party’s name was missing from some hoardings, putting a premium on Kejriwal’s goodwill.

In comparison to 2015 assembly polls, the vote share of the AAP decreased almost by half from 54.3% to 26.21% in the 2017 municipal polls. Experts, however, said that the party must not lose hope as 26% was a good number for any political party.

“In a way, the party has received almost one of every four votes in this elections. It appears bad only when compared to its vote share in the previous election. All the party needs to do is focus on delivery,’ said Sanjay Kumar of CSDS.

Toeing the line it took after the Punjab assembly elections, the AAP said the margin of loss in the MCD polls was indicative of the fact that the EVMs used in the poll was rigged.

Sources within the party, however, said not many within the party were buying the official line.

“Only investigations will prove if there was any tampering. But the fact remains that the AAP on the ground on Sunday was not the same as it was in 2013 or 2015.

Booth management is key for winning any election. Unlike in 2015, when energetic AAP volunteers dominated almost all the booths, the number of volunteers at polling booths this time was far lesser than the BJP and Congress,” said an office bearer of AAP.

Party leaders said several party volunteers stopped working on the ground after distribution of tickets, which became one of the reasons for AAP’s poor performance.

“Some volunteers felt cheated as allegations of outsiders, or those who recently joined the party, being given tickets was rife. Many volunteers stayed with the party’s decision but chose to work in other constituencies and not in their wards, hence proving ineffective,” a party leader said.

The fact that the rank and file was unhappy with the party’s decisions and strategies was also reflected by the open rebellion by legislators and senior party leaders.

AAP’s Bawana legislator Ved Parkash quit the party and the Delhi Assembly days ahead of the polls and joined the BJP. Janakpuri MLA Rajesh Rishi also went public ‘warning’ Kejriwal of saving the party from heading towards defeat as he was surrounded by a ‘coterie’ which was not giving him the right feedback.

Senior AAP leader Kumar Vishwas had also criticised the party and stayed away from campaigning despite being on the star campaigners list of the party.

First Published: Apr 27, 2017 07:14 IST