CHANDIGARH/NEW DELHI: The BJP’s poor performance in the latest bypolls may have grabbed the headlines but the story that got little traction was the Aam Aadmi Party’s loss in yet another election in Punjab, reinforcing the view that the AAP is only a Delhi-centric party.
The party’s candidate managed to poll only 1,900 votes, just 632 more than NOTA, in Shahkot. The defeat comes after a series of losses in various elections in Punjab, where the party was once seen as a serious contender.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh dismissed the Arvind Kejriwal-led party outfit as a has-been. “The AAP has completely lost the script and is no longer relevant in the country’s political arena,’’ he said, adding the party must pack its bags and leave instead of continuing to shame itself with electoral defeats.
Political observers were also of the view that AAP’s national ambitions would not see the light of the day owing to its limited base and for the moment, it should work with other Opposition parties and not go it alone.
“The party has a Delhi base. It is important that it keeps its base intact while trying to stay relevant in national politics. For doing this, the party needs to be part of a large, pan-India, anti-BJP coalition. Kejriwal attending Karnataka Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy’s swearing-in, which was touted to be a show of Opposition strength, is a good beginning,” political analyst Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay said.
Similar views were echoed by Jai Mrug, director of Voter Mood Research. “There are reports that the AAP wants to contest the Haryana elections. If they plan to do it alone, it is a bad sign. The AAP needs to ally with the Congress to make itself relevant. Even in Delhi for the 2019 polls, there is every chance that the BJP will not retain even one of the seven parliamentary seats if the AAP forms a coalition with the Congress,” he said.
Professor Sudha Pai of JNU felt the AAP lacked a national vision. “The party has been so intrinsically involved in Delhi politics that they now feel the strategy which fetched them success in the capital will work everywhere,” she said.
“For now, the best option that the AAP has is to ally with local parties in each state. Failing to do so will mean an end to their national dreams.”