Lok Sabha elections 2019: Rude jolt to AAP’s national dreams

In 2015, when the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won 67 of Delhi’s 70 assembly seats, it emerged as the alternative to the Capital’s bipolar polity and hoped to expand into a national player. A year earlier, the fledging party which rode an anti-corruption movement, won four of Punjab’s 13 Parliamentary seats.

The national ambitions of the party, however, got a rude jolt on Thursday. It lost all seven seats in Delhi and won only one seat in Punjab.

Barring state unit president and Sangrur MP Bhagwant Mann, all other candidates forfeited their security deposits in Punjab. Its vote share in the state slumped from 25 to 7.36 percent.

In Delhi, the AAP’s vote share reduced from 33% in 2014 to 18.1% (till 10pm) in 2019.

Accepting the party’s defeat, Delhi chief minister and AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal said his party would continue to work for the people of the national Capital. “We had fielded very good candidates in Delhi and had done a good campaign. All party workers also had put a lot of hard work. We accept people’s mandate. We will keep working for the people of Delhi,” he said in a tweet in Hindi.

Three AAP candidates are likely to lose their deposits as the votes polled in their favour is less than the mandatory 16.66% of the total votes polled in that constituency. These include northeast Delhi candidate Dilip Pandey, Chandni Chowk contestant Pankaj Gupta and Brijesh Goyal from New Delhi.

East Delhi’s Atishi, who was being projected as the party’s most popular candidate, also came third with 17.44% votes.

The party’s south Delhi candidate Raghav Chadha and northwest Delhi contestant Gugan Singh finished second and were the only face savers for AAP.

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The party also failed to open its account in Haryana where the party had forged an alliance with the Jannayak Janata Party (JJP).

Experts say that the big concern for AAP lies not just in how it can revive itself nationally but also it can safeguard its home turf of Delhi.

“It will have to see how it will boost the morale of the party workers. AAP is going to face a serious crisis when it goes for assembly elections next year,” said Sanjay Kumar, director at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS).

Kumar said that another worry for the AAP is going to be the vote-split between itself and the Congress, which as per the 2019 Lok Sabha results, benefited the latter. “The Congress coming number two is an indication that people are thinking of rejecting AAP and seeking an alternative in the Congress, which was not the case in 2014” he said.

Political analyst Manisha Priyam said an AAP-Congress alliance, which failed to materialise, would not have succeeded in swinging the votes from the BJP.

“The results show that in almost all seven seats in Delhi, an AAP-Congress alliance would not have matched up to the BJP’s vote share. It suggests that it is not always about the arithmetic, but is more about the chemistry. This needs to be created by building a serious opposition agenda and a serious narrative,” she said.

AAP fought this election on the key poll plank of full statehood to Delhi, but said Kumar, “The personality of Narendra Modi and the trust people have in him, did not allow the electorate to buy the argument.”

First Published:
May 24, 2019 06:24 IST

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