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Where did the Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal Go Wrong?

Where did the Aam Aadmi Party and Arvind Kejriwal Go Wrong?

Aam Aadmi Party, the newest political party in India, surprised the entire nation and shocked all the other political parties with its success in the Delhi state assembly election in December by winning 28 out of 70 seats just 8 seats short of an absolute majority.

Aam Aadmi Party election poster. Photo: Ramesh Lalwani

Aam Aadmi Party election poster. Photo: Ramesh Lalwani

Aam Aadmi Party turned out to be the second largest party after the Bharatiya Janata Party, who won 32 seats in that election. The Congress party, which has ruled that state for three consecutive terms under the leadership of Sheila Dixit, was almost electorally wiped out. This was a historical event in the political history of India and leaders and supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party were exited with their success. Millions of people spotted Arvind Kejriwal as a rising politician with a clean image and hoped that he and his party would revolutionize India’s politics.

Unfortunately, four months after the historical success in the Delhi election, Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party will face questions from supporters who believe that they have been betrayed. Of course, Indian voters are very emotive, but the real reason behind their anger and reaction towards the Aam Aadmi Party is a number of erroneous and perplexing decisions made by party officials.

Aam Aadmi Party’s choice to challenge both the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress during the election was the first step in the wrong direction. Both the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress are well equipped with financial resources and professional politicians. Congress is more than a century old and the Bharatiya Janata Party’s roots go back all the way to 1925. As a matter of fact this situation was working against these grand old parties and in favor of the Aam Aadmi Party, because people of Delhi wanted leaders with a clean image and so they overwhelmingly supported the Aam Aadmi Party candidates. Unfortunately, the Aam Aadmi Party failed to capitalize on the situation and could not turn people’s support into a permanent asset because Aam Aadmi Party’s choice in joining a coalition with Congress.

Throughout the election campaign, the Aam Aadmi Party was blaming Congress for corruption, inflation and other problems and once the election was over the Aam Aadmi Party formed a coalition with Congress to amass power. The politically inexperienced leadership of Aam Aadmi Party fell into a Congress party trap and was compelled to form a government that was predestined to fail.

Secondly, the young, energetic, honest and enthusiastic leaders of the Aam Aadmi Party lost their focus when some of them decided to stand in Lok Sabha elections against Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. Aam Aadmi Party leaders were extremely excited by the super performance of the party in Delhi election, especially by defeating Sheila Dixit by approximately 22,000 votes, and decided to beat two of the biggest leaders of the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress. Young and dynamic Kumar Vishwas decided to run against Rahul Gandhi and Arvind Kejriwal chose to run against Narendra Modi in the 2014 general election. The goal to beat Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi was seen as personal achievement of Kumar Vishwas and Arvind Kejriwal and this move of the Aam Aadmi Party were seen as a heavy shift from the fundamental ideology of the newly formed party. Even though these Aam Aadmi Party leaders beat Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi, the party will not recover its image from the damages done by the fiasco of 49 days of government in Delhi.

Once the elections are over and the results are announced on May 16th, the first thing Aam Aadmi Party leadership should do is sit down and analyze past events, including mistakes they made, and evaluate the possibilities of improving the party’s image and refocus on its goals. It may take years of patience, but if the Aam Aadmi Party sticks with its original goals and ideology, the people of India may give this party another opportunity. The era of small and regional parties is soon coming to an end and the Aam Aadmi Party could be a valuable player in Indian politics in coming years.

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