AAP Has Much to Cheer About

Published: May 20, 2014 10:16 IST
Captain GR Gopinath: (Captain GR Gopinath founded Air Deccan and is considered a pioneer in the low-cost airline sector. He joined Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party in January this year.)

Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP have a lot to reflect on and much to cheer about.

It has been a crushing defeat for the AAP in the general elections. That is, if the results in terms of numbers are compared with the pompous and tall claims made by their leaders in the run-up to the elections. When they were catapulted to power in the Delhi state elections in a meteoric rise, they paid tributes to the astuteness and political sagacity of our common people. They won the hearts of the people and demonstrated that they could win an election without appealing to caste, creed or religion and without relying on money and muscle power. (Disappointed With Results in Delhi, Admits Arvind Kejriwal)

If now, people have rejected the AAP with a clear mandate in favour of Modi and BJP, then this verdict must also be respected in all humility. There's no place for blaming it on crony capitalism, or paid media or polarisation of voters by Modi and his hard liners, or the successful false propaganda of the Gujarat model by Modi's advertisement blitzkrieg.

A quick analysis would reveal to any one that Arvind Kejriwal made a few cardinal mistakes. Most would agree that after taking over the Delhi government,  AAP actions and behaviour left much to be desired. There was arrogance, blind defence of many of their ministers and leaders who behaved irresponsibly, shooting from the hip on serious policy issues be it Kashmir or FDI, and erratic and populist measures like massive subsidies for water and electricity.

The list is long.  

It was followed by mistakes made in the election campaign. There was too much venom, avoidable personalised attacks and veering away from concrete issues of development, economy, jobs creation and good governance.

May be the strategy to take Narendra Modi head-on in Varanasi was not wise, though it may have yielded good media coverage. It may have been better to choose 30 or 40 constituencies where the AAP was sure of victory. The focus should have been on identifying and cultivating winnable seats recognising the many constraints on a new party, rather than getting trapped in the bravado of challenging Rahul or Modi.

Even the BJP fielded only 383 seats. AAP put up 446.

If AAP shows genuine remorse and truly respects the people's 'will,' then they are the best people to figure out what went wrong, what mistakes were made and what needs to be done if they hope to continue in politics to make a difference.  

However all is not lost. Viewed dispassionately, the AAP has much to cheer about, even if many soothsayers have written them off. For a new party which is less than a year old, they have opened their account in Parliament with 4 MPs. That is truly creditable. They should look back 30 years when the BJP had only two members in parliament when they split from the Janata Party (the erstwhile Jan Sangh that morphed into BJP).

It is to the credit of Vajpayee, Advani and others who showed remarkable steadfastness of purpose and persistence and belief in their ideology and painstakingly built the party. It has taken them more than three decades.

Kejriwal is a big draw. He has a face which every child and common man across the country easily recognises. Every one knows the party's philosophy.  The AAP is a national brand with instant recognition. That is no mean achievement by any standards.

The country needs a good opposition, now that Congress has faded and lost its reputation in the minds of the people and it is an opportune time for AAP to fill that vacuum. It needs to regroup, consolidate and rebuild for the long haul. Not committing to that will be failing the people of India whose hopes it had aroused and who still look up to it.

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