This Article is From May 30, 2014

I Lost the Election to the Modi Tsunami

(Mayank Gandhi is a member of the National Executive of the Aam Aadmi Party. He lost the Lok Sabha election from the Mumbai North west constituency.)

After a good campaign, where we did around 2 lakh door-to-door visits with 70% approval, large rallies with people on the streets indicating their approval, meetings with various groups etc, I was reasonably confident. But, on the polling day when I saw long queues of people without too many people recognizing me, I realised that my chances were gone. On counting day, as I went from polling booth counting stations to another and saw my dismal votes, the extent of the loss became obvious. I left the counting station to go home and look at the national scene. It was the same, all over. The Modi tsunami had taken over.

So, what went wrong?

The signals were obvious when, even during the Delhi campaign, more than 40% of AAP voters said that they would vote for Modi for PM. So, it wasn't a typical Lok Sabha voting pattern with people selecting their MP. This was a vote for or against Modi as PM. With the huge and brilliant marketing and advertising campaign, the only person that was in the fray was Narendra Modi. A corruption-laden UPA with an indecisive leader was irrelevant. So, crores voted for a decisive PM, not for the BJP, not for its allies nor for its candidates.

The candidates did not matter, a lamppost could have won in that atmosphere. All those who did not want Modi as a Prime Minister, then chose the second alternative - in most cases, the Congress. Thus the votes for Congress were negative votes and the votes for BJP were positive ones.

People liked AAP. Wherever I went, people said that AAP is necessary for the nation. Voters felt that the values that AAP stood for - truth, honesty, exposure of corrupt, Swaraj - is relevant and will have its time. But for this once, it was time for decisive governance. Voters felt that AAP was given a chance in Delhi and it quit in 49 days and therefore it was not worth trusting for a solid, national government. Only the loyal AAP followers voted for them.

Therefore, instead of self-flagellation, AAP should hold its poise. There is an obvious need to reflect, introspect and reorganize. But absolutely no need to panic. We have increased our vote share in Delhi, established a strong presence in Punjab and got over a crore of votes across the nation. In my constituency, from a volunteer base of 500, we have over 51,000 voters that have voted for us. Tens of thousands did not vote AAP but voted this time for a decisive PM. Next time will be different.

India today, is in floating in a cloud of high expectations, built by dishonest money, advertising and marketing. As days go on, the crony capitalism, the high gas prices and cost of living, the antics of the unleashed BJP goons, will hit headlines. Slowly, but surely, the reality will set in. AAP needs to get its act together to take the opposition space from a completely discredited and leaderless Congress. While we need to expose corruption and communalism, AAP will need to send maximum number of people inside assemblies, corporations, zilla parishads and show results. It is a long haul.

Honesty and integrity cannot lose. It is a matter of time.

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