AAP press conference

At the very outset let me, as an election analyst, stick my neck out and make a simple, but serious prediction for 2014 – as things stand today, in the 16th Lok Sabha AAP is likely to have zero or near zero MPs! Why near zero? Because there is a possibility of a freak result here or there due to some local factors, but otherwise AAP as a viable electoral platform is dead on arrival for all practical purposes.

From the euphoria of December 8th to being a virtual non-entity in under 6 months is another feather in Kejriwal’s already space-crunched cap. It is also perhaps indicative of Kejriwal as a political phenomenon which signifies everything that is wrong with the young of today who are in a tearing hurry to jump from ladder to ladder in their lives filled with a kaleidoscope of ambitions without an actual goal.

At every corner of his political journey, Kejriwal seems to discover newer ambitions by simply discarding the path he has hitherto taken. He began his innings as a problem solver to help out citizens’ tax woes, but soon discovered an ambition in the form of RTI… and once RTI went beyond its sell by date, he started a movement against corruption. His big political stint was initiated with the Janlokpal and the Anna Hazare movement against UPA corruption which really created Kejriwal the protestor. He soon pawned the entire anti-corruption people’s movement, lock-stock-and-barrel, including Anna Hazare himself, for his newest ambition – the small city state of Delhi. No sooner did the Delhites bestow their goodwill on this eternal protestor did he started seeing visions of another ambition – the larger nation state of India.

Unfortunately for Kejriwal, he has pawned too much goodwill by now and he can no longer afford the luxury of another ambition. 49 day protest movements may make good TRPs, but definitely won’t give you electoral traction, for at the end of the day voters expect governance from their leaders and not just Tamasha in the TV studios. Like all Ponzi schemes, this loop had to end somewhere, thus it is going to end on May 16th. It is indeed a sad end to a political movement that held tremendous promise but became a prisoner of one man’s ambitions.

The fact that AAP as an electoral entity is failing should not shock us, what should shock us is the intellectual drought of Dilli editorial class who were clinging on to AAP as a last possible remedy to their incurable ailment of Modi-phobia. One of the most oft repeated phrases that we heard in the aftermath of December 8th last year was this – “now that AAP has won in Delhi, it will win even bigger, because now voters know that their vote won’t be wasted, for AAP is a serious contender”. In my 20+ years of tryst with electoral politics, I have never heard such political sophistry; mind you, I have heard a lot of tripe in those two decades.

Was AAP a serious electoral entity ever? The answer to that question is a straight NO. Yet, TV studios, newspaper editorials and even poll surveys tried their best to manufacture an AAP electoral surge by building upon a miniscule performance in a city-state that has absolutely no idea which way India is going. Such falsehood couldn’t have sustained itself for long, so we now have latest set of poll surveys showing how AAP could never travel beyond Dilli TV studios despite all efforts of so many TV anchors and “political experts”.

Even in geographies surrounding Delhi, where AAP was supposed to have some pockets of influence, the party is declining by leaps and bounds (except for Punjab where its seems to be currently holding on), so much so that AAP is today an absolute non-entity in states like Haryana and Uttar Pradesh. One of the classic mistakes that many psephologists are making is that they seem to be blissfully unaware of the fact that urban, more media savvy voters tend to get over-exposed during poll surveys, a factor that is always added as a caveat when it comes to BJP’s performance in surveys. What is more likely to happen is that AAP may get almost half of the votes that it is being projected to take, because AAP is an exclusively urban phenomenon, unlike even say the BJP which has organizational strength in the rural areas.

What could possibly be the biggest stunner on May 16th is AAP’s non-performance in its stronghold, Delhi. Most of the political pundits are either unaware or are trying to turn a blind eye to the anger of average Delhi voter towards AAP and Kejriwal who have ditched them in 49 days and have moved to a new hunting ground on the banks of the Ganges. Now the secular-socialist evangelists on TV studios have a pet new theme to stick to, that AAP may lose the Lok Sabha polls but will again win Delhi assembly elections, little realizing that another disaster awaits them. Let me end this piece with another prediction of sorts – We won’t hear much about AAP and Kejriwal after May 16th 2014, for the kaleidoscope of ambitions is now a broken mirror.

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Praveen Patil

Praveen Patil

Analyst of Indian electoral politics and associated economics with a right-of-centre perspective.