New Delhi, Mar 13: A major setback for the Aam Aadmi Party came in the form of Punjab and Goa Assembly Elections 2017 and now, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party faces even a bigger test in about a month’s time. MCD Elections are due in April 2017 and the party’s performance in the two states raised questions over the party’s national ambitions.
While AAP was confident of winning over 100 seats in Punjab, it hoped to emerge as a major player in Goa as well. However, the AAP managed to win only 20 of the 117 seats in Punjab and emerged as the principal opposition party but failed to open its account in Goa.
Political analyst at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies Praveen Rai on Sunday said that the AAP and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal will now have to face a tough time “keeping his flock together even in Delhi” just ahead of the municipal corporation elections.
“My message to the AAP would be to get all the founding members, who were thrown out in one of the worst political coups, back to the party fold and then once again get back to work in Delhi,” Rai told IANS.
“Then, they may have a chance to once again do something in the coming state elections. At the moment, I see them going down big time.”
The Bharatiya Janata Party currently rules the east, west and north municipal corporations but before MCD elections, a pretty significant test for AAP would be bypoll to the Rajouri Garden assembly seat which will be held on April 9.
The seat currently lies vacant as AAP legislator Jarnail Singh, famous for hurling a shoe at then Union home minister P Chidambaram, quit in January to contest against Shiromani Akali Dal chief Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi in Punjab Assembly Elections. Singh lost to Badal by over 45,000 votes.Singh came third, losing to Badal by over 45,000 votes.
In the municipal by-elections, the AAP had managed to win only five out of 13 seats but had swept the Delhi assembly polls in 2015 winning 67 out of a total of 70 seats.
The most obvious question that now arises is will the loss in Goa and Punjab affect the political landscape? To this, senior AAP leader Kumar Vishwas said that AAP had registered a ‘historic victory’ in 2015 assembly polls despite a rout in 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
“We will go into the MCD elections with the good work done by the AAP government in the city. Be it opening mohalla clinics, reforms in education or providing drinking water, people of Delhi are seeing all this happening,” said Vishwas.
“In MCD polls, we will go to people showcasing the good work done by the Delhi government in the field of health, education, electricity and water. We will win the MCD polls,” Vishwas said.
However, a win in these two states would not only have changed the political landscape of the party but would also have given the party momentum to go to other states.
“Punjab is a classic case of bungling and high-handedness. The party failed to rope in former cricketer Navjot Singh Sidhu even after long negotiations. Not being able to get a Sikh face as the chief ministerial candidate backfired big time for them,” Praveen Rai said.
“The Punjab results have come ‘too” close to the municipal elections. It has hit the morale of the party cadre badly as the Punjab campaign on the ground was led by AAP MLAs and volunteers from Delhi. Saturday’s results will energise workers of both the BJP and the Congress. Can’t say the same for AAP,” a senior party leader said, reports HT.
“The way the AAP is functioning and governing Delhi — everything is under question. (Prospects of) winning Punjab had kept the party together. Now it will be difficult for Kejriwal to keep everything together.”
“Punjab loss is going to demoralise the AAP cadres and party workers. I don’t see them doing very well in municipal corporation polls in Delhi either,” said Rai.
“It is a setback for our volunteers and supporters. But we will talk to them and boost their morale. We know how to rise again after a fall,” Water Minister Kapil Mishra told IANS.
While BJP would aim to repeat its performance in local body polls in Maharashtra and Orissa, for Congress, it will be an opportunity to revive the party’s spirits.