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AAP in defiant mode after being decimated in MCD polls – is there a way forward for Arvind Kejriwal?
One of my friends was very frustrated at AAP's decimation in the recent MCD elections of Delhi. His concern was not that AAP had been rejected by the people of Delhi but rather on the defiant mode of the party's leaders.

The results of MCD elections almost matched with various exit poll forecasts. AAP leaders again started blaming the EVMs for the exit poll predictions going against them despite knowing very well that exit polls have no relation with EVMs or their tampering. But, as for AAP, if they win, then everything is alright, but if they lose, then there has to be something fishy about it!

I normally don't write about the Aam Aadmi Party or its leaders because of their abysmally negative politics. However, my friend asked, is there a way forward for AAP? My answer was, yes, there is always a way forward to regain lost ground, provided one has the intent to learn from the mistakes. We will discuss the way forward for AAP but before that, let's go through the story of the now four-year-old Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

In 2013, the people of Delhi decided to reject Congress due to its dubious past of rampant corruption. However, they were in dilemma on whom to choose. Should they chose the equally inefficient Delhi BJP or vote for the newly formed Aam Aadmi Party? This dilemma clearly became visible in the verdict of 2013 Delhi Assembly election where BJP got 32, AAP got 28 and Congress got 8 seats.

Later, AAP formed a coalition government along with the Congress. But, the ambitious Arvind Kejriwal resigned from the CM's post to contest for Parliament in the 2014 general election, only to lose badly against Narendra Modi from Varanasi constituency. However, he came back, apologised to the people of Delhi and begged them to give him another chance. The people too felt that since Kejriwal was a new comer, he was naturally inclined to commit mistakes, and hence deserved another chance. Thus, they voted for AAP, this time giving the party a land slide victory with 67 out of 70 Assembly seats in Delhi in 2015, hoping that he would serve them well.

But due to this unbelievably large mandate, Kejriwal and co became arrogant. They started dreaming of ruling the entire country. They harboured ambitious plans of expanding their voter-base in Punjab, Goa and Gujarat. Here, they forget their promises made to Delhiites and instead of doing developmental work, its senior leaders including party chief Arvind Kejriwal started confronting the Central government, LG and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Not a day has gone by in the last two years when AAP leaders have not indulged in sledging Modi with newer and dirtier adjectives on various media platforms.

Arvind Kjriwal despite being the Chief Minister didn't keep any portfolio and left Delhi at the mercy of Deputy CM Manish Sisodia. Kejriwal was either seen campaigning in Punjab and Goa or indulging in blame games through shoot and scoot policy. The people of Delhi naturally felt betrayed.

They were outrightly rejected in Punjab and Goa only because of their misgovernance in Delhi. The people of Punjab choose Congress headed by Captain Amarinder Singh over AAP whereas the people of Goa remained skeptical over deciding who was less evil, the BJP or Congress. But at the same time, they knew for sure that AAP was a party not even worth considering.

In Delhi MCD election, BJP was brilliant in changing its all incumbent councillors, hence, totally negating the anti-incumbency factor. The point to be noted here is that anti-incumbency always affects individual performance. Thus, by replacing old candidates with fresh ones, BJP smartly brushed aside anti-incumbency as well as the inefficiencies and corruption of former BJP councillors.

The public of Delhi having no faith in AAP, either didn't vote at all or voted for the Congress as they found India's Grand Old Party better than AAP. Whenever people decide to change a government, generally there's a huge voter turnout. The low voter turnout of around 58 per cent this time in the 2017 MCD election suggested that Delhi people did not find AAP as a suitable alternative.

During campaigning AAP said that it was the BJP-led MCD which was responsible for the ever-rising mountains of trash. But, in reality, everyone knows that it was due to AAP government's non-release of salary to cleaning staff that had resulted in a strike and accumulation of garbage all over Delhi.

Arvind Kejriwal, in an intimidating manner, had warned Delhiites just days before the election that if they chose BJP then they would be responsible for the outbreak of dengue and chikungunya in Delhi. He conveniently forgot the fact that when last year, there had been a crisis situation in Delhi due to outbreak of dengue and chikungunya, he was in Bangalore, Sisodia was in Europe and the health minister Kapil Mishra was in Punjab for the election campaign. The public is neither fool nor forgetful.

I wouldn't say that it's BJP's victory, rather I would say that it's AAP's loss as their vote percentage dropped even below their vote share of 2013 Assembly election. So, is it a referendum against the Kejriwal government? I would say, yes, because Delhi comprises mostly of these three municipal corporations and some villages. Thus, a decimation in this election is indicating that Delhiites are dejected with AAP and its negative politics.

But, is there a way out for Arvind Kejriwal? Certainly there is a way out if they would be willing to follow. Firstly, they need to give up their defiant mode of politics. Kejriwal needs to step down from the CM's post. Manish Sisodia should be elevated as the Chief Minister of Delhi and Kejriwal should assume responsibility as the party head and engage himself thoroughly in rebuilding the party cadres through positive politics. Blaming everyone especially Narendra Modi is not going to help him or his party. Narendra Modi is a hugely popular political figure and became the Prime Minister after remaining the CM of Gujarat for 14 years.

Kejriwal needs to shun this opportunistic opposition politics. He shouldn't align with parties like TMC, RJD, and BSP or even Left. He should create a new narrative of politics different from this traditional one. Shoot and scoot politics only damages your credibility. Learn to praise good things and for bad things, criticise constructively. Bring back the founding members of the party and create inter-party democracy. If the founding members of AAP don't believe in Kejriwal's leadership then how will other people trust him?

Those who make amends after deep introspection, start gaining ground. But those who live in denial are destined to end up in oblivion. If AAP doesn't do corrective measures, I'm sure after some five years or so you will hear that once upon a time, there was a party called AAP…. I think my message is loud and clear.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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