AAP Will be Judged on How it Fights Back After Rajouri Rout
The west Delhi seat with a large Sikh population was won comfortably by AAP’s Jarnail Singh by well over 10,000 votes.
File image of Arvind Kejriwal. (Image: Getty Images)
New Delhi: Fighting elections is a fine art. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea. To win, one must not only get votes. Sometimes, it is equally important to confuse the constituency of the adversary.
In the 2014 Maharashtra Assembly polls, the Peasants and Workers Party candidate from Alibaug, Meenakshi Patil, had to contend with more than half a dozen namesakes fielded by her rivals to confuse voters.
In 2015, voters in Delhi's Rajouri Garden had to choose from long list of 14 candidates, including three Jarnail Singhs. The electorate, however, was clear in its choice of the candidate and the party.
The west Delhi seat with a large Sikh population was won comfortably by AAP’s Jarnail Singh by well over 10,000 votes. BJP had left the seat for its alliance partner Shiromani Akali Dal whose candidate stood a distant second with around 38% votes.
Interestingly, the same Jarnail Singh was chosen by AAP to take on Parkash Singh Badal from Lambi in the recently concluded Punjab Assembly polls. Jarnail could have contested the Punjab polls without resigning from the Delhi Assembly.
But then AAP, unconventional as it is in its politics, made Jarnail quit and focus on Lambi. It was straight out of Kejriwal’s debut script for 2013 elections; when he challenged and trounced the then CM Sheila Dikshit in New Delhi.
But then those were the heady days. AAP was surging ahead in its attempt to occupy every inch of space Congress would vacate—from Punjab to Goa. Gujarat was perhaps the next destination.
Punjab would have given that necessary impetus to take it to another level. However, the electorate had considerations other than AAP’s national ambitions. When votes were finally counted on March 11, not only did both Parkash Singh Badal and his son Sukhbir win, AAP got less votes than the BJP-SAD combine. Though it emerged as the main opposition party in the Punjab Assembly.
There is another sub-text to the Rajouri Garden by-election. Congress that registered a sharp dip in its vote share — over 18% — in 2015 seems to have regained some of the lost ground. The party repeated its nominee, and the same candidate who polled less than 15,000 votes last time emerged as the main challenger to the BJP, pushing the AAP candidate to a poor third.
Political parties and leaders are tested in the times of adversity. Amarinder Singh who lost two consecutive polls bounced back to power this year. CP Joshi lost his Assembly polls by just one vote in 2008 to take oath as Union minister in a few months’ time.
It is in this hour of adversity that AAP and its leadership will be tested. Win or lose, public expects its representatives—current and former—to be there always.
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