It’s work in progress for Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has completed three years on Wednesday as the party has managed to do good job in Delhi but more work needs to be done. Challenges lie ahead for the Kejriwal-led party which had won people’s mandate by winning 67 seats in Delhi assembly election after its 20 MLAs were disqualified for holding offices of profit. AAP was emerging as a serious contender to challenge BJP and Congress during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The party then was planning to expand its foothold across India. However, dismal performance in Punjab and Goa assembly polls had dealt a severe blow to the party’s national expansion plans. Thus, AAP now has become more of a Delhi-centric party. The outfit’s strained relations with centre, too is not helping its cause. AAP has often criticised the centre for creating hurdles in the functioning of the Delhi government.
The Maharashtra unit of AAP is unhappy with senior leaders of party and many of them have complained about the dictatorial attitude of Arvind Kejriwal. Many leaders of the state are upset with the Dilli gang of the party for its failure to offer a free hand in running the affairs of the party.
Former AAP leader Mayank Gandhi said that AAP has lost people’s support and the party has compromised on ethics and values. He also said, “The party was formed to fight against caste based politics, corruption but it has failed to do so. Therefore, today there is no difference between AAP and other political parties.”
He added that AAP has lost its moral character by comprising and the reason why the party was formed to provide an alternative to masses has lost now. “People became disappointed due to the expulsion of Yogendra Yadav and Prashant Bhushan. In Delhi, the party had secured 54 per cent votes in 2015 which has declined to 26 per cent in 2017. In Punjab, the party had expected to perform better but unfortunately they became the main opposition.”
As Arvind Kejriwal too remains inaccessible to grassroot workers of the party, they are miffed with him. In such a scenario, how will the party plan to expand its foothold in other parts of the country?
Political Analyst and AAP Founder Ravi Srivastava lauded AAP’s performance and said that the party has achieved a lot but plenty of work needs to be done. He said, “AAP had done a remarkable job in providing education, water, power to people. The party had provided good budgetary allocation for education.”
He added that the party has made a remarkable job by opening 164 Mohalla Clinics and land has already been earmarked for another 685. “Citizens have access to these clinics at every 1.5 km. Delhi government has passed Jan Lokpal Bill in the assembly but the centre has not cleared it yet.”
When asked about the AAP’s failure to become a pan-India party he said, “AAP is following transparent funding process and many times they are unable to mobilise funds. They have won some seats in Rajasthan and local seats in Uttar Pradesh. Kejriwal is focusing more on Delhi, hence, AAP has minimal presence in small pockets of other states. It’s a drawback for the party that it could not develop a strong regional unit.”
Since AAP lacks strong organisation base in states, hence, the party has planned to rethink its election strategy. The outfit will only contest election in those areas where it has strong volunteer support. AAP lacks strong regional leaders to take the party forward.
AAP National Executive Member Preeti Sharma Menon said that AAP is the fastest growing party in India and it is merely five years old. She said, “It is already running the government in Delhi and is in opposition in Punjab. The party is up against traditional politics which is a mix of huge nexus of black money and power in the system. AAP has performed well in Delhi as no other government has built 8000 new classrooms within a span of three years.”
When asked about the party’s failure to establish itself as a national party she replied, “In 2014 we tried to overreach ourselves and attempted to contest election across the country and party was not ready for it. After contesting Delhi, Goa and Punjab election, the party realised that to become successful it needs organisational support at the grassroot level.”