After Lok Sabha drubbing, AAP faces an uphill task
AAP might argue that the voting pattern of the voters change in national and Assembly elections. But its performance graph has consistently come down since its historic mandate in 2015 Assembly elections.
From 32.90% vote share in 2014 Lok Sabha polls to just 18% in 2019, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi has something to worry about. The party had come second on every seat in the last general elections. But in this election, it has lost ground fast with three of its seven candidates losing their deposits in the state.
AAP might argue that the voting pattern of the voters change in national and Assembly elections. But its performance graph has consistently come down since its historic mandate in 2015 Assembly elections. It won 67 out of 70 seats with mammoth 54% vote share then.
In 2017 municipal corporations elections, party’s vote share came down to 26% and it couldn’t get a majority in any of the three municipal corporations. So if AAP’s logic of different-voting-pattern-in-different-elections is right, then why did it lose the MCD elections which are fought over local issues?
The trick is that AAP and Congress have overlapping support bases. Both parties have found supporters in the urban poor and lower middle class. In 2013, the Congress regime in both Centre and in the state was mired in corruption allegations. At the same time, the Jan Lokpal movement was being spearheaded by Anna Hazare and his associates, which included Arvind Kejriwal. Thus, when Kejriwal formed AAP, voters in Delhi saw it as an alternative to Congress.
Take this – the BJP’s vote share in 2013 and 2015 assembly elections was 33.07 and 32.19 respectively – roughly the same. This means that votes of the BJP remained intact whereas anti-BJP votes switched from Congress to AAP.
But this is 2019, a lot of water has flown under the bridge. The Congress has recovered from its disastrous performance and is recovering, at least in the national capital. The first sign was the 2017 municipal elections, where Congress bagged 21.28% of votes from 10% in 2015 assembly elections. Moreover, the failure of AAP-Congress alliance in Delhi has actually helped the later to blow away the cobwebs and project a united house. As a result, the party stood second in five of seven constituencies in the Lok Sabha elections with 22.46% votes, relegating AAP to the third position.
The task is cut out for Kejriwal. He has to not only bring back Modi-in-the-centre-but-Kejriwal-in-Delhi voters but also consolidate the anti-BJP votes for his party. Delhi will face assembly elections in the early winters of 2020, but the political temperature is expected to remain high throughout.