What next for Arvind Kejriwal and the newest national party, the AAP?

What next for Arvind Kejriwal and the newest national party, the AAP?

The AAP’s attainment of national party status may not have been a groundbreaking feat, but it is crucial to examine the party's future potential under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal

Sayantan GhoshUpdated: Tuesday, April 25, 2023, 10:42 PM IST
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Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal | PTI Photo

The newest political party in the country is the Aam Aadmi Party, run by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Many traditional parties, like the Nationalist Congress Party, the Trinamool Congress, and others, lost their national party credentials. The rise of the AAP and Kejriwal is indeed remarkable. The AAP’s attainment of national party status may not have been a groundbreaking feat, but it is crucial to examine the party's future potential under the leadership of Arvind Kejriwal. Kejriwal’s national influence is contingent upon his party’s performance in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. The ability to secure a substantial number of Lok Sabha seats is crucial for any political party, regardless of its national status.

The AAP will have a significant political impact in only 20 constituencies during the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. According to the statement, the upcoming election will only hold significance for the party in the seven seats of Delhi and the 13 seats of Punjab. The AAP has yet to secure a victory in any Lok Sabha election in Delhi. Despite this, the party’s repeated targeting of PM Modi through personal attacks may not be enough to sway voters in their favour. The Jalandhar by-election is expected to reveal the current state of the AAP in Punjab. Based on current scenario the party's ability to make a significant impact hinges on winning a minimum of 10 seats.

Over the course of the last decade, the AAP’s national convenor, Arvind Kejriwal, has undergone significant changes in his political beliefs. The individual commenced his political journey by challenging prominent opposition figures, including Lalu Prasad Yadav and Sharad Pawar. Today, he is attempting to form alliances with various opposition political parties, notably the Congress. Kejriwal’s political career began with a focus on combating corruption within the Congress party. However, he has now shown interest in aligning himself with a coalition where Congress will hold a prominent position, despite his previous stance.

In a similar vein to Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Kejriwal and his party have adopted a strategy of relying heavily on personal attacks against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Ever since assuming office as the chief minister, Kejriwal has consistently directed his criticism towards Modi on a personal level. He contested the Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi, challenging Modi. Kejriwal’s political agenda today seems to be focused on playing a significant role on the national stage. His ambition is the driving force behind most of the friendships he is forming. As the Lok Sabha elections draw near, it may be time for Kejriwal to reconsider his approach towards Modi. While personal attacks may not prove fruitful in terms of gaining votes, they could potentially harm Kejriwal’s party's chances in the upcoming elections. Over the last decade, the Aam Aadmi Party has been unable to secure a Lok Sabha seat from Delhi, despite having control over the assembly in the state.

Kejriwal’s primary objective, like several other opposition leaders, is to become prime minister. The AAP’s current priority as a national party is to effectively combat the Bharatiya Janata Party at the central level while also acknowledging the importance of a more localised approach. Currently, a major obstacle for the AAP is the absence of any Lok Sabha MP within their ranks. The political situation in Delhi, where the ruling party holds significant power, is complex due to the lack of support for Kejriwal among the city's residents during the Lok Sabha elections. The state of the party is not favourable, as Punjab has been plagued by rising terrorism, separatist movements, incidents of violence and other related issues.

It appears that Kejriwal’s chances of making a significant impact in the upcoming Lok Sabha elections by contesting independently in Gujarat and Goa are slim. Tensions are brewing within the AAP in Gujarat. There are reports that some Surat corporators from a particular party have switched their allegiance to the BJP. Furthermore, there are speculations that a few MLAs from the same party may also follow suit. The AAP is reportedly facing significant pressure from central agencies. The party’s former deputy chief minister and second-in-command, Manish Sisodia, has been incarcerated. Kejriwal, the party’s leader, has already undergone questioning by the CBI. The party believes that it will be unable to confront the BJP without playing a significant role in the central government.

Meanwhile, Kejriwal is currently in full offensive mode against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The AAP has launched a campaign against Modi regarding his educational qualifications. Arvind Kejriwal’s fixation with Narendra Modi is a well-known fact. However, in light of Sisodia’s arrest and the ongoing allegations of corruption against the AAP, Kejriwal has resorted to his tried-and-tested tactic of framing the AAP’s politics as a battle between himself and Modi. Following the triumph of the Bharatiya Janata Party in 2014, several other politicians have attempted to replicate this feat. Congress leader Rahul Gandhi stands out as the prime example in this regard. Since 2014, politicians who have resorted to personal attacks against Modi have not seen any electoral success, despite their efforts.

The question that arises is why Kejriwal is directing his focus towards the PM on a personal level. According to AAP leaders, there is a growing belief that Kejriwal has been labeled as the BJP’s B team. By directly confronting Modi, the AAP national convenor aims to emphasise that his primary opposition is the BJP rather than the Congress or other Opposition parties. According to some beliefs, he is attempting to portray himself as a leader with the necessary stature to challenge the prime minister.

Kejriwal must prioritise effectively to address the current situation. The party’s anti-corruption stance appears to have been compromised, with multiple accusations levelled against its top leaders. It appears that Kejriwal’s political strategies are losing relevance due to his reliance on populist and inconsistent ideological positions. It is imperative for Kejriwal to introduce fresh ideas to his political agenda. The current credibility of the party is being called into question, and Kejriwal’s ability to play a significant national role is hindered by a lack of transparency even within the Opposition.

The writer is a doctoral research scholar in media and politics. He tweets @sayantan_gh. Views expressed in this article are personal

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