Arvind Kejriwal seems to have more ambitions than he can handle. He wanted to counter BJP in Punjab and Goa without actually governing in Delhi. Look at what he has done for Delhi in the last two years that he has been the chief minister. Two years after the party won 67 out of 70 seats in the assembly whitewash, the Sandhya Times took a survey on issues like corruption, women’s safety and Jan Lokpal Bill. The results of the Hindi publication’s survey, which had a sample size of 550, showed that 3 out of every 5 Delhiites are disappointed with the AAP government. It was good enough that the people of Delhi gave him a mandate basis the promises he made in 2015, that was his opportunity, instead of putting his best foot forward in Delhi, he neglected it and pursued expansion rather than consolidation.
The Punjab loss is also perpetuating the belief that AAP’s success in Delhi was a fluke, a one-time wonder, a bubble. If he had won in Punjab or Goa which seemed like a possibility, it would have been easy for AAP to emerge the third party to have a formidable presence in more than one state. He would have even made the regional parties nervous.
But that did not happen, perhaps because his work in Delhi did not speak for itself. If his work in Delhi was good, it would have been easier for him to win in other places. India now wants something different, more progressive and performance based party. ‘Kaam Bolta’ hai is the buzz word now. AAP’s best bet was Punjab, which had 117 assembly seats for contestation, where Kejriwal could have shown the party;s prowess in running a full-fledged state. It could also have ended his criticism of the conflict between centre and the Delhi government.
Had AAP won Punjab, Kejriwal would have wanted to fulfil the promises made in the state especially regarding the curbing of corruption, while also running the Delhi government. This also could have given him much leverage in the next Lok Sabha polls, if delivered. This is mainly because AAP was expected to be slowly emerging as quite the alternative to the done and dusted Congress, but Congress ended the dream run. Back in 2015, AAP had wiped out Congress in Delhi, where it recorded a historic win with 67 seats. The big win and the decline of Congress had given the party much hope.
Kejriwal was very serious about the Punjab elections and addressed around 100 rallies in the state. His cabinet ministers also moved across Punjab and highlighted the importance of many issues shrouding the government. It was AAP’s anti-corruption crusade which took on the Badals and Congress leaders led by Captain Amarinder Singh. But he lost there. The message being that he needs to devote more time to Delhi and show that he can actually govern. Even though he has started his groundwork in many other states, it is important for him to simultaneously concentrate on Delhi to prove that it did not happen by fluke.
Meanwhile, Kejriwal-led AAP has started ground work in many other states, like Rajasthan, Gujarat, Chhatisgarh and Madhya Pradesh. But it is hard to say how it will fare, as there seems to be no stopping Narendra Modi-led BJP as of now. The main reason for failure in Goa was that most of AAP’s top leaders were involved in Punjab, and this crunch will happen in other states too. If the party does not mend ways soon, it won’t be long that it will fade away. However, since Arvind Kejriwal has lost, his journey forward has become difficult.