The Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh election results announced on Thursday have come as a disappointment to the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party. A far cry from the tall claims made during the election campaigns, the AAP could not draw enough voters and had to settle for 5 seats in its debut elections in Gujarat. The story was no different in Himachal Pradesh where the party drew a blank.
Contrary to how abysmal things may appear, AAP has a lot to look forward to and holds its head high. A decade-old party, AAP failed to make a phenomenal victory but did manage to leave an impression despite its single-digit tally in the state, the most prominent being the decimation of the Congress.
The damage to Congress
The Congress barely managed to win 17 seats in the state, down from its tally of 77 in the 2017 elections. This was also the worst performance of the Congress in Gujarat. And AAP’s entry is surely one of the most apparent reasons behind this decimation of the Congress.
The AAP secured around 13 per cent of the vote share in Gujarat, while the Congress plunged from 42 per cent in 2017 to 27 per cent. The BJP, on the other hand, bagged 53 per cent of the vote share, marginally up from last time.
The vote share, and five seats helped AAP earn the ‘national’ party tag, making it the ninth political outfit in the country to enjoy the status. The AAP required 6 per cent votes and two seats in Gujarat to become a national party.
Clawing at its heels
During his campaign, Kejriwal raised local issues and showcased the Delhi-Punjab model of governance. AAP succeeded at its outreach in the rural belt where Congress used to perform better. It raised most of the issues which the Congress had promised in its ‘Aath Vachan’.
Entering states where the BJP and Congress are locked in a two-way battle has been part of AAP’s political stratagem. The idea, believe experts, is to use the vulnerability of the Congress to its advantage in a bid to gradually replace it as the primary opposition party. Gujarat is one such clear-cut case.
While AAP took a dig at the Gujarat model of the BJP, it made it a point to target the core Congress vote bank through offerings such as free electricity, water and education. AAP performed well in the Saurashtra-Kutch region and rural areas with a sizable tribal population.
AAP has announced its arrival
Winning 5 seats, AAP has dared to breach the impregnable fortress of Modi and Shah in Gujarat. Ten years ago, the entry of AAP into politics was accorded as a political accident. But now the Delhi model of governance has become a talking point across the nation.
In Gujarat, AAP got an opportunity to replicate its Punjab experiment. In its first attempt in Punjab, AAP had won 20 seats and won a majority in the next attempt. The party bagged two seats in Goa in 2022 and became a national party in Gujarat.
In his video address after the results were declared, Kejriwal said the votes it has secured in Gujarat have helped AAP attain the status of a national party. He thanked the people of Gujarat for helping his party breach the BJP’s Gujarat “fortress”, and hoped to win the state in the next assembly elections.
With its government in two states and one Corporation under its fold, AAP now ranks third after the BJP and Congress, leaving behind all other regional parties.