The disappointment was evident—the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had not won a single seat in Delhi—but there was also the satisfaction that a debutant party had won four seats in difficult state like Punjab despite the overwhelming saffron wave that had reduced several parties to a cipher and even the ruling Congress to its lowest ever tally. Party was also happy with increased vote share in the national capital.
But AAP leaders clearly hinted at changes in party’s important bodies following emergence of new leaders. Its leaders warned against writing off AAP stating that they are here to stay and instead will grow only stronger. The one and a half year old party was happy that they could at least make a debut in 16th Lok Sabha even when tallies of several parties like Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK), Rashtriya Lok Dal and National Conference’s came down to zero. There were no flying Jhadus (brooms) or wild celebrations like December 2013 Delhi elections but diehard volunteers were there to debate the results. Though AAP got no seats in Delhi, its vote share increased from 28-29% in December 2013 to 33% now.
In Punjab, party got vote share of around 25 % and won four seats. AAP’s senior leaders and founder members like Prashant Bhushan and Yogendra Yadav admitted that there are a “lot of lessons for them to learn” from Lok Sabha elections and will trigger several changes in the party. “We will have to review performance of people in different states, different committees and individuals. A lot of new people came to party and became candidates who were not there earlier. We perhaps need to include, many of them, in our executive bodies,” senior AAP leaders and founding member Prashant Bhushan told dna while replying to a query about re-organisaiton and restructuring of party.
Asked if there will be more inner party democracy and inner party elections, Bhushan said, “We have not been able to properly compile complete lists of our members and active volunteers. Obviously and hopefully (we will have inner party elections) but for that we first need to have proper list of members and active volunteers.”
Both Bhushan and AAP’s political ideologue Yogendra Yadav, however, defended decision to go national and fight over 400 seats stating that it was important to register a national presence. They also stressed that though Delhi results were disappointing there are several, “positive takeaways” from results for AAP. “It was our first national election. There are both positive and negative signs and several lessons for us to learn. Yes, Delhi results are disappointing, but good part is that our vote share in Delhi has increased. But yes not getting even a single seat is a setback. We had high hopes from Banaras (Varanasi) as it was first time that big leader of a party (Kejriwal) fought against big leader of another (Modi),” said Yogendra Yadav while addressing a conference after the results.
“But on a bigger picture—AAP has made a breakthrough in second state. Our performance in Punjab, where we won 4 seats with around 25% of votes, is big news. Punjab will also be three polar. In this election, we have registered our performance across country,” said Yadav. “We introduced new leaders who are associated with people movements across country. Trends show around 1.5 crores people have voted for us. Our resolve is that in next five years, we will be a major opposition. But we agree that there is lot to learn for us. AAP is party of future and we will move forward for becoming a national alternative,” Yadav added.
Yadav said they would fight upcoming state assembly polls in Haryana and Maharashtra too. AAP’s Raghav Chadha, who was involved in selection of AAP candidates, said: “In Punjab we have got a second breakthrough and that is good for us. Our party is one-and-a-half-year-old. In 1984, BJP had started with two seats, when BSP fought for first time it had got vote share of two per cent. We are ahead of that. In conclusion, we are a one and half year old party and it is our first election. So, whatever we get is bonus for us.”