One of the AAP’s founding father Prashant Bhushan dissects AAP’s performance in an interaction with dna after the results were declared. He discussed range of issues including the party's decision to contest 400 seats, going all out to fight for Varanasi, AAP’s future, what went wrong in this elections, disappointments, performance review and a message to the BJP and Narendra Modi.
Q) What are the key take away for AAP from this elections?
A) People tend to vote for those parties which they see or perceive as being viable, winnable and that perception is created to a very large extend by advertising propaganda which is money based that is why money plays a huge role. The BJP off course ran a very professional advertising campaign and well design campaign which worked very well. The other take away is that sometime our own perception can be quite wrong about where we stand in elections and my own perception was not correct. I was expecting we would get at least 10 seats and 6 % in five-six states and would become a national party. But we fared worse than that.
Q) What went wrong?
A) There was a Modi wave and perception could not be made about AAP expect in Delhi and Punjab that we could win. In Delhi, we had won assembly election so perception was we could win and in Punjab for some other reason and one reason being SIT on 1984 anti-Sikh riots perception was made and we got 25 percent vote. But in other state perception could be made. The whole thing that BJP won shows that advertising blitz show of BJP was unprecedented. The Narendra Modi myth will be exposed by the next elections.
Q) Why did your party fail miserably in other states. Was whole focus on Varanasi?
A) Another failure was that our party’s failure that party organisation in many states was not up to the mark and in some states even our candidate selection was not up to the mark. Focus on Varanasi was correct as to challenge the myth making against Modi it was important to fight. Having fought against Modi we had to concentrate on Varanasi and it was correct from that point.
Q) What went wrong in Amethi?
A) People do not vote because you are there, but vote if they believe you are a viable, winnable and credible challenge and people normally don’t vote in isolated constituency for isolated candidates and they vote for a party that would form the government. Amethi has been Gandhi family constituency for a long time and that have advantage and somehow AAP was not able to build that perception, Kumar Vishwas was not able to build that AAP was a viable, winnable party. This perception was somewhat created in Varanasi.
Q) What is your biggest disappointment?
A) This wave and whole propaganda and advertising seems to have worked and it shows to what extent money play a role.
Q) Did Arvind Kerjiwal stepping down as the chief minister of New Delhi affect AAP's prospects?
A) We should have taken people’s view and the decision to step down was taken hastily.
Q) Will you review the performance of your party?
A) 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.
Q) Will there be more inner party elections or democracy?
A) 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. We need to set up a system of inner party grievance redressal also.
Q) There has been an accusation that only handful of people take decision in party. What do you say about that because you are also part of PAC?
A) Yes, I mean that is partly true that decisions were taken by and large by PAC (political affairs committee – nine members). Ideally we need to broadbase our PAC … main decision making body should be more broad based. We should have quicker way of consulting other bodies like national executive etc.
Q) Do you think the decision of going national and fighting over 400 seats was wrong?
A) It was a need and necessity for the party to expand quickly. We cannot afford to go slow because it is a very serious crisis. It needs to be urgently tackled. That is why it is necessity of time.
Q) Do you think attacking Adani and Ambani was a bad move?
A) No it did not backfire. Of course, AAP will continue to attack Ambani, Adani and crony capitalism. At least we were able to highlight it and make it a major issue.
Q) Where do you see AAP in five years from now?
A) I think in 5 years AAP will be seen as the main opposition party to the BJP –both politically and electorally.
Q) Any message to BJP or Narendra Modi.
A) Now all their claims and promises will be tested. Their first test will be on the gas price issue, let us see whether they will side with Ambani or the people of the country.