The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has decided not to contest the upcoming elections in Haryana. Just a few months ago, after its sensational debut in Delhi, Haryana was touted as the most fertile ground for AAP to increase its voter base. But post the drubbing in the general elections, all the hype around the party seems to have disappeared. AAP seems to be in some sort of a disarray and unsure of its future goals. While Kejriwal and his loyalists want to stick to Delhi, others are not on the same page regarding this issue. The decision of pulling out from the Haryana Assembly election has not gone down very well with party leaders in the state.
From the beginning, AAP's strategy has not only baffled political pundits but also their supporters and leaders. When the party did manage to form a government in Delhi, it relinquished power within 49 days. Then, a party of merely one year suddenly decided to contest 432 seats in the Lok Sabha elections. AAP expectedly came up cropper in most seats and won only 4 seats. Their candidates could save their deposit in barely 19 seats. When common political sense suggested that they should have concentrated in Delhi and its catchment areas, Arvind Kejriwal perhaps swayed by media limelight decided to go pan India. Now after the crushing defeat in the elections, Kejriwal has decided to go back to the drawing board. In a meeting with party leaders, Kejriwal said that they would not contest in Haryana and Maharashtra and would concentrate on Delhi for the time being. Now the question being raised is whether Kejriwal is over compensating for his past misjudgment.
There is a huge amount of anti-incumbency against the Hooda government in election-bound Haryana. The BJP-HJC (Haryana Janhit Congress) alliance did very well in the general elections but already cracks have appeared in the alliance. This gives AAP a chance to emerge as a potent third or second force in the state with the INLD (Indian National Lok Dal) in terminal decline. Party ideologue Yogendra Yadav who is in charge of the Haryana unit hasn't minced his word in the issue. He has expressed his disappointment saying that 95% of the volunteers were in favour of contesting the polls but the state unit decided against it. He said that AAP couldn't afford to leave the ground after joining the election fray.
For now, Kejriwal is looking to concentrate on Delhi. But it is highly unlikely that the capital will elect AAP to power after overwhelmingly choosing BJP in the general elections. So this could probably be the time for dividing resources into other states where AAP has some base support. For saving his own turf, Kejriwal can't afford to become short-sighted as it can permanently damage AAP's prospects.
The donations for AAP also seem to have dried considerably. In the last fortnight, the maximum that the party has received as donation on a single day is barely Rs 24,552. The party desperately needs to reinvent itself. It can't simply be an umbrella for everyone outraging against corruption, with conflicting ideas on every issue under the sun. In Haryana, it needs to take into account the complex caste equation of the state and build the organisation accordingly. Just as the party has made some strides in Punjab by highlighting the drug menace amongst the youth in the state, sustained hard work away from spotlight of the media is needed to rejuvenate the party. Often, elections are a sure shot way of putting basic structures of an organisation in place. By refusing to contest in Haryana, the Aam Aadmi Party has surely missed a step, which may prove to be costly in the future.