After facing a drubbing defeat in the state, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is looking in future with a curtailed ambition but definitive strategy that will bring its voice at par with that of a ruling party. Despite polling just about 2.2% votes, it looks to win the place of the main opposition party.
Focusing on putting up candidates who can win seats will be the strategy in the upcoming elections. Excerpts from the interview with Mayank Gandhi, executive committee member and AAP's face in city.
You said lot of people considered you as an option but change their decision at the last minute. How will you ensure that party gets support in future?
I think this was a unique situation because there was a tsunami or Modi wave. It will not be there all the time. There were a lot of people who said that we were good people but went for him (Modi). It is not going to be the case if Munde (or someone else) will be the CM candidate. Around Rs25,000 crore were spent on marketing and branding of one person. Every time such branding and advertising for creating one individual is not possible.
Are you looking to contest the assembly elections due in Maharashtra? Will you be contesting all seats again?
We are looking to contest them very strongly. Number of candidates fighting elections will be decided by our election committee.
A reason why candidate lists was announced late by AAP was you did not get candidates. How will it be different now?
This issue will be there because we have high standards of picking a candidate. We will begin soon and we will start asking for applications. We will from a search committee and start the process soon. We have built an organisation and will be finding candidates.
There were accusations of "bossism" and central committee putting up pre-decided candidates.
We have open and transparent process. There are multiple claimants to a seat. People may feel or say like that (if they do not get a seat).
Post results, AAP leaders said that the country will not have an effective opposition. Will acquiring opposition seat be the target in state elections?
This time we look to be the main opposition party. We are still a new party and we do not have the kind of presence in the parts of the state to win the state. People who wanted to stop Modi voted for Congress. These were negative votes they got. We got positive votes on the other hand as people wanted to vote for us. The Congress-NCP is decimated. We will like to take up the space of principal opposition party in the state. The honeymoon period would last and it may bring the Sena-BJP to power. In that scenario, we would like to be the opposition party by having more seats than Congress and NCP.
Critics say that AAP's lack of organisational structure and social connect like traditional parties, not making inroads lead to its poor performance. Your say?
That would have been true if we would have fared poorly in only rural area. But we did not get votes even in the urban areas. The same goes true for Delhi elections too. We did not even get enough votes. Votes for Modi finally changed everything. It was a PM election rather than an MP election. Since we put candidates in all parts of the state, we have some organisational structure. We will motivate people in the elections. We did not have organisation and have built one by putting candidates across state.
Candidates not being local was one of the reason why people did not connect. People were angry at Anjali Damania not being local.
Our strategy was that wherever there are corrupt or communal people, we will go after them. We will stop people like Gadkari and Rahul. At that time we had a better strategy. Arvind went and fought Varanasi. The target was to stop Modi. Had Kejriwal and Kumar Vishwas fought from Delhi, we would have won two seats. In this election, we will try to get as many local candidates who can win elections. Winnability will be a factor that will be driving our state elections.
In hindsight, do you think forming the Delhi government was a wrong decision? You said that you will be form one only if you win elections.
Leaving the government without discussion with people was a wrong decision. We took a referendum on whether we should be forming government. They said we should be. We should have discussed on leaving it too. Had we not formed the government at all, they would have said that somebody was giving support so you should have formed the government at least.