After poll jolt, parties shun AAP

The Asian Age.  | Sreeparna Chakrabarty

India, Politics

Punjab-Goa jolts leave Kejriwal’s outfit out of anti-BJP platform.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: After the heavy defeats in Punjab, Goa and recently at the bypolls in the national capital, there seem to be noone willing to partner the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in an alliance at the national level.

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, who was riding high with anti-BJP outfits, suddenly looks isolated, remaining absent at many events organised to build up a grand anti-BJP alliance ahead of the 2019 general elections.

A case in point is the recent march to the Rashtrapati Bhavan by Opposition parties over the EVM tampering issue where the AAP remained absent. Mr Kejriwal, though, had been one of the first after BSP chief Mayawati to flag the issue of supposed tampering of EVMs.

The party’s participation in joint Opposition events has been rather patchy. While it marched with the other parties like Congress during the protests against the Land Acquisition Bill, it was not a part of the recent protest marches to the Election Commision against supposed EVM tampering. Even during the agitation against demonetisation, the AAP joined only in individual roadshows with Trinamul Congress chief Mamata Banerjee.

“The AAP is not a conventional party. It has kept itself equidistant from both the BJP and the Congress, though it has made its anti-BJP stance quiet clear,” JD(U) national spokesperson K.C. Tyagi told this newspaper.

“This might also be linked to the fact that the party is terribly demoralised after losing the elections in Punjab and Goa and most recently the Delhi bypolls,” he said.

Another opinion is that many Opposition parties are wary of Mr Kejriwal’s “personalised” style of politics.

“Sometimes Mr Kejriwal’s high octance personalized style is detrimental to themes like Opposition unity,” Trinamul Congress leader in the Lok Sabha Saugata Roy said.

In fact, with the AAP’s stock going down, many opposition parties, excluding the Mamata Banerjee led Trinamul Congress, are now trying to gather around Mr Nitish Kumar-led JD(U). Mr Kumar and Ms Banerjee each see themselves as a leader of a grand anti-BJP alliance and hence the TMC’s reluctance to accept the Bihar Chief Minister as the leader of such a front.

Though the Congress stock continues to plummet, some of the regional outfits, including SP, BSP, RJD and Trinamul Congress continue to prefer Congress as a rallying point. The argument is that these regional outfits feel that it can have a “peaceful co-existence” with Congress.

“Many parties still see the Congress as a natural leader and a bond which will lead to the formation of a grand alliance ahead of 2019 general elections,” a senior Congress leader said.

Agreeing with this viewpoint, Mr Roy said since the Congress faces AAP as a direct competitor in many states, including Delhi, they seem to be cagey about sharing space with the party.

The Congress has taken the lead at most protests like against demonetization and the most recent one against the supposed tampering of EVMs.

Leaders of most parties shared stage with the Congress during a press conference led by Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi during the anti-demonetisation campaign. But the AAP was conspicuous by its absence.

The AAP’s future plans will now come clear only after the coming municipal polls in the capital later this month.