The defeat in Delhi doesn’t mean the AAP should be ruled out altogether as a party that once promised an alternative.
Assembly byelections hardly cause a ripple. Loaded in favour of ruling parties, it’s only the rare upsets that makes waves. But the latest round of bypolls for 10 seats in eight states upheld the BJP’s recent winning streak in North India. It was the only party to gain seats, at the AAP’s expense in Delhi and the BSP’s in Rajasthan. Its second-place finish in West Bengal, ahead of the Left, can be interpreted as another tea leaf. The predictable results also upheld the reliability of electronic voting machines, with Congress agreeing, at least in Karnataka, that EVMs tend to do the people’s bidding.
The AAP’s rout in the heart of Delhi at the hands of an Akali candidate contesting on the BJP symbol may have been a big talking point, besides the abysmally low turnout in the Srinagar Lok Sabha bypoll, with just 709 of 35,169 voters bothering to cast their ballots. The Valley boycott shows total failure by the administration to encourage people to take part in the democratic process, but then the atmosphere got vitiated after the deaths of eight people on the day of voting.
The defeat in Delhi doesn’t mean the AAP should be ruled out altogether as a party that once promised an alternative, though it does seem that the national parties are reasserting themselves after Arvind Kejriwal’s many failures, caused mostly by the AAP’s and its leader’s abiding faith in confrontational politics. With eight out of 10 seats going to the BJP and the Congress, the national parties can afford to smile, for now.