Unintentionally no doubt, Mr. Shanti Bhushan of Aam Admi Party (AAP) has scored a self goal that is a godsend for BJP President Mr. Amit Shah. Mr. Bhushan went public with criticism of AAP chief Mr. Arvind Kejriwal describing him as being unfit to organize an all India party. While praising Mr. Kejriwal as a campaigner, Mr. Bhushan belittled his ability as an organizer and tactician. His main grouse was that Mr. Kejriwal decided to not contest the forthcoming assembly elections already announced for four states. He said this denied AAP the opportunity to spread its message across the nation. He was most critical of spiking the Haryana assembly poll and denying Mr. Yogendra Yadav opportunity to be projected as possible chief minister. Media and loquacious AAP workers are freely talking about two factions developing in the party.
Mr. Kejriwal’s decision to not contest outside Delhi for the present was most likely influenced by the drubbing the party received in the general election. Almost all the 400 plus candidates lost their deposits and only three were elected from Punjab.
The very approach of AAP to create a national party was misconceived from the start. Merely talking against corruption and in favour of good governance is not enough of an agenda to attract followers nationwide. Concrete policies to address popular grievances were required. Nor was it wise to plunge into declaring a party before a nationwide movement to explain a concrete agenda and enrolling members had been completed. Circumstances and special conditions allowed AAP to emerge as a force in Delhi. Instead of frittering away financial and human resources all over the country it may be more beneficial for AAP to concentrate on Delhi for success and emerge as the recognized regional party forming the government in the nation’s capital. If that were accomplished AAP could act as the catalyst for a national federation of regional parties and set its agenda.
There were good prospects of that happening. AAP was in a position to wrest power in the next assembly polls in Delhi. That is evident from the BJP reluctance to dissolve the assembly and declare elections. That scenario has been now all but shattered, thanks to Mr. Shanti Bhushan’s ill timed public criticism of Mr. Kejriwal which might divide the party into factions. In public perception this has already dealt likely a fatal blow to AAP if assembly elections are now held in Delhi. Mr. Amit Shah and his colleagues who were visibly nervous may now be breathing easy. Unless there are dramatic new developments it would seem that AAP has handed on a platter victory to the BJP in the Delhi polls.