Undaunted by sustained slander, campaigning through assaults by thugs of political parties as well as police, overcoming a fictional sting operation denting their public image, politely answering engineered last minute allegations of misappropriated funds, remaining open to an investigation of finances any time…. right up to polling booth agents being harassed by police and election commission officials, the odds against the Aam Aadmi Party were considerable and persistent. Yet, the party has managed to deliver on its word.
The party that was blithely dismissed as an insignificant and inexperienced first timer has decimated the Congress and provided enough of a competition to BJP to put its victory in a no-win situation for being unable to form a stable government in spite of being the single largest party of the lot.
Even after the polls, as the exit polls presented fairly depressing prospects for AAP, its key workers were simply dismissing those results KNOWING that they had got a good response. It was incredible confidence, but more than confidence, it was a hands on knowing of the extent of the effort and the reception it had received enough to have a concrete vision of the larger picture. I imagine this only comes from the high engagement within the party and with people.
There simply was no real data in terms of what the larger picture was, and what data existed contradicted what the AAP claimed their reach was. There were no “5 lakh rallies”, their musical concert for the common man didn’t even get covered by a media that was busy questioning AAP over a suicide attempt by a worker for domestic reasons. So clearly there was a certain kind of coverage AAP could get as much as it wanted and a blackout on another kind.
The lesson here seems to be that real grassroots contact does not depend on media coverage, which in my view is excellent, since I believe the next freedom struggle will be one of minds and media has already pitched camp on the “colonists” side.
The Anna Hazare who is so proud of their achievement now, thought nothing of assaulting their integrity a few days before the polls, again raising a question about funds that he had raised whenever prompted over and over, and accepted the answer as satisfactory over and over.
The media that is now talking of a stunning debut and fawning all over the Aam Aadmi Party for the drama that they can sell, are the same ones that published a supposed sting that defamed them without proving a single crime. Further, when the sting was proved to be doctored to create a perception of guilt, the same media did not see fit to broadcast the clarification on their platforms. While the Aam Aadmi Party survived this attack like it did the rest, the impact on the candidates slandered by the sting cannot be denied. In spite of this, Shazia Ilmi, the chief target of the sting, lost by a mere 400 votes – that is after malicious defamation of her by exploiting a family conflict, after deliberately breaking religious affiliation stereotypes in selecting candidates.
Aam Aadmi Party came under criticism for having selected a mere 7 women candidates. I criticized them too for it. I got a frustrated response of women were not stepping up to become candidates and Aam Aadmi Party would even be happy to achieve a 50% representation of women. This is at the time our token feminists were “surging” for 33% reservation of women as their right – which is wrong on so many counts, it deserves its own article. Yet, as the dust of the polls settled, it turns out that there were only 3 women candidates who won – all of them from Aam Aadmi Party – confirming my belief that it is the empowerment that brings women ahead rather than numbers.
Regardless, the Congress stands decimated, the Aam Aadmi Party is a guaranteed presence in the Assembly and the BJP, even when it won has not been able to win strongly enough to risk forming a stable government without serious humble pie by taking Congress support, that both parties will not want or without being in the public eye poaching members from other parties – again from the Congress or AAP – both parties with a stated disinclination to affiliate with the BJP. A win that leaves you with no choices you like is little better than losing.
In contrast, AAP went from zero to hero in one election. Regardless of any outcome of the election, its presence in the Assembly is assured. A reelection will only work to its advantage after having proved that it would not be a waste of a vote, as well as comprehensively breaking the omerta on positive news about AAP in media.
At the end of the day, it seems Aam Aadmi won. Not just in terms of a dramatic election result, but in terms of actually being in a place where every choice leads to happiness – a place not even the winning party is in.
This is no mean task to achieve in one year, and should be noted as an excellent example in management of party.