Want AAP 2.0? 4 Lessons For Kejriwal From Maha & Haryana Polls

The BJP’s performance isn’t just an eye-opener for the saffron party, but a manual on what not to do for AAP.

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Arvind Kejriwal has a few lessons to learn from Maharashtra and Haryana elections. BJP's 'below expectations' performance was not just an eye-opener for the saffron party – it can act as a manual for what not to do when it comes to fighting state elections.

The CM of the national capital can still manage to pull off a victory for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), but only if it runs an effective, focused campaign and does not repeat the mistakes the BJP made in Maharashtra and Haryana!

Here are four major takeaways Kejriwal should keep in mind if he wants to return as CM.

Lesson 1: The Vote Share Numbers

Compared to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP’s vote share fell by around 22 percentage points in the recent Haryana Assembly elections – from 58.2% to 36.5%.

The fall is similar to BJP's 14-percentage-point fall between the 2014 Lok Sabha elections and 2015 Delhi Assembly elections held nine months later.

Although the vote share has fallen, BJP's popularity is intact, which was evident in the Lok Sabha polls.

But issues like nationalism and the abrogation of Article 370 didn’t translate to votes for the BJP in Haryana and Maharashtra, which should come as a glimmer of hope that voters will choose a party based on the work it has done in Delhi.

Lesson 2: Advantages of Being the 3rd Party

Congress' vote share did not rise in the two state elections. In fact, vote share of smaller parties and Independents rose from 6.1 to 17.4%, which means it wasn’t exactly a surge in favour of the Congress. It appears that a certain section of voters –Jats, Muslims and some Dalits – voted for whichever candidate was best placed to defeat BJP. This explains why the Congress performed poorly in seats where the competition was between the BJP and a third party or candidate.

This kind of tactical voting could be seen among Delhi’s Muslim voters in many seats as they consolidated behind Congress in the 2013 Assembly polls and 2019 Lok Sabha polls, but behind AAP in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and 2015 Assembly polls.

Therefore, like Haryana, it is likely that Delhi voters who have decided to vote against the BJP could consolidate behind the strongest non-BJP party in that particular seat.

Lesson 3: Choose Muddas Smartly

While BJP maintained its urban dominance with the BJP-Sena alliance getting close to 80% of the seats in urban Maharashtra and 90% of the seats of urban Haryana, the BJP's performance fell in rural belts in both states. In Haryana, BJP won barely one-third of the rural seats.

Urban voters were much more likely to give importance to issues like nationalism and Modi’s popularity than rural voters.

Since Delhi is predominantly urban and semi-urban, AAP and Congress may find it tougher to push a narrative against the BJP.

And, unlike Haryana and Maharashtra – where rural anti-incumbency harmed the BJP – Delhi is ruled by AAP.

So the only way BJP can be defeated in Delhi is a positive vote in favour of the incumbent Arvind Kejriwal government.

Lesson 4: Lessons in Delhi’s Voting History

Delhi has a history of voting differently in Lok Sabha and Assembly elections. Let's look back for a minute... in the 1998 Assembly polls, Delhi voted for the Congress under Sheila Dikshit, but a year later, gave Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s BJP all seven seats in the Lok Sabha elections.

In 2014, the BJP won all seven Lok Sabha seats but barely eight months later, Kejriwal stormed into power winning 67 out of 70 Assembly seats.

According to the Lokniti-CSDS post-poll survey conducted after the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year, nearly one in four BJP and Congress voters said they would vote for AAP at the state level and only 7% of AAP voters said they would shift to BJP or Congress at the state level.

If one-fourth of BJP and Congress voters do end up shifting to AAP as predicted by the survey, it could give the party a nearly 20-percentage-point boost in the Assembly polls.

With Maharashtra and Haryana elections results, one thing is clear – issues of national significance don't necessarily help win state elections.

Despite Kejriwal's reported ground-level work, the battle for Delhi still may not be an easy one.

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