AAP stands warned from by-election results

It is difficult to extrapolate a clear picture of national politics from 10 assembly bypoll results across eight states. They have thrown up a mixed picture that suggests our politics is in as much a state of flux as ever before. Both BJP and Congress claim satisfaction with the results, as do Trinamool and JMM. The only clear loser is AAP.
Incumbents usually have the edge in by-elections, as borne out by this round too ­ from Trinamool in Bengal to Congress in Karnataka, and BJP’s wins in Rajasthan, Assam and MP . Overall, the big winner is BJP which has won five out of the 10 seats ­ taking away Rajasthan’s Dholpur from BSP and Delhi’s Rajouri Garden from AAP, and winning in Himachal Pradesh. Congress can also rejoice, having bucked the declinist narrative that casts it as a spent force ­ increasing its vote share substantially even in seats it lost. In Madhya Pradesh it was an even score with BJP; it kept one seat and lost one.

The clear story here is AAP’s rout in Rajouri Garden ­ falling from 47% in 2015 to 11% this time, with the candidate actually losing his deposit. This augurs badly for AAP in upcoming Delhi municipal elections even as Congress ­ with 33% vote share ­ could be back in the reckoning. AAP was perceived to have squandered its local mandate by trying to grow too fast, with MLA Jarnail Singh having turned his attention to Punjab. AAP should now know there are no shortcuts to building and sustaining a party organisation, and nurturing a constituency . It cannot coast any longer on popular disillusionment with other parties, it must consolidate its turf and deliver on its own promises.

THK: Times of India

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