MUMBAI: What was once touted as a game changer for Indian politics has fallen flat on its face. So, is an obituary in order for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)?
The fledgling party founded by activist Arvind Kejriwal shook the nation when in its maiden election last year, it emerged the second largest party, winning 28 of the 70 seats in the Delhi assembly
Indians from all walks of life hailed the party. Marketing gurus encouraged brands to learn a lesson or two from it. AAP’s USP was that it gave the common man hope that there would be a better tomorrow, which would be created by, of and for the common man.
AAP caught the country’s imagination to the extent that everyone wanted to be a part of the party and what it stood for. The media fraternity was so taken up that not only did it cover the party’s every move, several journalists left cushy jobs to support the cause.
Former journalists Shazia Ilmi and Manish Sisodia became founding members of AAP which also attracted the likes of K V Sridhar (Pops), Sameer Nair, Meera Sanyal, Manisha Lath Gupta and Ashutosh to its fold.
However, all was lost when Kejriwal quit as chief minister of Delhi and jumped into the battle for the 16th Lok Sabha. Neither the Congress nor AAP could make a dent in the popularity of BJP which went on to win with an overwhelming majority.
Soon after, prominent members of AAP quit the party to the nation it looked like rats leaving a sinking ship but the reasons cited were around differences around leadership and instability.
It can be noted that on 5 June, Maharashtra leaders of the party Anjali Damania and Preeti Menon who resigned from the party, hours later took a u-turn after they were assured of effective communication within the party.
The question then that raises eyebrows is AAP uncertain about its away ahead?
“People joined the party because they wanted to see change. However, with a clear mandate to one party, they are now scattering,” says Scarecrow Communications co-founder Manish Bhat, whose agency even organized an award function named Aam Aadmi Party where it honoured behind the scenes people from the advertising industry on the occasion of its fourth anniversary.
Nonetheless, many from the media continue to support AAP and feel that the hurried decisions of a few members should not impact the real motive for which the party was created.
“The party was started for a noble cause – clean politics – and it still stands for it. There might be a little shake up but that is alright. It will give a chance to the party to rediscover itself and come back with a bang,” says Pops, who continues to support the party. “Right now, India doesn’t have a strong opposition and hence, it is very important for AAP to become one. They are the change agents and need to keep that conscience/hunger alive in the common man’s heart.”
Like Pops, former Axis Bank CMO Manisha Lath Gupta, who quit her job for the party, believes that flux is needed for a party to grow stronger and rediscover itself. “One must not forget that AAP is still the only entity which will and can raise voice against all the ills gripping our society,” she says. “People might say that the party is crumbling, but it is not. After the national executive meeting, I am sure that we will remerge like a phoenix.”
“It’s a standard revolution procedure,” says former media executive Sameer Nair who had joined the party to support and contribute to its communication strategy. He adds, “Even large companies go through similar situation when there is any change (win or a loss).”
As much as there are members who left AAP after the Lok Sabha debacle, there are others who refuse to let go of the ideology of the party they supported so passionately.