AAP resolves to come out stronger in 2024

Mar 14, 2023 11:16 AM IST

AAP’s growing popularity has sparked fear in the BJP as it poses a real challenge ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha Polls

It is not uncommon for political commentators and reporters to hear senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders, including former BJP president and home minister Amit Shah, express caution about the rise of the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its potential threat to traditional parties. The BJP’s brand of nationalism and promise of development led to a second term for Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government. However, the party’s delivery on most promises, which were meant to lead India to become the Vishwa Guru, has fallen short of people’s expectations.

The AAP is seen as representing a kaam ki rajneeti agenda and an alternative political approach, in contrast to the BJP’s Kattar Hindutva agenda, which has brought tremendous support from the people. (PTI) PREMIUM
The AAP is seen as representing a kaam ki rajneeti agenda and an alternative political approach, in contrast to the BJP’s Kattar Hindutva agenda, which has brought tremendous support from the people. (PTI)

Seventy-five years after Independence, India’s aspirations are at an all-time high. However, the ruling BJP’s political priorities have been to win elections to solidify its presence. Despite not holding a majority, the BJP has formed governments in several states, including Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Manipur and Goa. The party’s playbook has established Machiavellian politics as the new normal in Indian politics, which is referred to by opposition parties as “operation lotus.” The central investigative agencies have played a key role in the success of this operation. Since the BJP formed the government at the Centre nine years ago, there has been an unprecedented rise in attacks on Opposition-ruled governments using these agencies as political proxies.

Although such tactics have been successful in most cases, it has had a dismal track record in the case of the AAP. Recent events targeting Delhi’s deputy chief minister, Manish Sisodia, are another instance of the BJP’s vendetta against the AAP. The only plausible reason could be the rise of the AAP, which has become a national party in a short period. For the longest time, the AAP’s political opponents referred to it as a “Delhi-based political party” and did not see it as a political force in the rest of the country. However, its victory in Punjab last year, followed by electoral successes in Goa and Gujarat, has made the AAP a formidable national force that will likely strengthen in the coming months and years.

However, the biggest success of the AAP has been the change in the political narrative that it has brought throughout the country. The AAP’s unique blend of politics and delivery-focused governance has damaged both traditional parties - the BJP and the Congress. Unlike most Opposition parties, the AAP has stood its ground against the political onslaught of the mighty BJP, which has rattled the BJP leadership as they prepare for the 2024 Lok Sabha elections. Kejriwal’s leadership style resonates with the aspirations of people who want world-class services to live a dignified life in the world’s largest democracy. In contrast, the BJP’s counteroffer is only a cocktail of nationalism-fueled rhetoric of India’s rise as the Vishwa Guru. The BJP’s failure led to a sense of despair and a search for a new political alternative that would genuinely represent the aspirations of a New India.

The BJP’s playbook of politically motivated actions against the AAP in the case of Satyendar Jain and Sisodia comes as no surprise, given the latter’s growing popularity across India. However, what is unexpected is that these attempts have not resulted in any AAP leader defecting to the BJP or agreeing to overthrow the democratically elected government. Since 2014, at least 211 lawmakers from non-BJP parties have joined the BJP. Instead, the AAP’s supporters have mobilised and taken to the streets, earning public sympathy for the party. Despite the alarming conviction rates of BJP politicians in India, they have been manipulating the legal system to bully their political opponents.

Data from the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) showed that between 2004 and 2015, 30% of BJP MPs accused of criminal charges were found guilty, and in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, 39% of BJP candidates revealed criminal cases against themselves, including 14% involving serious crimes such as murder, attempted murder, and crimes against women. In all, 43% of the members of the Lower House faced criminal charges, the data showed.

The AAP is seen as representing a kaam ki rajneeti agenda and an alternative political approach, in contrast to the BJP’s Kattar Hindutva agenda, which has brought tremendous support from the people. However, as the AAP expands its presence to other states and prepares to contest elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, and Karnataka, the BJP has become increasingly concerned about its growing influence, significantly since the Congress has weakened, which the BJP considered its primary Opposition.

This has prompted the BJP to resort to illegal tactics to target the AAP, including the misuse of central investigative agencies such as the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), the Enforcement Directorate, and the income-tax department. Despite using all the resources at its disposal for over a year to find evidence of wrongdoing by the Delhi deputy CM, the case against him is weak from a legal standpoint. Newspaper reports have said that since 2014, 95% of the 124 CBI cases against prominent leaders were targeted at Opposition parties. Similarly, 95% of the 121 prominent politicians probed by the ED since 2014 were Opposition leaders.

The BJP, by its well-established practice, was able to get Sisodia arrested, but that has led to widespread condemnation of the illegal arrest by the larger non-Congress, non-BJP Opposition. This case might be the last in BJP’s playbook, as the united Opposition considers judicial review of all such political cases. Kejriwal, the most popular non-BJP leader across India, is going to be the challenger to PM Modi’s BJP. Hence, the BJP is fighting a losing battle against the alternative presented by Kejriwal’s AAP.

Reena Gupta is a spokesperson, the Aam Aadmi Party

The views expressed are person

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