The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s attempt to expand outside New Delhi failed again as it drew a blank in assembly polls and the NOTA bagged more votes than the party.
In Madhya Pradesh, the AAP fielded 208 candidates and a majority of them had their deposits fortified. Its chief ministerial candidate and Narmada Bachao Andolan member Alok Agarwal bagged 823 votes as against 29,789 garnered by a Congress candidate and 29,396 by a BJP candidate from the Bhopal Dakshin Paschim seat. The counting for the seat is still on. In Chhattisgarh, the party fielded candidates on 85 seats, on 41 in Telangana and on 142 in Rajasthan.
The results showed that this was yet another election when the AAP was unable to make a mark outside Delhi.
It somehow succeeded in Punjab last year, where it is the principal opposition party but its legislators are at odds with the central leadership. It also put up a poor show in Goa last year.
The NOTA or none of the above option appeared to have outperformed several political parties, including the AAP and the Samajwadi Party, which contested the assembly polls in the five states, including Mizoram.
According to Election Commission’s website at 5:45 pm today, the NOTA votes ranged as high as 2.1 per cent in Chhattisgarh to a low of 0.5 per cent in Mizoram.
AAP’s leadership refrained from commenting on the party’s performance in the elections. However, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said the poll results were an indication that the countdown for the end of PM Modi’s rule has begun.
Party leaders said the AAP did not wholeheartedly participate in the polls and the exercise was undertaken to keep the organisation intact in most of the states.
A party leader said the central leadership also did not show interest in other states as it showed in Punjab and Goa in 2017.
“We did not project ourselves as the Congress and the BJP did during the polls. We could not match their resources,” the party leader said.
“In Telangana, we contested to make our presence felt and also for our organisation,” AAP MLA and the party’s Telangana in-charge Somnath Bharti said.
In Rajasthan, the AAP had to sort out its internal squabbles. Last year, the party made rebel leader Kumar Vishwas in-charge of the state. He quit the post, alleging that the leadership was not supporting him. The party’s affairs in Rajasthan were then handed over to Deepak Bajpai.