Editorial

AAP, AIMIM played spoiler in Gujarat, no silent campaign in hard-fought poll

The Congress is best placed to be the “pole” around which a non-Bharatiya Janata Party front can be built for the 2024 general elections, and that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and All India Majlis Itehadul Muslimeeen (AIMIM) do not have much appeal outside Delhi and Hyderabad with the exception of Haryana and Punjab.

There were lessons to be learnt by the Congress from the Gujarat loss, there is no such thing as a “silent” campaign in a hard-fought election. The Aam Aadmi Party played spoiler in Gujarat, like it did earlier in Goa and Uttarakhand.

The recent elections in Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh assemblies and the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi should reflect on the fact that the BJP was in power in all three but was defeated in two.

That is a huge setback for the BJP. The win in Gujarat, important as it is, cannot hide the fact that the BJP, the incumbent, was defeated decisively in Himachal Pradesh and MCD.

The Congress in Himachal and the AAP in Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls won by a decisive margin of seats.

The overall margin of votes in Himachal Pradesh may be small, but it was not a state-wide presidential kind of election. It was a constituency-wise election and we have to look at the margin in each constituency.

In many of the 40 constituencies won by the Congress, the margins were sizable. A state-wide margin is an inappropriate measure in a constituency-wise election. Whereas the PM highlighting the less than one per cent vote share difference between the Congress and the BJP in Himachal is far from truth.

The Congress did not have great expectations in Gujarat. In every election the parties must put its best forward and throw into the battle all the available resources – human, material and digital.

The Gujarat Pradesh Congress Committee failed to mobilise the best human resources available in the Congress all over the country and deployed them in the campaign. There is no such thing as a ‘silent’ campaign in a hard-fought election. There are lessons to be learnt from the Gujarat loss.

The AAP would not pose a challenge to the Congress in Gujarat, leadership of the Opposition block after winning MCD polls and bagging about 13 per cent of the vote share in Gujarat. The AAP’s win in the MCD election was not surprising as it is the ruling party in Delhi.

The BJP carried the burden of 15 years of incumbency in the MCD and the Congress was not a serious contender.

However, in Gujarat, the AAP and AIMIM played the spoiler’s role, like these parties earlier in Goa and Uttarakhand. The AAP dented the chances of the Congress in 33 seats in Gujarat.

The AAP has no much appeal outside Delhi except perhaps (in) Haryana and Punjab. As the AAP travels further from Delhi, it will find that its appeal diminishes. Whether the AAP has qualified for the label of ‘national’ party or not, is of little significance.

The Congress however still remains the fulcrum of the Opposition alliance to take on the BJP in 2024 polls. The Congress is best placed to be the pole around which a non-BJP front can be built.

Unity of Opposition has always been difficult to build and maintain. Remember 1977 and 1989? If the Congress undertakes the task with humility and if the other parties undertake the task with realism, it will be possible to forge unity for an electoral alliance.

The poll results and its implications before 2024, there is 2023 and elections in several states, including Karnataka, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Along with the results of the recently concluded three elections in 2022, the forthcoming state elections next year will set the field for the Lok Sabha elections in 2024.

How well the BJP will do and how well the Congress and other non-BJP parties will do in the state elections will undoubtedly play a major role in determining the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections.

The Bharat Jodo Yatra (BJY) had good impact on the recently concluded polls and it would pay any electoral dividends to the party going forward, as the Rahul Gandhi made it clear at the outset that the aim of the Bharat Jodo Yatra was not to reap political benefits.

Its goals were larger and with a long time view. it is not pertinent to expect the BJY to influence the election in a state that the Bharat Jodo Yatra did not traverse. What impact it may have in the states that it traversed remains to be seen.

In Gujarat assembly polls, the BJP won a record 156 seats with a staggering 52.5 per cent vote share, dwarfing the Opposition Congress and the AAP, that got over 27 per cent and about 13 per cent vote share respectively.

The Congress got just 17 seats while the AAP managed to bag five. Independents won three seats and the Samajwadi Party picked up one. The five AAP MLAs are on their legs to be sold to BJP by merge with the BJP.

In Himachal Pradesh, the Congress won 40 seats and a vote share of 43.9 per cent. The BJP won 25 with 43 per cent vote share and on three seats independents were victorious.