Watch Nidhi Razdan: The crises of AAP in India Video Credit: Gulf News

The heavy downpour that hit the national capital Delhi last week, causing massive chaos and bringing the city to its knees, was probably the best metaphor for the state of the ruling party — the Aam Aadmi Party or the AAP. The rain exposed the pathetic state of the drainage systems, many of which fall under municipal bodies controlled by the AAP. Roads were waterlogged for hours, while homes were flooded.

If governance is the big theme on which the AAP tries to showcase its achievements, then it has fallen flat on its face. It doesn’t help that Delhi is also governed by the central government, adding another layer of bureaucracy and political sniping between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and AAP over who is to blame. But the AAP cannot escape responsibility.

The storm (literally and metaphorically) came at a time when the AAP faced yet another crisis on the political front with the Central Bureau of Investigation or the CBI arresting Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in the Delhi excise policy case, days after he got bail in the Enforcement Directorate or ED case in the same matter.

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Kejriwal’s legal problems have only gotten worse and it could mean more jail time for him than had been initially anticipated. With his number two, Manish Sisodia, also in jail in the same case since last year, Kejriwal finds his party at a cross roads.

The recent Lok Sabha results present a real worry for the party which was born out of a massive anti corruption movement during the UPA government. For one, Kejriwal’s incarceration did not result in any sympathy for him in Delhi. The AAP-Congress alliance failed to win even a single seat.

Punjab is another worry for the AAP. Despite a resounding victory in the assembly polls in 2022, where the AAP won 92 out of 117 seats, the ruling party secured only 3 Lok Sabha seats out of the state’s 13. Seven were won by the Congress which was not in an alliance with the AAP in the state. Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann had flatly refused to have any tie up with the Congress.

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“Over promising”

Punjab results are a reality check for the party only two years after the huge win in the state polls. The poor showing in the general election came despite a free power scheme, mohalla clinics, and the establishment of new schools.

Many voters reported that their MLAs were inaccessible and hardly visited them. The party was also accused of “over promising” and not being able to deliver on everything it had set it to do. Punjab’s drug problem is a case in point.

Both Delhi and Punjab results showcase a bigger problem for the AAP. That it needs to move beyond the politics of theatrics and focus much more on governance. To its credit, the AAP government has done a lot of work in Delhi. But as the rain demonstrated, there is still a long way to go. We need to get basic civic amenities in place.

There is also the issue of over dependence on Arvind Kejriwal who has not really allowed another layer of leaders to flourish. Without Kejriwal, the AAP seems to be at a loss about what to do.

But even with Kejriwal, the AAP seems to have lost its way. His allegation that his arrest was vendetta politics did not cut ice with the voters of Delhi.

Which begs the question — is it time for a reset in the AAP? And does the party need to scale back on its national ambitions in order to consolidate its base in Delhi and Punjab. That may be a sobering yet realistic road ahead.