Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had claimed that it was going to form governments in Goa and Punjab, but the party lost in both the states. In Goa, it was decimated as it got only 6.3% of popular votes, which is less than what independents got in the coastal state, while in Punjab, it got 23.7% of popular votes coming second after Congress.
Going by these numbers, AAP should have been more worried about Goa, but in today’s press conference, party supremo Arvind Kejriwal focused almost entirely on Punjab, claiming that EVMs (Electronic Voting Machines) were tampered with to make AAP the loser.
One wonders why a 6.3% vote share in Goa doesn’t make Kejriwal go crazy but a 23.7% share in Punjab makes him come up with crazy conspiracy theories. After all, 23.7% is pretty healthy vote share in a triangular contest.
The answer lies in details.
Consider these data points from Punjab assembly election results, which shows that even though AAP will be the main opposition party in the assembly, it is not exactly the runner-up:
- Akali Dal contested on 94 seats compared to 112 by AAP and still got 1.5% higher vote share than AAP. AAP got a vote share of 23.7 % while Akali Dal got a vote share of 25.2%. So even though AAP is number two in terms of seats won, it is number three in terms of vote share.
- Akali Dal & BJP combined got 30.6% vote share, which is 5.7% more than alliance of AAP & LIP that got 24.9% vote share. Falling behind a rather unpopular ruling alliance is not something AAP can be happy with.
- Akali Dal & BJP combine came 1st/2nd in 80 out of 117 seats (strike rate of 68.3%) while AAP & LIP managed to get 1st/2nd position in 48/117 seats (strike rate of 41%).
- On 23 seats that BJP contested, it has more than double the vote share of AAP.
- On 23 seats that BJP contested, AAP alliance won zero seats. AAP got 3rd position in 20 seats, 4th position in 1 and managed to be at 2nd position in 2 seats.
- Essentially, when pitted against the BJP, AAP fails to be the winner. This is similar to what had happened during the 2014 general elections, when all the seats AAP won in Punjab was against Akali Dal.
- AAP’s vote share reduced to 23.7% from 24.4% it had captured in General elections 2014, and the assembly wins reduced to 20 from 33.
While the above data points prove that AAP is not really the runner-up in the assembly elections, other data points prove that it is not the favoured party for many.
Consider this: BJP lost the maximum vote share percentage compared to 2014, a decline of 3.3% which clearly has gone to the Congress party that saw a vote share increase of 5.4%. Akali Dal vote share declined only by 1.1% compared to General elections 2014.
What does it show? That due to AAP’s flirting with Khalistani elements, most BJP voters perhaps thought it wiser to support Congress than to vote for a losing alliance and allow AAP to win.
Not only that, if one looks further at details, it seems that even Akali Dal and its much maligned leaders had not lost support despite an all out attack by AAP and Kejriwal.
Throughout the campaign, AAP leaders tried their best to provoke Akalis by getting personal. AAP ran a personal campaign against Badals. Bhagwant Mann even did pathetic mimicry of Badal’s daughter-in-law & Union Minister Harsimrat Badal. Kejriwal even went to the extent of saying that he will drag Majithia by collar to jail. Now look what happened:
- Prakash Singh Badal won the Lambi Constituency defeating Congress CM candidate Amarinder Singh by 22,770 votes. His victory margin is more than the votes AAP candidate Jarnail Singh got.
- Sukhir Singh Badal won the Jalalabad constituency by 18500 votes defeating one of AAP’s probable CM candidate and sitting MP Bhagwant Mann.
- Bikram Singh Majithia won Majitha constituency by 22884 votes. His win margin was double the votes secured by AAP’s Himmat Singh Shergill.
So this is what the party could manage after AAP virtually made Punjab assembly elections a referendum on Kejriwal’s popularity. Remember Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia had asked the Punjab voters to vote as if they were voting to make Arvind Kejriwal the Chief Minister of Punjab.
AAP doesn’t want the debate and analysis of Punjab results to touch upon these issues. To stop debates like “Does Punjab assembly results prove that personal charisma or goodwill of Kejriwal is on the wane?” they started the debate “Can one trust the EVMs?”
Kejriwal’s extreme position in today’s press conference makes sure that its supporters don’t see these details and remain busy with the EVM tampering conspiracy theories. It is a well calculated step to keep the supporters engaged and to deflect criticism of Kejriwal’s brand of politics.