Elections are over, and every political leader is in an introspective mode. Citizen Matters spoke to Prithvi Reddy, leader of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) from Karnataka, to understand his views on the results and the way forward for the party in Bengaluru.
What is your take on the election results?
I don’t think there is much to be said. It has been nothing short of a tidal wave or tsunami. It just washed away everything in sight, and that includes bad politics and good politics. And I think we need to recognise it and first congratulate the BJP-led NDA. Though the Congress handed it to them on a platter, they still needed to fight – they ran a well-planned, organised and effective campaign. They have already delivered on their promise on a Congress-mukt Bharat. Now is the time that they need to deliver on their other promises.
People have seen what’s been happening in our country on account of the Congress for the past 65 years. I think people reached a stage where they thought, ‘Well, we’ve tried everything else, let’s now give the BJP a chance.’ Obviously the anger against the system is so great (I don’t think even the BJP ever imagined that it would get such a huge mandate). With that mandate comes a huge responsibility. The AAP and people like me are going to be here and not go the Pakistan. We are going to keep fighting for what we think is right. And the positive thing is that if they deliver on their promises, many people, especially me, will be very happy to go back to doing what we were doing earlier, because we are not in politics out of choice.
So let’s wait and watch, the point is that we were never anti-Congress, we were anti-corruption. So we will continue to do what we are doing. Now we have the opportunity to do it inside, as well as outside Parliament. And I’m sure even though it is a very small number, our MPs will set an example of what a constructive opposition should be like. We will play that watchdog’s role. All these days what happened inside Parliament was kept under wraps. We will demonstrate the concept of representing people rather than being elected representatives.
What are AAP’s plans in Bangalore going forward?
First we need to study what went wrong and retrospect, learn from our mistakes. We certainly think that this gives us an opportunity to give that breathing time to build our organisation. We have been busy from the time we started. For instance, in Karnataka, from the time we have started, we had Assembly elections – we were a political party, but we were not fighting elections. We could not really talk about our party, because people would ask, if you are not fighting elections, what kind of a political party are you? Soon after, we had the Delhi elections.
Effectively, we are a six-month old party. For every person who voted for us, there were at least three people who supported us, but said this time it’s Modi. We look at that as a positive. We have managed to get around 2% vote share across the country which is one crore people plus; that’s a huge platform on which we can build. We had promised people that we would provide a clean alternative in spite of not having time, resources. We happened to be the party that fielded the largest number of candidates, we fielded the largest number of women, we fielded the largest number of Muslims – larger than the BJP and Congress. We did all this in 30 crores or thereabouts, which is what people spend in one or two constituencies.
Today what we have to create is a nationwide presence, however small that is. We have a leader in Raichur (Bhimaraya Jaradabandi). He’s a person we can use as a driving force. We have people in every Lok Sabha constituency. As a by-product of this election, we have got very high quality people who have worked on this campaign, who will become our core strengths and this is going to take us a long way. We have all the ingredients.
AAP is going to fight the upcoming BBMP elections. We had a meeting post-elections with our candidates across the state. We have decided that like we did in Delhi, we will concentrate all our resources in Bangalore. We will try to win seats and make a difference in peoples’ lives. And we will try to demonstrate this concept of Swaraj which today is a very foreign concept. When we demonstrate a change in people’s day to day lives, that will set certain benchmarks for electoral politics in our country.
My heart really goes out to all those who have made sacrifices for us. A small piece of me feels like we have let them down. But heart of hearts, we know we have tried our best, and beyond that we can’t do much.
Two of the re-elected MPs have been in power for a bit and many folks are of the opinion that they have not done their due-diligence….
I don’t want to criticise the voters because I respect the mandate. That why I said that the BJP campaign was well-planned, organised and effective. Ananth Kumar did not ask for votes for himself. I think if he had, he would have lost. All of them projected Modi. Otherwise what sense does it make that a Yeddyurappa wins? There can’t be any justification for why people voted for him, except that they voted for Modi. I hope the BJP, considering that they have the mandate, will keep all these people at arms distance and control the the fringe elements who scare the living daylights out of people. It was positive to see Rajnath Singh say at his press conference, ‘Don’t be arrogant, don’t be abusive’ – these are good signs.