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  Metros   Delhi  27 Dec 2017  Rahul Gandhi’s gain is CM Kejriwal’s loss, says rebel MLA Kapil

Rahul Gandhi’s gain is CM Kejriwal’s loss, says rebel MLA Kapil

Published : Dec 27, 2017, 12:31 am IST
Updated : Dec 27, 2017, 12:31 am IST

The two parties are vastly different, of course. The Congress is 132 years old; AAP has just celebrated its fifth anniversary.

Rahul Gandhi
 Rahul Gandhi

New Delhi: They are roughly the same age, both have been lampooned mercilessly on social media and are hoping to oust the BJP from power.

But the similarities, perhaps, are not the link between Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal, 49, and Congress president Rahul Gandhi, 47. What threads their fates together is that one man’s success could spell the other’s failure.

“Rahul Gandhi’s gain is Kejriwal’s loss,” said rebel AAP MLA Kapil Mishra. “Both parties vie for the same vote base.”

Delhi chief minister “Mr  Kejriwal’s attempts to establish himself as an alternative to the Congress seem to be running into rough waters with the party’s improved performance in the recent Gujarat polls under the leadership of its president.

The two parties are vastly different, of course. The Congress is 132 years old; AAP has just celebrated its fifth anniversary. The former has a pan-Indian presence, while AAP rules Delhi and is present only in patches in the north.

But when AAP came to power in Delhi, it did so by engulfing Congress votes. In 2015, the Congress couldn’t win a single seat. Its vote share dipped to 9 per cent, whereas the BJP’s remained more or less the same.

Now a string of ignominious defeats has battered AAP’s image, posing a threat to the image of its leader, Mr Kejriwal.

The chief minister’s influence now seems to be on the wane, while the Congress president’s is on an all-time high.

AAP’s success was linked to Congress defeat. Will the Gujarat elections, fought by the Congress leader with such vigour that it upped its 2012 tally of 61 seats to 78, spell bad news for AAP?

“Mr Gandhi is yet to make a mark if you compare him with Modi’s electoral performance since 2014. But his rise will have an impact on Mr Kejriwal,” said a former AAP leader.

Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) director Sanjay Kumar points out that the AAP leader’s popularity has already taken a hit.

“Mr Kejriwal’s ratings have already gone down drastically, as has his popularity in the last few months,” Mr Kumar said.

A recent survey by the Pew Research Centre, a US-based fact-tank, states that in 2017, 39 per cent of the people had a favourable view of Mr Kejriwal, down from 60 per cent in 2015.

Born out of the anti-graft movement, four years ago Kejriwal seemed to have captured the imagination of the people, fatigued by the corruption charges that mired the then UPA government led by Mammohan Singh and the Delhi government of three-time chief minister Sheila Dikshit.

In 2013, when Mr Kejriwal’s AAP’s stormed to power in Delhi, the Congress was down to eight seats. A year later, in the Lok Sabha polls, Mr Gandhi’s party managed a mere 44 seats.

In the Assembly polls in 2015, AAP decimated the Opposition, bagging 67 seats with a vote share of 54.3 per cent. That it won from all the minority dominated areas in Delhi indicated it had ousted the Congress from its bastions. “Mr  Kejriwal’s visit to the Hyderabad University campus where dalit scholar Rohith Vemula had committed suicide and a job offer to his brother in the Delhi government were also seen as moves to attract dalit votes, traditionally won by the Congress, at the national level.

AAP’s strategy was to attack BJP leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi and establish itself as an alternative to the Congress.    

Tags: rahul gandhi, arvind kejriwal