Aam Aadmi Party, which made its electoral debut in the Parliamentary election in 2014, has not made a mark as expected. The party’s candidate in Coimbatore Pon. Chandran said that he expected to poll at least 50,000 votes. But he ended up polling only 6,680 votes, which is only 0.57 per cent of the total votes polled.
In Namakkal, the AAP candidate T. Chellakumarasamy polled 4,348 votes as against his expectation of nearly two lakh votes. Across the Western Tamil Nadu, the fledgling party’s performance has been more or less similar, securing less than one per cent of the popular vote.
The only exception was in the Nilgiris where candidate M.T. Rani polled 1.34 per cent votes.
Sources in the AAP say that though one has to factor in the pro-AIADMK wave across the State, that alone cannot be cited as the reason for the candidates’ rather poor performance. To put things in perspective, the AAP candidates in almost all constituencies have polled fewer than the votes recorded against the ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option. Those who voted for NOTA were those who were unhappy with the candidates and the parties in the fray. It is for this very reason that AAP came into existence – to provide new leaders and build a party with difference. But somehow people seem to have not bought the AAP’s promises, the sources say.
Therefore, the party’s next target is to work more closely with the people so that before the next Assembly election in Tamil Nadu in 2016, the AAP is able to convert the NOTA votes in to AAP’s. That’s the first step. The second step would be reach out more to people as in many places people felt that the candidates were presented to the people at the last minute and that the voters did not really relate to the candidates.
The sources said that the AAP’s new campaign strategy of directly meeting the voters and not conducting public meetings may also have not gone down well with the voters. But that was how the AAP had wanted to campaign – by not spending on the public meetings, says a candidate on condition of anonymity. The absence of star campaigners like Arvind Kejriwal is also being felt. As another candidate says if only Mr. Kejriwal had visited Chennai or any other city in Tamil Nadu, the ripple effect could have been felt in Coimbatore, Tirupur, Erode, Namakkal and Salem.
The sources say that the challenge before the workers is to build credibility and sell the same to the public so that they start trusting in AAP. And that trust when translates into vote, will make it a potent force in the political space in Tamil Nadu.