Some parties have swept the polls in their maiden attempt

If the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) does as well on Sunday as exit polls have projected, it will be an impressive but not unprecedented start for the new party. An analysis of the maiden performance of newly-formed parties over the last 30 years shows that many newcomers have won big.

Projections for the AAP have ranged from 18 per cent to 25 per cent of the vote share, with seat projections ranging from six (India Today-ORG exit poll) to 15 (ABP News-Nielsen exit poll) to 13-21 (CSDS post-poll survey). While this is impressive for a party formed in November last, India has been witness to much bigger sweeps by new parties.

The Hindu used Election Commission data and looked at political parties formed in the last 30 years. Only all-new parties, whose leaders had not held office under any other political party, were considered. Since the AAP is contesting all the seats in Delhi, only those parties that contested nearly all the seats in their respective States were considered. The six parties were the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), the now merged Praja Rajyam Party (PRP), the Lok Satta Party (all in Andhra Pradesh), the Assam Gana Parishad (AGP) in Assam, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in Uttar Pradesh and the Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam (DMDK) in Tamil Nadu. Three independent political experts agreed that this was a fair selection.

The two most comprehensive victories were won by the TDP in the 1983 Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections, and the AGP in the 1985 Assam Assembly elections. Led by the charismatic film star N.T. Rama Rao on a platform of Telugu pride, the TDP, formed a year before the elections, swept to power with over 46 per cent of the vote and 202 seats in the 294-seat Assembly. The AGP, on the other hand, grew out of a long student movement and political agitation, and swept to power after being formed just two months before the election. The AGP won nearly 35 per cent of the vote and 63 seats in the 126-member Assembly, wooing four MLAs after the election and forming the government.

More moderately successful were the PRP launched by actor Chiranjeevi in 2008, the BSP launched in 1983 and the DMDK formed in 2005. Contesting 288 seats in Andhra Pradesh in the 2009 election, the PRP won 16.32 per cent of the vote and 18 seats. The BSP, which grew out of its charismatic founder Kanshi Ram’s All-India Backward (SC/ST & OBC) and Minority Community Employees Federation (BAMCEF), contested its first State election in 1989 and won less than 10 per cent of the vote and 13 seats. Tamil actor Vijaykanth’s party, the DMDK, contested nearly all the seats in the 2006 Assembly election and won just one seat and less than 10 per cent of the vote.

Closest to the AAP in its vision and politics is the Lok Satta Party in Andhra Pradesh, founded by former civil servant Jayprakash Narayan. The party contested 246 of Andhra Pradesh’s 294 seats but could get only its founder elected, with a vote share of under two per cent in the State.

“The AAP does deserve credit but we need to be a bit cautious, a bit mellowed in calling the AAP’s performance — if it does well — historic because much bigger things have happened in Indian politics,” Sanjay Kumar, director of National Election Studies at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), told The Hindu.

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