Party chief Kejriwal has come to Kumar’s defence. “Kumar is my younger brother. Some people are trying to drive a wedge between us. They are the enemies of the party. They should refrain. No one can separate us,” he tweeted. Vishwas retweeted Kejriwal’s tweet.
But the loss in the civic polls has rattled Kejriwal. More than the number of seats, it was the precipitous fall in the party’s vote share that has the party leadership shaking. The AAP got 26.23 per cent, which is half of the 54.30 per cent it bagged in the 2015 assembly polls that it had swept by winning 67 of Delhi’s 70 assembly seats.
Interestingly, it wasn’t the BJP but the Congress and smaller parties that have gained at AAP’s expense. The Congress increased its vote share to 21.09 per cent in the recent civic polls. This is up from the 9.8 per cent in the 2015 assembly polls.
Smaller parties – the Janata Dal (United), Bahujan Samaj Party, Swaraj Abhiyan, and others – and independents together bagged as much as 16.6 per cent of votes. Of this, independents got 8.44 per cent.
The BJP’s vote share in the recent Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls was 36.08 per cent. It was an improvement on its vote share in the 2013 and 2015 assembly polls, where it got 33.07 per cent and 32.02 per cent, respectively. However, the party couldn’t match up to its vote share of 46.4 per cent in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.
This is where BJP isn’t keen that a split in AAP should lead to fresh assembly polls. A coming together of opposition parties for another round of polls could embarrass BJP, although chances of AAP and Congress coming together do not look bright.
But BJP is likely to wait for its opportunity, which would come if 21 of AAP legislators are disqualified in the ‘office of profit’ case. This would lead to bypolls on these seats, and the game would be seriously afoot if BJP were to win a majority of these seats.
According to BJP sources, there are more than a dozen AAP legislators that might defect to form a new party.
All of this is some months away. But can Kejriwal by then build bridges with others in the opposition space, particularly the Congress?