Technically speaking, there are at present only three national parties in India: BJP, Congress, CPI(M). So, in a way, Jaitely is correct that the Federal Front of regional parties as being proposed by Manta Banerjee shall not have a national appeal. For the same reason, Nitish Kumar is also correct that no anti-BJP front can rise at the national level without the Congress and the Left. But both of them are discounting the prospects of the AAP especially after the way they acquired Delhi. The criteria for being recognized as national party are as follows:
— The party has won 2 per cent of seats in the Lok Sabha (11 seats) from at least three different states in the latest general election.
— In an election to the Lok Sabha or Legislative Assembly, the party has polled 6 per cent of the total valid votes in at least four states, in addition to winning four Lok Sabha seats.
— A party has got recognition as a state party in at least four states.
Out of the above, the AAP can fulfill only the second criterion before 2019, for neither will it get 11 seats in Lok Sabha by 2019 nor will it get recognition as a state party in four states as five year operation in the state concerned is a qualifying criteria for being recognized as a state party. So, the only criterion it can satisfy is the second criterion.
The target states for the AAP are Punjab, UP, Goa and Uttarkhand. It has already polled far more than 6% votes in Delhi, and is expected to poll substantial vote share in Punjab as well. Today, they have shown their intention to contest Goa. Goa is a small state; the AAP may easily get 6% vote share there. And I think the next they will target Uttarkhand, which is also a small state and thus an easy target. Had they targeted Haryana, things would have become much easier for them, and even Swaraj Abhiyan wouldn’t have arisen. Anyways, they have four MPs from Punjab, for, I think, they have not yet expelled the dissenting MPs. So, unless the dissenting MPs themselves leave the party and join some other party — which is highly unlikely unless Swaraj Abhiyan decides to float a party and fight the Punjab elections, which they can indeed do if nothing else than to deny the AAP the national party status — the AAP will easily get a national party status before 2019. So, if the BJP is thinking it would be easy going for Modi in 2019, they are highly mistaken. If the AAP in general and Kejriwal in particular mend their ways and stop being frivolous, they can over smart Modi in the next general election, which I think the Congress can’t do, however much they try.
In fact, had Prashant Bhushan’s idea succeeded, they would have become a national party long ago. Ironically, it is the same formula which will make them a national party before the next general election, for without that formula they wouldn’t have got 4 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab. But, once again ironically, their fate as a national party lies in Prashant Bhushan’s hands: He just has to float a political party and fight Punjab election to deny them the national party status — never discount a lawyer.