The landslide message
The Modi juggernaut received a massive blow. Though the victory of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was anticipated, more than the result, its magnitude matters a lot not just for Delhi but for national political scene.
The Modi juggernaut received a massive blow. Though the victory of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) was anticipated, more than the result, its magnitude matters a lot not just for Delhi but for national political scene. The defeat of the BJP is significant due to its range and depth. Despite many mistakes, Arvind Kejriwal made a remarkable comeback. The Delhi verdict fits into a national trend. People across the country voted for any party that can present as a credible alternative to Congress and the BJP. This is true in Telangana, Tamil Nadu, Odisha, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and now in Delhi.
AAP’s remarkable victory represents tremendous displeasure of people with the prevailing political culture. The voters of Delhi proved that popular mandate cannot always be manufactured through mere strategising and political manoeuvering. Attempts to split AAP proved to be counter-productive for BJP. Politics of politico-religious mobilisation will not work in the long run. The BJP called Kejriwal anarchist and naxalite. A person no less than the Prime Minister joined this individual centric hate campaign. But, Delhi electorate rejected with vengeance politics of individual character assassination.
The AAP revived the volunteerism in politics which was the uniqueness of the Left and the BJP. Interestingly, the BJP relying on “imported leaders” lost this uniqueness to an extent.
No state elections can be interpreted as a referendum on the Centre. But, it was the BJP which converted the Delhi elections into a referendum on Narendra Modi. The BJP made this election into an unprecedented show of money and political power against Aam Aadmi. More than 40 cabinet ministers, 160 MPs backed by massive advertising projecting Modi, were unleashed on Delhi electorate. But, AAP could counter all this with grassroots participatory politics.
The AAP campaign was without any name calling and hate campaign. It was a positive and constructive agenda presented by AAP in a tangible manner that yielded such a massive support from the people.
The Delhi result should make BJP realise that people would no longer accept the gap between promise and performance. The BJP came to power in 2014 by invoking development agenda and aspirational politics. But, the over seven months of Modi rule saw the fringe elements in the party occupying centre stage and provoking a divisive agenda on the questions of religion, population control and other issues. Kiran Bedi’s failure to deliver reveals that political fortunes cannot be changed through plastic surgery for the party.
The Delhi elections cannot be dismissed as an outcome in small part of the country that doesn’t have a status of even full statehood. Within a few months after an inspiring win, the BJP lost all the ground it has gained in Delhi then. The Delhi mandate would be a big morale booster for all those who want to contain BJP at a time when the Congress is still crippled. However, each state election has its own dynamics. Any hasty generalisations shall prove to be wrong.