AAP’s Delhi election victory: A vote for development

| Updated on February 12, 2020 Published on February 11, 2020

AAP’s win in Delhi points to voter preference at the local level for credible leadership and governance

Arvind Kejriwal’s stupendous third-term victory in Delhi Assembly elections reflects a clear political trend that both the ruling BJP and the Congress can ignore only at their own peril. The Capital city has reiterated the distinction that the Indian voter has been making between the national and the provincial elections in terms of the issues at hand, as well as the leader and the party they choose. The pattern became distinct from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s dramatic 67 out of 70 seats victory in February 2015 that broke the momentum of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls that had carried the BJP through the Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand Assembly elections in the same year. Subsequently, the BJP posted some sterling victories especially in Uttar Pradesh, Assam and Tripura but lost Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan to the Congress just before the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. The ruling party’s huge win in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls was reversed in favour of the regional players in Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh Assembly elections that were held simultaneously. More recently, the BJP lost Maharashtra and Jharkhand to a coalition of the Congress with regional parties.

The AAP has won decisively on the strength of its education/health/development plank, which prevailed over a high-pitched ideological campaign spearheaded by Home Minister Amit Shah. Shah has presided over the Hindutva push in the BJP’s second term with the repeal of Article 370, creation of the Ramjanmabhoomi trust and the passage of the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act which formed the backbone of the party’s election campaign both in Jharkhand and the Delhi Assembly polls. The BJP’s manifesto in Jharkhand promised to introduce NRC in the State to “curb infiltration” while it went a step forward in Delhi to run a blatantly divisive campaign, trying to leverage the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh to suggest that Kejriwal and the Congress were “pro-minority and pro-Pakistan”.

But this campaign failed to impress the voter who had, just six months back, overwhelmingly polled in favour of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, giving the BJP all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi with a staggering 56.58 per cent vote share. The same voter has shifted towards Kejriwal who is seen to have delivered on the promise of health, education, transport and development. The lesson for the BJP is that minus the prospect of electing Narendra Modi, the voter is under-whelmed by the Hindutva pitch. However, the same voter will gravitate towards the established leadership of Modi if there is no sign of recovery in the Congress which has drawn a blank for a second successive term in a State it ruled for 15 uninterrupted years. In the absence of a credible national leadership in the Congress, Modi’s invincibility remains the BJP’s biggest trump card.

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Published on February 11, 2020
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