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Post-Delhi Poll Sweep, AAP's Governance Model May Gain More Acceptance among Other State Govts

For the BJP, the message from the election is clear — hate polity and divisive agenda cannot will not help beyond a certain point and the party has to perform eventually.

Mohd Naushad Khan |

Updated:February 12, 2020, 11:17 PM IST
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Post-Delhi Poll Sweep, AAP's Governance Model May Gain More Acceptance among Other State Govts
AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal addresses the crowd at the party office in New Delhi on Tuesday. (Twitter/AAP)

In the national capital’s bitterly fought electoral contest, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) managed to score a hat-trick by banking squarely on performance, development and governance. The citizens of Delhi have rejected the BJP’s campaign of hate and nationalist rhetoric.

All political parties would have to realise sooner rather than later that there can be no substitute for good governance. If the Delhi verdict becomes the benchmark for development politics, it would be the best thing to happen to the country and its democracy.

For the BJP, the message from the election is clear — hate polity and divisive agenda cannot will not help beyond a certain point and the party has to perform eventually. Mere political jargon and illusionary rhetoric will no longer entice the voter if it is not backed by performance on the ground.

From here onward, the BJP will have to execute the slogan of ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’ and ‘Sabka Vishwas’ on the ground in the truest sense.

The people of Delhi have once again displayed their political maturity and voted for the governance model of AAP. They also voted against the worst kind of hate campaign ever witnessed in the political history of Delhi.

In contrast to the volatile and charged atmosphere built up during the run-up to the election, the AAP remained positive and focused. Kejriwal and his team managed to either evade or smartly downplay the BJP’s bitter political onslaught.

Noted social and human right activist John Dayal said, “It certainly is a local defeat for (Narendra) Modi-(Amit) Shah and their focus on the Islamophobic Shaheen Bagh political liturgy. Like other residents of the national capital, I understand why Kejriwal kept focusing on schools, electricity and health. Very little else is under his control. It is a part of his campaign strategy not to confront the duo on their core issue of religious nationalism. It shows the AAP’s reluctance to evolve an ideological appeal for itself.”

However, he said the trend of voting for AAP during the Assembly elections and for Modi in the parliamentary polls may not be a healthy one.

“In many constituencies, everyone seemed satisfied with the argument that they vote AAP for the Assembly and stick to Modi for the Lok Sabha elections. This is not healthy for the nation, even though it might seem very good for the people of the national capital,” he added.

The Congress, which had ruled Delhi for 15 years under late Sheila Dikshit, has been decimated completely and, for the second time, failed to open its account. As many as 63 of its candidate lost their deposits and the party received only 4.2% votes, down from 9.7% in 2015 and 24.55% in 2013.

Senior journalist and political commentator Neerja Chowdhury said the message from voters is quite clear. “It is clear that AAP has received votes for its work. This is a very important message for political parties and their leaders. Earlier, there was an impression that emotive issues, religion, caste and nationalism pay a political dividend and people generally don’t vote on performance or the work done by the parties,” she said.

Regarding AAP’s campaign strategy, Chowdhury said, “It did not fall into the Hindu-Muslim, India-Pakistan and national security trap of the BJP and cleverly downplayed the saffron camp’s bid to create an impression that AAP is a pro-Muslim party after (Deputy Chief Minister) Manish Sisodia declared he stood by the protesters at Shaheen Bagh. The party was able to balance itself in the eyes of Hindu and Muslim voters through a smart political language, posturing and counter-narrative — a case in point is Kejriwal’s reciting of the Hanuman Chalisa.”

“The development narrative and governance model built by Kejriwal is most likely to be emulated by other political parties and states in the days to come. Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren is presently studying AAP’s educational model. Rajasthan ministers, Maharashtra’s Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar and even some BJP CMs are likely to follow the model in their states,” she said.

Afroz Alam, associate professor and head of political science department at Maulana Azad National Urdu University, said there were clear indications from the beginning that AAP will get a majority.

“Every election is different. Some were expecting the unexpected, while others tried to send shock waves. Early inclinations and predispositions of the voters had made things clear about the Delhi election. Barring a miracle, AAP was likely to get a majority. Equally important is that voters of Delhi have clearly said no to the BJP’s vitriolic campaign,” he said.

“However, the BJP’s campaign has had some impact as reflected in its increasing vote share and victory in a few more seats. But AAP’s strategy to focus on constituency-specific issues, its five years of work along with a religious tint worked in its favour. Another importantly, there was very little enthusiasm among voters this time unlike what was seen in 2015 and 2019. The turnout was low. A majority of voters are decided on their choice. The percentage of swing voters was limited to 20 per cent. Above all, Delhi has experienced a case of ‘retrospective voting (performance-based voting)," said Alam.

(The author is a freelance journalist. Views expressed are personal.)

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