New Delhi: On Tuesday afternoon, as it became clear that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would return to power in Delhi with a brute majority, a different debate was brewing hot on social media. With a screenshot of vote-share of parties taken from the Election Commission of India’s (ECI) website, several people claimed that the NOTA (None of the Other) option, apparently, secured more votes than both the Left parties — Communist Party of India (CPI) and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM) — combined in the Delhi assembly elections.
While the claim was indeed true, it had a faulty premise.
NOTA secured more than 43,000 or 0.46 per cent of the total valid votes polled in the Delhi elections compared with a combined vote-share of 0.03 per cent of the CPI and CPM. However, what was overlooked by many was that the two left parties contested just three seats each and, therefore, the comparison of their vote-share with NOTA votes was unfair.
The comparison, instead, should have been made with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
Once considered a rising force and an alternative to the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Congress in Delhi, the BSP was reduced to 0.71 per cent of vote-share despite contesting 68 assembly seats in the national capital. While this is more than the total NOTA votes cast, the Mayawati-led party secured fewer votes than NOTA in as many as 32 assembly seats or nearly half the constituencies the BSP fielded its candidates in.
BSP was seen as the next big challenge to the duopoly of the BJP and the Congress in local politics. Then came the Aam Aadmi Party.
AAP’s debut in Delhi politics in the 2013 assembly elections following the ‘India Against Corruption’ movement came as a setback for the BSP. The newly formed AAP was received well by the people of Delhi. It won 28 seats in the 70-seat strong house and nearly 30 per cent of the votes in its very first outing.
BSP, on the other hand, was reduced to 5.44 per cent of vote-share and zero seats. The decimation continued in 2015 when it garnered just 1.31 per cent of votes and eventually to 0.7 per cent in the polls concluded on Tuesday.
Analysts argue that the Arvind Kejriwal brand of politics and the perception of AAP as a potent and viable alternative to both Congress and the BJP led to a majority of BSP’s core voters — backward castes — to shift to the AAP.
There’s no denying that the BSP’s fortunes have diminished across the country over the past few years. However, whether its abysmal performance in the 2020 Delhi assembly polls would prove to be an end of the BSP in the national capital is something only time will tell.