Riding on its development agenda, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party has registered another resounding victory in the Delhi assembly elections. Contrary to what was being claimed, the Bharatiya Janata Party couldn’t do much despite its high-pitched and star-studded election campaign which is blamed for trying every dirty trick in the book. And the grand old party of Indian politics, the Congress, has yet again been virtually decimated in a city it had ruled for three consecutive terms under Sheila Dikshit.
The elections in the national capital took place in the midst of massive protests in the city and elsewhere over the new citizenship law (Citizenship Amendment Act or CAA), the National Register of Citizens (NRC) and the National Population Register (NPR). The high-voltage campaign between the ruling AAP and the BJP which preceded the February 08 elections, and the subsequent results have thrown up many takeaways for the general public, and more so for the political parties – major one being that politics of hate has a very limited shelf-life and no one could milk the baser sentiments of the ordinary people forever.
The AAP’s victory in Delhi assembly polls has actually also brought the focus on how elections could be won even without resorting to hate campaigns, without name calling, and by rather remaining focused on what is achievable in terms of public welfare and development. Indeed this is exactly what AAP did. Instead of getting sucked into the polarizing politics (for instance over the anti-CAA protests continuing in Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh and elsewhere) its campaign remained focused on all the “good work” party had done during its previous tenure in education as well as the health sector, highlighting the classrooms and schools with swimming polls and the Mohalla clinics.
While AAP government strongly positioned on local issues, BJP tried to fight this election on nationalism and national issues. The subject of CAA, removal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir regularly featured during BJP leader’s campaign speeches. Entire BJP campaign was also driven by the national leadership of home minister Amit Shah and party president J P Nadda. The party workers too relied too much on the magic of national leadership. A number of BJP leaders also made provocative election speeches during the campaign and Parvesh Verma, Anurag Thakur and Kapil Mishra were banned by the Election Commission for such campaign speeches. This also didn’t get well with the voters. Parvesh Verma lost all the assembly constituencies in his Lok Sabha seat.
It was high pitch campaign from the BJP side with party putting in all available arsenal at its disposal. Despite that BJP couldn’t win hearts of Delhi populace. In the end it turned out that Delhi voters chose not to go with the politics of hate and exclusion over highly emotive issues and preferred a government which has promised to work on their basis amenities. This could possibly mark a big shift in the Indian politics – provided various political parties and groupings are receptive enough to heed, acknowledge and appreciate what people of Delhi have just said in no uncertain terms. Should it happen, then of course besides being a victory for the AAP, the Delhi election results would also be a huge victory for entire India and its political culture in general and electoral politics in particular.