The PPP behind the AAP victory in Delhi

The PPP behind the AAP victory in Delhi

Delhi CM and AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal addreses supporters after party's victory in the State Assembly polls, at AAP office in New Delhi, Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020. (PTI Photo)

The hat-trick scored by Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi Assembly polls hinges on three Ps – personality, programme and party.

The results establish Kerjriwal’s credentials as a serious contender in the political arena and the win gives AAP, a relative newbie, a firm footing in Indian politics.

Despite a spirited and combative campaign, the BJP has improved its tally from the abysmal three seats it won in 2015 to eight this time around. This despite top BJP leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah and BJP chief J P Nadda, virtually carpet bombing the state with rallies, meetings and others kinds of campaigns.

The political fortunes of the Congress, which ruled Delhi for 15 consecutive years from 1998 to 2013, was unchanged. It could win no seat in the 2015 Assembly polls and this time too it did not open its account.

Also read: Arch disruptor to governance icon, the Arvind Kejriwal journey

The projection of a clear chief ministerial face in Kejriwal and AAP’s ground level approach to address basic issues – education (through improvement in facility and faculty) in government schools, establishing Mohalla clinics for medical care, free treatment for accident victims, free bus travel for women and free electricity worked better than the highly polarised Muslim-Pakistan centric campaign of the BJP.

Also, Congress’ low vote share (about 4.26 per cent) worked in favour of AAP in a significant way. The latter polled around 53.57 per cent of the votes, almost 15 per cent more than the BJP, a chief factor behind the clear sweep.

The BJP, which was leading in 65 of 70 Assembly seats just eight months ago in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls and won all seven Parliamentary seats, was in a for a shock this time. The party ended up with 39 per cent of the votes, a whopping 17 per cent drop from the 56 per cent it garnered in the general elections.

That Delhi voters chose to vote differently in an Assembly election and a Lok Sabha election was all the more evident in the votes the Congress and AAP got in these elections, all within a span of eight months.

Congress, which had over 22 per cent votes in last Lok Sabha polls, plummeted to less than five percent, while AAP, which had only 18 percent votes, trebled its show, crossing 50 percent mark. Even in comparison to last Assembly polls, Congress plummeted by half from the nearly 10 per cent it had then.

Clearly Delhi voters did not take Congress, whose Chief Minister late Sheila Dikshit is credited for much of infrastructure development in the region, as a serious contender in this election and limited their choice in most seats to AAP and BJP.

The news is very disturbing for the Congress, which may be rejoicing for the time being in the defeat of the BJP. Where a regional party has replaced it from power, the Congress has invariably found it difficult to come back. This is true of Tamil Nadu, where it never returned to power after the rise of Dravidian politics, Uttar Pradesh where it has been in decline since 1985 and many other states where regional players have taken strong roots.

BJP’s aggressive Hindutva-nationalism credo failed to enthuse voters. The party’s target of 45 fizzled out far more than its the 'Mission 75' of neighbouring Haryana and relatively-distant Jharkhand a few months back.

The Delhi results reflect the firming up of an emerging pattern in Indian elections: A vote for Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the Centre is essentially not a vote for BJP in the state. This emerging trend underlines the need for the ruling party to go beyond its over-dependence on Modi’s charisma and Amit Shah’s strategy.

With this victory Kejriwal joins the league of Opposition chief ministers like Biju Patnaik, Mamata Banerjee and K Chandrashekar Rao who have successfully retained their states because of their individual charisma. A hat-trick win for Kejriwal may set off talk of his being a potential prime ministerial face but given past experiences, where AAP’s attempt to extend its ambit of influence beyond Delhi has bombed, it is unlikely that Kejriwal is going to fall for any of these over-ambitious projections glibly.

That said, with Nitish Kumar, the former darling of Opposition parties, having re-joined the NDA bandwagon, Kejriwal has indeed emerged as a key face and will  be a key component of any Opposition grouping.

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