Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has dealt a stunning defeat to the BJP in Delhi assembly elections. This is the third consecutive win for the AAP since it made its debut in electoral politics in 2013. In its first rendezvous with power politics (2013), AAP won 28 seats and formed government with Congress support which lasted only for 49 days. The party, however, made a strong comeback in 2015 assembly elections by winning 67 out of 70-seat House, leaving just three seats for the BJP. Congress drew a blank. AAP almost repeated 2015 victory by winning 62 seats in the latest elections. BJP improved its tally from three to eight. Congress was again pushed to the margins of maintaining its 2015 record of zero seats. For the BJP it was a high stake election as the party has lost power in many states over the past one year despite winning parliamentary elections thumpingly. Rajasthan, MP, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and more recently Jharkhand are some of the key states where BJP was edged out of power by its rivals, mainly Congress. BJP was desperate to win Delhi to arrest its declining political hegemony. The last time BJP has won assembly election in the union capital was in 1993 after it (Delhi) was accorded semi-state status. It had then won 49 seats. BJP made a clean sweep of Delhi in parliamentary elections, last year. To maintain continuity, BJP put in all its resources at its command to win the assembly elections. While the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and home minister Amit Shah were the star campaigners for the BJP, around 200 of its MPs, central ministers and chief minister of various states also campaigned for the party. It was the most bitterly fought election the country has ever seen with BJP heavily depending on its nationalistic and polarizing political pitch. One of the BJP leaders compared the elections as India-Pakistan match. Some other BJP leaders made utterances like Desh ke gaddaro ko, goli maaro s**lo ko, Boli se nahi manega toh goli se toh maan hi jayega, Ye log aapke ghar mein ghusenge, behen betiyo ko rape karenge. All this sloganeering and smearing was made against the backdrop of street protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA). Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh where protesters have been camping on a public road 24×7 since the passage of the law on December 12 has become the epicenter of opposition to the CAA.
One should give full credit to Arvind Kejriwal who kept cool even in serious provocations. One of the BJP ministers even called him a “terrorist”. Kejriwal rather remained stuck to positive campaign and his “Kaam ki sarkar”. He sought people to vote for him and his party for the work they did in the past five years. AAP is credit with providing quality education, affordable healthcare, and free water and electricity to the people of Delhi. He asked people to vote him and his party only if they thought that the AAP was good at governance. This struck a very chord among voters who put their weight behind Kejriwal. This is for the first time many years that people have voted any party to power merely on its performance. What added to the credibility of the AAP is also the clean image its ministers enjoyed. AAP was born out of a anti corruption campaign begun by senior social leader Anna Hazare of which Arvind Kejriwal was an important part. The victory has not only given a boost to the AAP to strengthen its position further but would also help its expansion plans. The election has a serious message for the BJP as well that common people care more about needs of their daily life. They want the government to deliver. Mere slogan shouting is not enough to get them along.