New Delhi: The comprehensive drubbing that the Aam Aadmi Party has handed out to the BJP and the Congress in the Delhi assembly elections is mind-boggling. Naturally, several factors have contributed to the result and it would be foolhardy for both parties to find scapegoats for their crushing defeats.
The victory of AAP is a triumph of superior strategizing and meticulous planning. It is a lesson in how a party that was down and out only eight months ago when it was mauled by the BJP in each of the seven Lok Sabha seats resurrected itself in such a short time. Indians are by temperament a forgiving people. Using that to his advantage, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal apologized to the people of Delhi at every available opportunity for having thrown in the towel after just 49 days that his government was in office. With that he won the hearts of the people and took the wind out of the sails of those who were mocking at them for leaving office after such a short stint.
Arvind Kejriwal himself took a head start in the campaign by announcing his chief ministerial candidature weeks before his rivals did. The BJP, on the other hand, dilly dallied on whether to name Harsh Vardhan or Satish Upadhyaya and finally sprung a surprise by announcing Kiran Bedi who had no prior exposure to politics and made a few blunders in the initial days.
The impression that came through was that to the BJP high command local leaders did not matter and whatever Prime Minister Modi and party chief Amit Shah decided had to be accepted without demur as the best course. The arrogance of the duo came through clearly. That was reason enough for the cadres to sulk and brood and the Modi-Amit Shah duo was blind to the anger of the cadres.
The BJP had been hoping to exploit the groundswell of positivity that they calculated would emerge from US President Barack Obama’s visit to New Delhi but the tactical blunder of not inviting Arvind Kejriwal to the Republic Day parade and the mocking tone in which Kiran Bedi reacted on this issue did not go down well with Delhi’s electorate. To make matters worse, the more the media highlighted Narendra Modi’s formal suit with his name printed on when he met Obama, the more Kejriwal went about as a ‘muffler man’ to reflect his ‘aam aadmi’ status. Clearly, Modi lost out to Kejriwal as a man of the masses.
The incidents of vandalism in some Delhi churches, the failure to reprimand those who started the ‘ghar wapsi’ campaign against the minorities alienated the minorities completely from the BJP.
As for the Congress which has ended up winning no seat it was more of the same Sonia-Rahul arrogance on display.
There are lessons to be learnt for both the BJP and the Congress. For the AAP there are promises to be kept which is a daunting task in an election in which the common man has been promised the moon.