Activist-turnedpolitician Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) stormed back to power in Delhi, winning 62 of 70 seats in a bitterly fought election that saw him successfully take on the Bharatiya Janata Party’s might and its strong Hindu nationalist pitch with his ‘Kaam Ki Rajneeti’ campaign.
Delhi voted for the AAP overwhelmingly a third time, giving the BJP a big shock after it had won all the seven parliamentary seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. With 62 seats, AAP accounted for 53.6% of votes, a tad less than its 54.3% record of 2015.
While the BJP improved its seat tally marginally from three in 2015 to eight on Tuesday, its vote share went up by more than 6% — from 32.2% in 2015 to 38.51%. The Congress, which had ruled Delhi for 15 years, drew a blank with its vote share slipping from 9.7% to 4.3%.
“In this victory, a new politics has emerged — kaam ki rajneeti (politics of development). Delhi’s electorate has given a message: We would vote for the party that builds schools and mohalla clinics, that gives us 24-hour power supply… It is a new type of politics. This is a
for the country. It is only this politics that will take India into the 21st century,” Kejriwal said in his victory address at the AAP headquarters. After his victory speech, Kejriwal went to Hanuman Mandir in Connaught Place, an indication that the chief minister had taken the BJP’s Hindutva challenge head-on.
AAP Campaign Focused on Development
“Today is Tuesday — Hanuman ji’s day. He has showered His blessings on us. I pray that He keeps showing us the way,” Kejriwal said.
The fine print of Kejriwal’s victory shows that a lot of effort went into keeping the campaign uncluttered and focused on his development pitch even as AAP remained tactically silent to the BJP’s provocations.
Kejriwal steered clear of personally attacking Modi or home minister Amit Shah. He shed all pretensions of a national leader and projected himself as “Dilli ka beta”, who had worked for the aam aadmi by providing bijli-paani-swaasthya.
As a result, local issues such as improvement of government schools, mohalla clinics and free water scored over Hindu nationalist sentiments.
Incidentally, AAP won all the 10 Muslim-dominated constituencies, including Okhla, where Shaheen Bagh was the epicentre of anti-Citizenship Amendment Act protests. The constituency had set the tone for the BJP’s campaign as the party’s leaders tried to drum up religious sentiments. On January 25, Shah had said in a programme, “Kamal ke button ko itni zor se dabana ki us button ke current se hi February 8 ki shaam ko Shaheen Bagh waale uth kar chale jayein.”
Kejriwal, however, refused to be drawn into this debate. He reasserted his Hindu identity by visiting temples while expressing support to anti-CAA protesters and students of JNU through social media alone.
SHIFT IN MUSLIM VOTE
The results show that the Muslim vote shifted completely from the Congress to AAP. A glaring example of this consolidation is the BJP’s Jagdish Pradhan, who had won from Muslim-dominated Mustafabad in 2015 but lost by a margin of 20,704 votes on Tuesday.
In the runup to Delhi’s elections, BJP had tried to take on Kejriwal on his “vote kaam ko” call. The BJP-led government promised ownership rights to residents of unauthorised colonies, hoping to tap into Kejriwal’s dedicated vote bank. But midway, the BJP decided to pitch a nationalism plank.
Kejriwal’s entire Cabinet won with decisive margins. Despite the early scare, deputy CM Manish Sisodia, who is credited with education reforms of the AAP government, pulled through in his home turf of Patparganj. Durgesh Pathak, Kejriwal’s confidant and the youngest member of the party’s political affairs committee, was the only big upset, as he lost by 8,223 votes in Karawal Nagar.