Politics is shifting to the center-right. Delhi proves it | Opinion – analysis
Delhi is a riddle wrapped in a puzzle for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Everything related to the city makes it a natural territory of BJP: it is largely urban; it has a considerable population of middle class and upper caste; many families trace their roots to Pakistan prior to partition; and the level of education and media exposure of the average voter in Delhi is high. All these groups are more likely to vote for the BJP. In addition, this is where the party obtained its first great electoral success in the way of running the municipal government under the leadership of LK Advani in the 1960s. The party also won the elections, and then completed a five-year term in the government when Delhi was granted a legislative assembly in 1993. However, since then, the party has performed exceptionally in the elections of Lok Sabha (and in the municipal elections). ), it has always gone wrong during assembly surveys.
Why do Delhi voters dodge the BJP in the assembly elections? After the rather infamous defeat of the party due to the rise in onion prices in 1998, then-BJP Prime Minister Sushma Swaraj, who resumed his position two months before the elections, returned to national politics. Since then, the BJP has never been able to develop a leader with a massive city-state base. The party may have leaders representing their specific communities or their respective locations, but they are not as tall as the late Sheila Dikshit or Arvind Kejriwal, who could simultaneously attract the rich, the middle classes and the poor. The diversity of Delhi requires a charismatic leader who can connect with migrants, resonate in the villages of Delhi and fulfill the aspirations of those who live in upper-class locations.
The Aam Aadmi (AAP) party must celebrate this deserved victory. The party had not won a single election since 2015 and, therefore, in many ways, this election was a battle of life or death. The party had lost in the elections to the assembly of Punjab in 2017, had a poor performance in the municipal elections of Delhi and was in third place in five of the seven seats during the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
He executed a positive campaign, highlighting his performance in improving the quality of government schools and mohalla clinics, which provide subsidized water and electricity, and ensure free public transportation for women. He stayed away from making this election a personality contest between Narendra Modi and Kejriwal, or challenging the ideological narrative established by the BJP leadership.
The BJP can console itself with the fact that it managed to increase its participation in the vote and, less significantly, its number of seats. However, he must realize the limits of an acute campaign on the ideological board of the party. This can keep the cadre excited, but it is unlikely to attract intermediate voters to the party fold. This constituency seeks more: credible leadership, government performance, provision of public services and access to public servants. In the absence of this, ideologically neutral and non-partisan voters will maximize their calculation and divide their loyalties: vote Modi and the BJP for Lok Sabha, and Kejriwal and the AAP for the assembly elections. This is the most relevant electoral trend in India after 2019.
Should the result be seen as a rejection of the ideological platform of the BJP? It is natural for opposition parties and civil society activists to paint the overwhelming victory of the AAP in Delhi as a denial of the BJP’s position on the issue of the Citizenship Law (Amendment) -N National Registry of Citizens- National Population Registry, and its position in the protest sites. like Shaheen Bagh. The failure of the BJP in these elections should not be considered a referendum on these issues. The AAP did not campaign or challenge the BJP on its ideological platform. Neither the AAP assumed the leadership of Modi nor took firm positions on the riots at Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia or Shaheen Bagh. It is possible that the AAP has been forced to adopt an electorally pragmatic stance, but somehow, the victory of the party has brought the fulcrum of Indian politics more to the center-right.
Recent opinion polls suggest that a significant number of voters who supported the AAP in these elections support the ideological point of view of the BJP. The AAP won by complying with governance, offered more credible leadership to voters and did not challenge the ideological vision of the world of the middle voter in Delhi. A soft line on religion (which supports the religious practices of the majority community), which plays in the same nationalist field (an aggressive national security board), with a strong dose of populist welfare, is likely to be the new normal in the Indian politics This certainly emerges as a solid template for non-BJP parties to mount an electoral challenge to the BJP in the states. Without a doubt, every electoral setback will be added to a great narrative against Modi and Interior Minister Amit Shah. This will affect the perceived invincibility of the BJP and will raise doubts about the effectiveness of the party’s organizational machine and the advantage of resources, and the agility of its leadership. The BJP now urgently needs a new script to win the state elections.
Rahul Verma is a member of the Policy Research Center (CPR), New Delhi.
The opinions expressed are personal.