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How the AAP won, with the help of BJP | Opinion – analysis


The enormous influence of Delhi on national politics bothers people outside the city. Many political analysts see the emphatic victory of Arvind Kejriwal as one more opportunity for it to emerge on the national scene, even though Delhi has only 14 million voters and seven members of Parliament. It is not known whether Kejriwal emerges as a serious challenger of the virtually hegemonic control of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) over national politics, but his success in defending his fortress in Delhi needs to be understood, even if a binary election has the effect of exaggerate the winning margin.

The great success of Kejriwal is somewhat surprising if you observe the performance of his party in the last two elections in Delhi, the municipal elections in 2017 and the elections of Lok Sabha in mid-2019. In both, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) It worked miserably and the BJP had a clean sweep, with even greater margins than before.

The victory of the AAP, therefore, goes against the flow. It can be argued that, although the BJP similarly swept the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Delhi, winning not only the seven seats, but also leading in 60 segments of the assembly, the AAP swept the assembly elections held only nine months later. However, there are differences between the two situations.

One, although he led only in 10 segments of the assembly in the 2014 elections, the AAP obtained almost 33% of the votes, while the BJP obtained 46%. The gap widened substantially in 2019, with the participation of AAP votes in only 18%, while that of BJP shot up to 54%, a substantial advantage. Even Congress did better with more than 22% of the votes in 2019, being second in five of the seven seats. What was particularly worrying for the AAP was that it was second only in two electoral districts, and three of its candidates lost their deposits.

The second important change was that in 2015, the AAP was the challenger, not tested but full of enthusiasm, while, this time, he was the headline, tested his promise of good governance. And this is what has produced large dividends for Kejriwal. By focusing on only a few areas: electricity prices, free water, schools and health problems, the AAP has looked much better than its rivals.

Objectively speaking, performance in these areas is uneven and at the expense of long-term growth, but its approach seems to hit the right notes with the electorate. The fact that the vast majority of students who fail in class 9 are now expelled from the system means that the percentage of approval at board levels has increased, albeit at the expense of the poor first-generation student. But some of the best performing government schools have been fixed and exposed to improved pedagogies, which has added to the image of better school performance.

Similarly, in health, the numbers of mohalla The clinics established in three years are less than the goal set in the first year, and their performance is often poor. Similarly, the main government hospitals have seen a shortage that prevented operating rooms from working for long periods, but the overall image was one of innovation and sincerity. What has helped Kejriwal is that with the effective privatization of health and school education, large segments of vocal and active voters are not users of government facilities, and have not seen the changes themselves, but rather follow the prevailing narrative. Kejriwal’s ability to communicate directly with people, without going through the role of bureaucracy, has also attracted him to voters.

More importantly, its success in minimizing the effect of national problems by accepting the Modi government in Article 370 and the Citizenship (Amendment) Law meant that charges of pleasing “anti-nationals” did not cut the ice with voters .

This AAP position also allowed BJP voters to probe for Kejriwal without feeling that they were compromising their nationalist ideology. The equivocal position of the AAP on Shaheen Bagh, and other matters considered close to Muslims, did not harm minorities. During the parliamentary elections, the AAP was not seen as a viable opposition to the BJP and, therefore, Muslims voted for Congress in considerable numbers. This time, they recognized that it was the AAP that could stop the BJP, not the dying Congress.

The BJP of Delhi, on the other hand, has nothing to offer the voters of Delhi. He has not seen power at the state level since 1998, and the performance of the three municipal agencies he directs is not satisfactory. In fact, its credibility is so low that in the last municipal elections, the BJP replaced all the councilors in office. Unfortunately for them, this did not lead to better performance with the municipal agencies still seen as corrupt and ineffective. What worked against the BJP is also the attitude of the Delhi voter who trusts Modi, as shown in 2014 and 2019, but feels that Kejriwal is a better bet at the local level.

The challenge to Kejriwal will be how to maintain this culture of subsidies in the absence of capital investments in health, education and infrastructure, something that Sheila Dikshit could do so well for 10 years (2003-2013) because it could save ~ 20,000 crores in subsidy payments . due to the privatization of the electricity supply. This cushion is no longer available.

Shakti Sinha is a former director of the Nehru Memorial Museum and Library. He retired as secretary

in the government of Delhi.

The opinions expressed are personal.

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