The landslide victory of AAP in Delhi has left all political pundits stunned. There are many explanations and analyses doing rounds. From victory of secularism to BJP’s strategic failures all issues are discussed and debated in TV studios and web world. What is missing in it is the subtle messages that are hidden in the systemic issues of Indian polity and puzzles that are still unsolved in this massive win. Already questions are raised about the politics of freebees initiated by Kejriwal. In the coming days, the real issue to observe is how far experiment of AAP takes up the uphill task of fulfilling unrealistic promises it has made. Organiser tried to address all these issues.
No fight between designer dress and muffler or between a ‘Chaiwalla’ and former IRS officer. It is a democracy where one adopted populist agenda, burden on exchequer and other promised nothing but ideology of good governance. People voted in favour of experiment to see how the populist agenda will be fulfilled in a sustained manner, not bothering with statistics of economic fundamentals of Delhi Government, really which is not a cup of tea for common men.
The Questions that are Unanswered
After Kejriwal’s victory, many theories and analyses are coming up, still there are many questions that are unexplored. Here are 10 questions on the mandate and aftermath.
The most important factor that led to landslide victory of AAP is the complete decimation of Congress and BSP from Delhi’s political landscape. AAP occupied that space. Delhi, otherwise not even a full state, has always been very sensitive towards power corridors. Anti-corruption movement captured those sensitivities. BJP’s attack on Kejriwal revived that feeling of attack on ‘common man’ aspiring for share in power, which rallied fringe voters in his favour.
Not really, simply because Delhi elections were fought on a totally different plank. People of Delhi voted more on municipal issues rather than national issues. The same Delhites voted for Modi as PM eight months back. It is more of a vote of Kejriwal as a CM rather than against Modi government. Many organisational, strategic and tactical issues were involved in this election. The history of Delhi elections show that whenever BJP fought in a triangular fight, it was in advantageous position. This time neither Congress nor BSP could retain that third pole, which resulted into BJP’s loss. This is to do more with arithmetic of first post past system rather than mandate for Modi government. The only concern for BJP is though it has retained its around 33% vote share, 13% additional votes it had garnered during Lok Sabha elections could not be retained.
AAP has been working on ground since the anti-corruption days. It applied the strategy of door to door campaign and conveyed its freebies agenda very well. Not all people got convinced on his promises but there is chuck of voters who thought of exploring option as an experiment.
Partially, yes. BJP has been facing this problem for some time with the changing socio-economic profile of Delhi. Growing urbanisation and large-scale migration has transformed the nature of civic issues of the National Capital Region. Delhi, conventionally BJPs stronghold since Jan Sangh days has failed to transform itself with the aspirations of this changing society in the capital.
With the advent of electronic media, it has been a crucial factor in all democratic societies. In India with multiparty democracy, it is a very crucial element in communicating your views to large number of voters. Modi was attacked during the 2014 General Elections but he used the space very tactically to appeal to the masses. Kejriwal did the same with fair amount of support from media who was looking for chance to target Modi government in the last 8 months.
In Delhi, yes. One important aspect from Delhi Assembly poll is the voting of minorities particularly of Muslims for the AAP. But AAP is not the natural choice for voting of Muslims. In Delhi Muslims voted for AAP as the Congress Party was not in the race against BJP. So in order to defeat the BJP the Muslims have voted for AAP. It may not be true in states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal etc where they have a option of other leaders. Kejriwal used all opportunities to project himself as a ‘secular’ leader and polarised communal environment in the best possible manner for himself. From Batla House to mysterious attacks on Church, all incidents were used to create phobia among minorities.
AAP still is at a nascent stage to be a national player. It has halted BJPs dream run started in May 2014. But it is a more threat to Congress and other regional satraps rather than BJP. More importantly, AAP still lacks organisational network at national level. As a 2 year old party, it will have to sweat it out to be a national player. NGO networks, broad left set-up and intellectuals can provide support to the party in some pockets. If Arvind Kejriwal delivers then in the long run he can become a rallying point for anti-BJPism. Disgruntled opposition especially communists can use him to channelise anti-national discourse.
Congress tried its best bet in the form of Ajay Maken but the reality is Congress has not recovered from the setback of Lok Sabha elections. Still facing the anger of people on dynastic and corruption issues, Congress campaign was completely in disarray. In many places, Congress did not even tried to manage booths through polling agents. Resultantly, barring two constituencies Congress was distant third in all the constituencies.
BSP which was an important player from 1998 Assembly Elections completely lost its vote bank to AAP. BSP’s caste based vote bank has been converted into a class with the freebies promises and broom as symbol. Punjab where BSP has already lost some ground to AAP in Lok Sabha elections will be a testing ground for Mayawati as it will have ramifications for Uttar Pradesh as well.
It is the common man’s anger against the systemic issues and political class is the major reflection in this verdict. Every political party, including AAP, has a lesson from this verdict. Nobody can deny a fact that the AAP has spent huge amount on campaigning which cannot be generated through meager contributions from society. High spending elections and binding on political parties to oblige the money spinners have become the root cause of corruption in India. AAP claims to provide answer to this menace, which is yet to be tested.
On February 10, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) got highest ever majority in terms of strike rate of win in Delhi. The Fallen Hero of not so long ago, Arvind Kejriwal has risen again and became Chief Minister. His Party got 67 out of 70 seats, left barely 3 seats to BJP. He is now not only a Chief Minister but unopposed leader in the House because there is no Opposition at all. In 2013, he tried or successful little bit to redefine the narratives of politics. In 2014, he defied all long guarded political courses and electioneering, time is left to be successful to redefine the politics in terms of delivery.
AAP has increased 24,6% vote share compared to 2013 Assembly election, resultantly got whooping 54.3% vote share in 2015 election and 67 seats. At the same time, BJP lost 1.1% votes share from 2013 election and got 32.2% vote share. It is a miracle of our voting pattern that with 33.3% vote share in 2013, BJP won 31 seats and now with 32.2% vote share, it managed only 3 seats. But more interesting to note the vote shift, not vote swing here. It is clear that 15% votes from Congress and 8.5% votes from others have shifted completely to AAP coupled with 1.1% votes from BJP. So, it is clearer than ever in any election that the weakness of Congress caused increase of vote share for AAP. It seems, Congress supported AAP in 2013 to form the Government with 8 MLAs from outside in the Assembly and now in 2015 it supported the fate of AAP at the Polling Booth level because on the day of Polling, Congress left even the booths and in many constituencies, it did not even appoint its Polling Agents.
The massive win of AAP shows intentional or unintentional move of so-called all secular forces to defeat so-called communal force. It is not only Mamata Banerjee, Nitish Kumar, Lalu Yadav and CPI appeal for AAP but Congress also joined the chorus at the most important level.
Fix priorities then act
It is almost impossible to fulfill the promises that Shri Arvind Kejriwal has made to Delhiites. If we look at the financial condition of Delhi all those promises cannot be materialised. Delhi is Union Territory and it does not have the status of full statehood. It can spend the money that it collects as taxes, but if it spends more than that, it will have to approach the Central Government for extra funds. In that case the Central government will have to think in which head it allocates the funds.
The performance of Congress from 2008 to 2015 shows its sharp decline in Delhi politics since 2009 Parliamentary election. It got 9.7% vote share compared to its position of 24.7% in 2013 Assembly election and 15.2% in 2014 Parliamentary election. At the onset of this year election, it deployed all its top guns in election contest including Ajay Makan, Mahabal Mishra and Kiran Walia but closer to election, Rahul Gandhi focussed on those constituencies where Congress had some chance to win like he did road show in Sultanpur Majra (SC) constituency, which has been bastion of the Party though defeated there too. More closer to election, the top Party leaders did not supply the required fuel and made less motivated all workers. Consequently, almost all its old workers shifted to AAP and those who were remained with the Party did not turn at the booths on the day of Polling. Finally, they deserted Congress and Congress deserted BJP. So, now Kejriwal can not say that BJP and Congress have joined their hands though he is accustomed to admit the same.
No doubt, people have given positive and clear majority, which is healthy sign of mature democracy. However, many political analysts accept that BJP is not defeated by AAP, but BJP lost to AAP. In the election campaign, BJP resorted not to sale the dreams like in Parliamentary election and it remained defensive even at the start when Kejriwal did not have strong attention. Being in defensive mood, it parachuted Kiran Bedi to counter Kejriwal that gave a massage that BJP with its own old leaders accept defeat against Kejriwal. Moreover, it was a very late move like in 2013, the Party announced Dr Harsh Vardhan as CM candidate closer to election, wasted more time to persuade other leaders. In the ticket distribution also, at the midnight of one day before last day of election, BJP announced the ticket in January though AAP has settled all its candidates much before the election schedule announcement.
BJP always awake late in Delhi, in 1998 election, closer to election, it brought Sushma Swaraj and again when the stage was set for already projected CM candidate of 2013, Dr Harsh Vardhan, it announced Kiran Bedi, seemed not trained politically though media is at least powerful enough to shape the minds of people in Delhi. In the media, BJP lost against Kejriwal before election but Party did not take course correction.
Annual Budget of Delhi is about Rs 37,000 crore and according to Kejriwal’s promises, his government needs much more funds than that. There is no mention of how all this extravaganza is going to be funded. Kejriwal too knows this. That is why he said the “victory is scary”. So here is a reality check:
Kejriwal won the ‘heart’ of Delhi youth by offering them free wi-fi connectivity. The government would require Rs 1,500 crore for it. The expenditure on maintenance is extra. PM Modi has recently converted Sheetala Ghat and Dashashvamedha Ghat of Banaras into free wi-fi zone. He spent Rs 100 crore on it. It has a limit. One can only use free wi-fi only for 30 minutes. After that one will require Rs 20 for every 30 minutes, Rs 30 for further 60 minutes, Rs 50 for 120 minutes and Rs 70 for the whole day.
Kejriwal promised to provide 700 litre free water to each family. If the family uses more than this limit it will have to pay full bill. If we look at the consumption of a family of five persons this limit proves useless as the requirement is more than that. In this situation this promises is not going to benefit majority population.
During the Parliamentary election rally in Delhi, Shri Modi declared that he had Three ‘Vijays’ in Delhi: Vijay Goel, Vijendra Gupta and Vijay Kumar Malhotra in Delhi BJP. The 3 Vijays along with Dr Harsh Vardhan are the four top BJP leaders were upset at being upstaged and they command huge respect among the BJP's Delhi cadres. It seems now BJP paid the cost if its rank and file didn't work to win this Assembly election.
BJP Depressed, not Distressed
There are many firsts in this election. For the first time Congress has completely been wiped out with zero representation in a State where it was ruling consecutively for the last 15 years just 14 months back. 62 of its candidates lost their security deposit even. Congress could emerge a runner-up only in four seats. In rest of the seats BJP was the number two. For the first time BJP had been reduced to just 3 seats in Delhi where it ruled for a number of terms. Again, there is no independent MLA in the House. Out of 67 successful AAP candidates 45 won their seats by a margin of 20,000 or more votes.
Aam Aadmi’s of AAP
41 of its total 67 elected MLAs are crorepatis and 23 have criminal cases against them
The name is the Aam Aadmi Party, but of its 67 newly-elected MLAs, 41 of them are crorepatis and 23 have criminal cases against them. Election watch dog ADR states that out of the total 70 newly-elected MLAs of Delhi, 44 are crorepatis out which, 41 are from the AAP and 24 have criminal cases pending against them. The AAP's 23 MLAs have criminal cases pending against them However, no legislator has any heinous criminal cases like murder and attempt to murder against them. According to a report by the Association for Democratic Reforms, 63 per cent of MLAs are crorepatis. However, in 2013, this figure was 51 MLAs with 73 per cent. The average assets per MLA in the Delhi Assembly is 6.29 crore, which was 10.83 crore in 2013. Out of the 70 newly-elected MLAs, 11 have total assets worth more than 10 crore. The top crorepati MLAs are also from the AAP. Pramila Tokas from R K Puram, has assets worth more than 87 crore, Naresh Balyan from Uttam Nagar has assets worth more than 58 crore, Kailash Gahlot from Najafgarh has more than 37 crore and Naresh Yadav from Mehrauli has more than 26 crore.
Now the onus on Kejriwal is to prove all other equation wrong and deliver the evidence that people have voted him not because of weakness of others but only due to faith on his Party and his leadership. His Party was remained focused and united after some upheaval during the election campaign. Now the focused approach and united Party without opposition should deliver the results and fulfill all towering promises to people. If it will sustain with its promises, broom will be termed delivering boon and, if it will not sustain on its promises, it will be a blow to the possibility of real alternative for coming many years. – Naveen Kumar