Wednesday, 3 June 2020

Aap Effect Or Vision Verdict?

Updated: February 28, 2015 12:00 pm

Now that the dust has settled in Delhi, the almighty voter has given a clear mandate that surprised all the political parties, political pundits, media and the voters themselves. The grand old Congress party, the BJP and the AAP, all are busy now in introspecting and chalking out their own strategy for future on how to go ahead in forthcoming elections. Lessons have been learnt by all from the voters, the cadres, the media and the industry. Many frustrated so-called secular intellectuals are happy now to castigate PM Modi on 24×7 news channels. And in the present perspective, the IIT graduate Arvind Kejriwal deserves kudos for successfully uniting the young, the elite and the secularists of national capital. Like the organisational structure of the BJP, the AAP too created its organisational base at each booth in the national capital. Within a short span of time, the AAP increased its own cadres systematically in every strata of society. The new Chief Minister of Delhi is riding on the crest of a wave of high hopes and expectations of the people. The aam aadmi is waiting to receive bijli and pani at subcidised rates, free wifi in Delhi, women’s security and many more. The nation will also observe how the AAP would stick to its agenda of ‘clean politics’ along with development and emotive issues related to the common man. The Mufflerman this time looks more matured and one hopes he would concentrate more on fulfilling poll promises instead of sitting on agitations against the central government.

Having said that one fails to understand despite having a ray of matured leaders, why the BJP fails to read the pulse of the aam aadmi of Delhi as the AAP became successful. The BJP was converting a small state election into a referendum on the Centre’s performance by inducting into the campaign every single central minister and no less than 120 MPs, besides its Chief Ministers and other senior leaders from the Hindi belt. The BJP’s ‘3 M strategy’, Modi, Money and Mud-slinging, all failed to cut any ice with Delhi’s voters. One day before votes were cast, the party played a fourth M card, majoritarianism, by trying to whip up hysteria over the unsolicited support declared by the Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid for AAP. Even this backfired.

Many local BJP stalwarts command huge respect among the BJP’s Delhi cadres who quite disliked the complete takeover of the party machinery by outsiders and that to managing the elections in corporate style, which was never adopted in Delhi. Most surprising is many leaders, who were involved in BJP’s election management, are from upper house and most of them have never won any election or organised a small rally even in their political carrier. I spoke to one very senior RSS leader of Delhi after election result, who with chocked voice told me, “Me and my wife voted for the BJP but I failed to convince my son and other family members who voted for the AAP.” When counting was over and I visited the BJP headquarters at Ashoka Road, many BJP workers from Purvanchal, Delhi and other states vehemently criticised the way the party is behaving with the cadres. One senior party worker who is also a doctor from Munger of Bihar said, “The BJP office has been converted into the forte of security personnels instead of cadres. Why? The party workers are not allowed to meet senior leaders.” Cadres in Delhi were all upset at being upstaged, with Kiran Bedi being parachuted from nowhere and made the CM candidate. The BJP’s rank and file didn’t work to win these elections. Plain and simple.

The media has gone to town, pointing out the blunders committed by the BJP in the run up to the Delhi election and the reasons behind the AAP’s re-emergence. But the sheer scale of AAP’s victory and the BJP’s defeat suggests some fundamental shifts in the political tectonics of Delhi, and perhaps even of India as a whole. Why did Delhi voters ditch the BJP and go over to the AAP? Because in its eight months at the Centre, a clear message has gone to the voters that while the BJP makes vague announcements for the poor, it delivers concrete results only for the corporate sector. Like the ordinance which makes it easier for the land of farmers and adivasis to be acquired and made over to industry. Like labour laws and environmental reform which make it easier for industry to violate existing standards. The citizens of Delhi may not have experienced what these changes mean, but they are clever enough to realise the development being pursued isn’t quite inclusive. Modi is aggressive, modern-day politician, who thrives on gut feel. Now that he sits on the highest chair in the country and has a majority for his party and for him within the party he should strictly monitor his development agenda and pro-people measures, following in the footsteps of Atal Behari Vajpayee. Many party old timers recalled the bygone era of Vajpayee and Advani, when the duo functioned as a team with a certain degree of humility.

Not many tears are being shed within the BJP or RSS in Delhi. Democracy has been a basic tenet of the BJP’s DNA—of collective decision making. But increasingly the party felt suffocated at the top down decision making and election strategy. Neither the BJP nor RSS workers of Delhi were taken into confidence when the party made key decisions. Old timers and senior leaders of Delhi were insulted repeatedly. BJP and RSS workers fumed when the party gave a ticket to two-time Congress MP Krishna Tirath. The Delhi election will go down in the history for changing the way politics will be played in this country in future. We lost a common man with R.K. Laxman earlier this month but another aam aadmi has emerged from the ashes.

Deepak Kumar Rath

Deepak Kumar Rath

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