Decoding the Delhi Verdict
The Delhi verdict is an eye-opener for political psephologists to finetune the strategies for forthcoming elections to Bihar and West Bengal. The reviewers are analysing according to their specs. But one thing has emerged clearly that the national issues over regional aspirations are always not accepted by the people of Delhi like this time. Hence, Kejriwal wanted from the beginning that the people of Delhi should vote on the issues of Delhi keeping national issues aside and he succeeded in this strategy and won in a historic way. In this sense, the Delhi verdict is a positive one in that it just endorses the AAP’s governance and it did not see any reason to rock the boat midstream. It also did not pass judgement on BJP, which has improved upon its tally of seats won, howsoever marginal it may be. For the BJP, it seemingly is an uphill task to gain acceptance by Delhiites when it comes to Assembly elections. Only performance in areas where the common man has a direct stake in the basics had guided the voters in their choice, not charisma of leaders. The Congress has been expectedly reduced to the state of ‘also ran’. Having said this, it cannot be gainsaid that a section of political analysts maintains that it is nothing but generous freebies to the Delhi public like free electricity, water, bus ride for women besides a very poor show by Congress. The public were clear who to vote for on national and regional levels. The same AAP was routed and relegated to third place in May 2019 general elections with only 18 per cent vote share compared to 55 per cent by BJP. Was the defeat of AAP then due to their poor performance? Delhiites thought that AAP was unfit to rule the entire nation. The same is true with BJP too. The BJP has nothing to showcase as good governance to public as it has been out power in Delhi Assembly for nearly 25 years. So in a nutshell, the 2015 story has repeated in 2020–Modi for the Centre and Kejriwal for Delhi. But it is the dismal performance by the Congress that helped AAP much, which lost deposit in 63 out of 66 constituencies it contested.
One important question that needs an answer in the context of Delhi Assembly election is this: Have top Congress leaders accepted that they have no future in Delhi? Some political analysts observe that the lesson of this verdict is that any effective opposition to the BJP will have to develop an alternative politics that centre-stages people’s everyday concerns, and their hopes and expectations. My question in this regard is this: Can regional parties do that and do they have the organisational structure to counter BJP’s politics, which too is based on people’s concerns. I think all leaders of regional parties, who wish to provide an alternative to the BJP or the Congress, have to get united and form a pre-poll alliance with a commitment to a national vision and economic policies, which will take India forward. For this to happen, these leaders will have to show foresight and, above all, willingness to shun populist policies. In this context, it is apt to mention here that Kejriwal marshalled strategies to counter-shoot the tactic of the BJP and he succeeded incredibly in his mission. He galvanised his followers into an army of purposes to consummately defeat the BJP. Moreover, he cashed in on the political space provided to him by the corruption-immersed Congress. Against this backdrop, the BJP’s managed to secure 38.5 per cent vote share, which is significant. It means the BJP’s politics of consolidating the ‘Hindu’ vote by using the CAA has succeeded to a considerable extent. At the same time, the higher AAP vote share indicates that the Delhi voters, in their Assembly context, are impressed by Kejriwal party’s focus on ‘governance’ issues. Hence, here it can be concluded that the BJP started imagining that it could get away with all sorts of meaningless ideas and caring two hoots for the common man, forgetting their needs. The performance needs analysis and promises need considerable sharpening.
By Deepak Kumar Rath