Friday, December 9th, 2022 10:58:13

Kejriwal’s Victory Lessons To Be Drawn

By Alok K. Shrivastava
Updated: February 26, 2020 12:56 pm

In the last few days the  attention of the nation has been drawn by the head lines, such as, hat trick for Kejriwal, Kejriwal sweeps Delhi, Kejri-wall cannot be shaken, people voted for work politics, no place for politics of vendetta, it was a contest between positive and negative politics, it was a win for good governance and WHAT NOT ?


Basic Agenda

To begin from the beginning, the basic issue or agenda that gave rise to AAP kind of phenomenon in 2011-12 revolved around Lok Pal and Lokayukta. Both appear to have been pushed below the carpet. In a way, what the policy makers were expected to do in regard to accountability and probity are being closely watched and monitored by more educated and vigilant voters. They are certainly better watchdogs.


New Model of Development?

Contrary to popular belief, there is nothing like emergence of a new model of development. The issues, such as, education, health, electricity, water were decisive or crucial earlier as well. Apart from giving a fresh thrust or lease of life to these, both infrastructure was reported to be maintained well and quality of man power spruced up.


Populist Measures

The neighbourhood health clinics and renewed emphasis on sanitation and CCTV’s, together with free electricity and water supply, free bus ride to women etc. may be populist measures. But these also give substantial relief to marginal families, having modest expectations. No doubt they cost a lot to the public exchequer. More mobilization of revenue, therefore, will have to be explored if freebies continue, rather, when students in general are expected to be the “new beneficiaries”. Any assistance from the Centre is completely ruled out for obvious reasons.

A total revenue loss of more than Rs. 250 crores is estimated in Delhi. The PCRY of Delhi may be highest or second highest in the country. As such, there was no necessity to give such benefits. The freebies may have been influenced by the current economic thinking in some developed countries as well as reduction in number of people living below the poverty line.


State vs National Elections 

All said and done, Delhi is not India and its verdict is likely to have least effect elsewhere. Nevertheless, such a situation acts as a test or rehearsal for bigger and tougher battles in the states. Assembly and Parliamentary elections are two different propositions. Local issues generally do not impact elections to Parliament but reverse may be true.

Signal for Other States  

What has been given to relatively better-off voters in the national capital is bound to affect other states which simply can not think of affording such doles. Even though resource base may be wider elsewhere, it is the burden of huge non-productive population which may now lead to fresh experiments of populism. While agriculture may continue to depend upon vagaries of nature, the industry and tertiary sectors have their own peculiar issues and challenges. Natural calamities, such as, floods, cyclones, earthquakes, landslides, drought etc. are non existent in Delhi kind of situation. In the same way, though a lot of hue and cry is made regarding pollution in Delhi, yet the quantum of pollution is on much higher scale in major cities and states. Large number of children too die of malnutrition, hunger and non-fullfillment of minimum needs.


Work Culture

Feeling of work culture should be an individual trait. It can be inculcated and inspired, not influenced by a manager or a leader. It has to come from within. Be it Delhi or elsewhere, unless a system of reward and punishment is introduced for good and bad performance repectively, quality or for that matter, delivery of public services is bound to be sub-standard. Unnecessary recruitments and rapid promotions will have to go, there has to be periodic review of continuance of permanent man power and the vigilance machinery should be put in swift motion to nab the actual culprits, rather than causing harassment to ones refraining from toeing the line.


No Religion Higher than Truth

In view of the fact that the current Delhi debate or the poll plunk has revolved around governance issues, it would be advisable and appropriate to talk a bit about permanent cancer of corruption. It goes without saying that it has become a “non-issue” in the country as a whole and elsewhere as well. Less said is better about its prevalence in Delhi situation, irrespective of the fact as to who heads the Government. In western countries its form and nomenclature may be different but without a “cut” nothing works. Back to nation, it may be in the  form of cash or kind or both. Some individuals may not appear to be corrupt but they do not contribute to the system either. Rather, they may indirectly extend a helping hand to the nefarious practices. Remaining silent may be also a sin, if not offence. It could be stated that any public office or company runs because of 15% corrupt, yet efficient officials and 5% honest individuals. 20% may become handy or ‘useful’ in times of crisis or emergency. Rest 60% are “son or daughter-in-laws”, much above suspicion. They are ‘expected’ not to work and contribute. Afterall, job security is ensured.


Lessons drawn from Delhi Election

  1. Clean campaign pays. Frequent communication and building of rapport with voters is vital.
  2. Decisive factor is winning actual number of seats, not percentage of votes.

iii. Psephology appears to have come of age. Forecast of one group was almost accurate. But ground reality mostly varies.

  1. Delhi Police is reported to have acted in a partial manner. Incidents in various universities and Shaheen Bagh that preceded elections may have tilted the balance in favour of the winning party.
  2. Election Commission did not perform according to expectations when it came to silencing the hate factor. Hardly any action was taken against the candidates or star campaigners.
  3. There is no place for cheap remarks, communal and hate politics, however strong a political outfit may be.

vii. Caste based politics is not withering away. It is diminishing. Never the less development issues and regional tendencies are taking over.

viii. Major political parties are digging their own grave due to desperation factor. One instance is regularization of unauthorized colonies.


Future Scenario

Without making any value judgement, it is proposed to pose the following questions for future in the overall interest of Indian Polity:

  1. a) Will it herald a wind of change in the social spectrum or will it change the course of politics in future?
  2. b) Will it lead to realignment of parties opposed to ruling party? If yes, will it include Congress, TMC and DMK?
  3. c) Will it be only the BJP at the centre and the regional parties in the states?


By Alok K. Shrivastava

(An IAS Officer, the author is a former chief secretary, sikkim)

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