Arvind Kejriwal just did ‘a Modi’…on Modi…
If someone had told me last year (or for that matter, even this year), that Arvind would single handedly decimate the BJP in Delhi, and cause the Congress to forego its deposit in 60+ of the 70 seats it contests, I would have a hearty laugh…and then some. But as the results rolled in today, it was obvious. The people of Delhi had given Kejriwal a thumbs up, and the rest of the fingers too…
So what went wrong for the BJP? How did Kejriwal pull off such a sensational victory?
By now, everyone (Lalu, Nitish, Omar, Mamta, hell even Sonia) would have hailed this as a victory for democracy, for secularism, for everything else in between. Never mind that this was a poll for 70 assembly seats, in one small (but important) part of India. Never mind that just nine months ago, the BJP scripted arguably the best victory in decades, in the general elections held ALL over India. Victory has many masters…defeat has none. So is this really the beginning of the end for the BJP? I don’t think so.
A few thoughts:
1. Vote share : As per initial estimates, the AAP had around 54% vote share, compared to 32% for the BJP. Huge difference, but when you compare it to 2013, the BJP has lost a about just 1% of its vote share. In other words, it has retained its core base. So where did AAP get its votes from? Yes…The Congress, which went from 24.5% to 9.8%, and the BSP, down from 5.3% to 1.3%. In other words, the traditional Congress voter didn’t want to ‘waste’ his vote, and hence voted AAP.
2. Kiran Bedi: We all knew she would be a possible scapegoat, but the truth is that she just didn’t have enough time to connect with voters. Also, in pure ‘vote-getting’ charisma, she was no match for Kejriwal.
3. ‘Modi” factor: No, this isn’t what you think. Modi trounced the Congress in the General Elections, using his ‘outsider’ card. He was the challenger…the man who rose from nothing to challenge the grand old party of India. The underdog. Cut to 2015…and Kejriwal became the ‘Modi’ of Delhi…the underdog…ridiculed by the people in power…denied official invites to the Republic Day parade…he became the commoner, the challenger. And did ‘a-Modi’…on Modi.
4. Freebies: Who doesn’t like them?
So what now?
Some voices have already started calling for a third front…which is basically everyone who is not BJP. A glimmer of hope has been seen…the Sachin Tendulkar of elections (Amit Shah) has been defeated. Modi magic didn’t work in Delhi, and so the swords are out. For the next many days, the media will crucify the Government, purporting the rout in Delhi as a referendum on Modi’s performance. The Budget session will be rough as well. All expected.
But reality will seep in slowly. The Modi Government has been on the right track, and policy wise, there is little that the opposition can find fault in. A lot of work has been done and a lot more is happening, and the public sees this. And Delhi is not the whole of India, its not even a big state. So defeat on local issues cannot possibly be seen as a defeat nationally. It also remains to be seen how Kejriwal 2.0 will perform, and more importantly, fulfill the moon and the stars that he promised to fetch for Delhi. There will be no third front, for it would mean cobbling together eleven PM aspirants (too many cooks…).
The Congress? Hmm…hmm…bring in Priyanka please…oh wait..she is Mrs. Robert Vadra. Doesn’t work. Hmm…Rahul Gandhi? LOL.
The BJP will also have to pull up its socks. The honeymoon period is officially over. There are important assembly elections coming up in Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh, and 940 seats are at stake. Modi will have to throw in some short-term sweetmeats in addition to the long-term plans that he is focussing on. Stormy weather ahead for a while.
As for the AAP, welcome to the party. It was getting boring with the Congress. After all, what would one rather watch…India vs. Pakistan…or India vs. Afghanistan?