AAP’s victory is a lesson for other parties

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) retained power in Delhi after a bitterly fought election. It was pitted as the election of development against hate. The AAP played the development card while the BJP’s campaign was full of hatred against the minority communities. And much like the way the BJP won in 2019 on the back of Narendra Modi’s larger-than-life image and charisma, and its welfare programmes, the AAP won in 2020 on the strength of Arvind Kejriwal’s personality – none of the other parties even put up chief ministerial candidates – and its own welfare schemes. In 2019, the fact that national elections are not state elections worked for Modi and the BJP. And in 2020, the fact that state elections are not national elections has worked for Kejriwal and the AAP. The credit also goes to the AAP for not responding to the hate agenda of the BJP and sticking to the agenda of development.
The AAP’s victory in Delhi means that the BJP’s geographic footprint continues to be limited to 13 states and about 40 percent of India’s population. The election was not only a win for the AAP for taking on the might of the BJP, it was also a win for the people of Delhi, and, by extension, the people of India. Delhi’s voters have refused to become polarized and have voted for a government which they believe will do the right thing by them and their city. Equally, though, it is a win for India’s electoral process – despite unfounded fears of electronic voting machines being compromised in some way – and even for the BJP, because any reiteration of the country’s democratic credentials will only serve to establish the commitment of the country’s hegemonic political force, often accused of using power and money to swing elections its way, to democracy. Let us hope that the BJP will stop using the hate agenda in future elections, though it looks impossible. For the Congress, which scored zero in the Delhi election, the situation looks horribly wrong. For a party which ruled Delhi for 15 years to score zero in successive assembly elections should be deeply worrying.