February 14, 2015

DELHI POLLS 2014 - Part VI


Though the Opinion polls may have been unanimous in declaring the AAP as the clear winner in the Delhi elections 2015 after the votes were cast on February 7, the magnitude of their victory was grossly under-estimated. Nobody, not even the likes of Kejriwal or Yogendra Yadav would have anticipated that their party would bag over 95 percent of the seats in the state assembly. As Shiv Sena supremo Uddhav Thackeray put it, it seemed that the 'Modi wave' was swept aside by the 'tsunami' in favor of the Aam Admi Party. As early as December last year, many felt that the AAP would find it extremely difficult to get a decent tally, forget thoughts of going past the half way mark, especially after a series of political blunders that they had committed in the past year. The whitewash in the national capital in the Lok Sabha polls was hailed as the beginning of the end of the anti-corruption party. In what can be best described as a 'fairy tale', thousands of AAP volunteers ably led by Kejriwal & Co. worked day in and day out to capitalize on the errors made by the BJP to turn the tide in their favor by getting across their vision for Delhi to the masses.

Courtesy: HD Wallpapers wala
The AAP's phenomenal tally of 67 seats is special in many ways. There are very rare instances in multi-party democracies like ours wherein a single party manages to win such a large percentage of seats. The only other state where such a pattern has been observed in recent times was in Sikkim where the ruling SDF under CM Pawan Kumar Chamling won all 32 seats in the 2009 elections to the state assembly. Prior to that, the party had won 31 seats in 2004. Another important trend to notice is that Kejriwal's outfit won nearly 54 percent of the total votes; again, the way our election process is structured, this is not very common. In fact, 55 of the 67 winning candidates of the AAP won over 55 percent of the votes in their respective constituencies, a clear indication that they had won the confidence of the people across all parts of the city. Prominent winners from the party include Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Somnath Bharati, Rakhi Bidlan and Alka Lamba.

          Political Party          
Aam Admi Party (AAP)
                    Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)                    
Congress (INC)

With this memorable win, the AAP has finally managed to stem the Modi juggernaut that had enjoyed unprecedented success in last eight months. The odds were heavily stacked against them. However, the relatively new outfit must be credited for the manner in which they ran their campaign ever since Kejriwal resigned from his post in February last year. With the BJP delaying the elections to the state assembly for reasons best known to them, the AAP got the time to re-group and formulate a strategy to counter the saffronists who were trying to cash in on PM Modi's popularity. Through Delhi Dialogue, the party managed to read the pulse of the voters while convincing them that they would not run away from power this time around. A strict screening process to select candidates and an effective social media campaign further helped their cause. Their 70 point agenda that included some populist measures helped them woo the lower and middle income groups away from the two national parties and helped the AAP register a historic win.

Courtesy: Desktop HD Wallpapers
For the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) the results of the Delhi polls have been their worst nightmare. Having bagged 31 seats in the 2013 state elections and won all seven seats in the parliamentary seats the following year, the saffron camp was reduced to just three seats. There is a serious need for introspection within the BJP as many political activists have pointed out, they seem to have handed an easy victory to the AAP on the platter. The delay in scheduling the polls seems to be the first mistake that the party made. As if it was not enough, the infighting within the party's state leadership as well as the move to parachute Kiran Bedi to led the campaign seem to have further contributed to their pathetic performance. In fact, the party seemed to have focused more on 'maligning' Kejriwal's image with PM Modi leading the pitch, rather than telling the people of Delhi what their plans are for the capital. The process of selecting candidates was delayed whereas the saffron camp did not even release a proper manifesto. All in all, the party seemed to have paid a heavy price for being arrogant and for running a 'negative' campaign in the polls. In what was a major setback, the party's CM candidate Kiran Bedi was beaten by AAP's S K Bagga from their stronghold of Krishna Nagar. The only silver lining was that its vote share as compared to the last state polls remained almost stagnant.

For the grand old party of Indian politics, the situation seems to be worsening. The Congress which had ruled the national capital for three straight terms could not even open its account. It managed to win just over 8 percent of the total votes where 62 of its 70 candidates even lost their deposits. Amongst them was its campaign chief Ajay Maken. It is imperative that the party's High Command takes some serious steps to arrest the decline in the fortunes of the INC.

For all posts in this series on Delhi Elections 2015, click here (Link)