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Issue No.: 573 | March 2015

Political Paralysis of BJP and Congress

B. N. Mehrish
While the younger age groups wanted to see Kejriwal as Chief Minister, the older age groups leaned towards Bedi

Delhi showed no signs of voter fatigue, setting a new record of 67.14% on 7 February 2015. Local issues carried the day for the three main parties Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), BJP and the Congress. As predicted, AAP won with 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi Assembly. It was a spectacular win. The challenge now is to fulfil its promises. Amit Shah, the BJP president seemed to have misread completely the mood of Delhi’s voters. The poor who felt disenfranchised in every way saw a ray of hope in AAP. The Congress has been totally wiped out. The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi had upset senior BJP leaders.

It has been rightly observed by senior journalist Neeraja Chowdhary that the AAP victory "will embolden BJP’s allies like the Shiv Sena and Akali Dal and also its opponents”. Kejiriwal’s apology for resigning his chief minister position in the previous assembly election softened Delhites. There was an emotional connect being made by Kejriwal with Delhi voters cutting across castes and communities.

The AAP victory is a manifestation of a growing political consciousness, particularly among the middle class. The Anna Hazara movement against corruption created the ground for impatience among the people.

The IMRB-The Week Magazine election survey (2015) was conducted among 4,055 respondents from 70 constituencies between January 22 and January 24, 2015, the survey showed that the BJP would not get a majority (36 seats in a house of 70). Preferred choice for chief minister according to the survey was as follows: 

Arvind Kejriwal        40%
Kiran Bedi                 39%
Ajay Maken                3%
Harshvardhan           1%

While the younger age groups wanted to see Kejriwal as chief minister, the older age groups leaned towards Bedi.

AAP promised audit of discoms (Power Distribution Companies and reduction in power tariffs; CCTV all over the city for women’s safety; education loans for all Delhi students; 20 new colleges, and wi-fi in the city.

The BJP promised 24x7 electricity supply, upgrading existing infrastructure, continuous water supply, reviving the Renuka Dam Project, developing Delhi as a knowledge hub by opening skill development centres, develop Delhi as a tourism hub and bring hospitals and schools on par with international standards.

The total voter turnout was 67.14 per cent. In the constituency of the CM hopefuls, voter turnout was as follows:

 Arvind Kejriwal -          64.28 %
Kiran Bedi -                     71.97 %
Ajay Maken -                  71.71 %

Throughout the election campaign, Kejriwal suggested that to vote for the BJP "would be to vote for the failures of all politicians through the ages. To vote for AAP would be to vote for "change” (Hindustan Times, February 11, 2015). Kejriwal got the support of slum dwellers auto drivers, industrial labour, migrants, Dalits, Muslims and people at the very bottom of the social pyramid. Throughout the campaign, Kejriwal emphasised the "David vs. Goliath” nature of the battle. Kejriwal has reason to rejoice and will have to work hard to fulfil promises he has made during the campaign. Kejriwal has changed the national mood. How Narendra Modi will handle Kejriwal’s popularity and charisma is a serious cause for concern.

DR. B. N. MEHRISH former Professor of Politics, University of Mumbai.





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