Coming on top of a massive hype, the one thing BJP has delivered is a disturbing communal atmosphere in the country and little else that might be tangible
To call the emphatic Delhi win of the Aam Aadmi Party merely “historic” is to underestimate the contextual significance of the moment, arguably whose clearest meaning is the contemptuous rejection of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s urgent appeals to the Delhi electorate to vote his party in so that his hands may be strengthened.
Mr Modi had said repeatedly and unusually for a PM, he campaigned energetically in Delhi that Delhi voted like India and India like Delhi. The line may now come to haunt him, although what he had meant was to entreaty with voters to emulate the Lok Sabha template.
The Congress had a zero score for an Assembly of 70, and the BJP made just three hits which is not that big a difference (and two of the three seats were gained with margins of fewer than 1,000 votes). That speaks of the magnificence of the AAP’s sweep.
To have a measure of the BJP’s fall, it should be considered that the saffron party had won the Parliament election in Delhi seven on seven just eight months ago. This is a reflection of the drop in the PM’s popularity. It is worth pondering if finance minister Arun Jaitley can go through with the kind of Budget that he frequently speaks of one that seems conspicuously tilted in favour of the haves after Tuesday’s drubbing.
Mr Modi had ensured that 125 of his MPs and 25 ministers campaigned in the Delhi election night and day. It is difficult to recall another state election (and Delhi is just a glorified municipality) in India since independence which has seen such a high-powered campaign. This makes BJP’s rout truly graphic, and suggests, seen along with the ignominious result of the Congress, that voters had no compunction choosing a rank newcomer like Arvind Kejriwal, who had abandoned his ship in just 49 days only a year ago, over the much-vaunted national parties.
This is a sign that people don’t want pomp and show, and show of power, but results. Coming on top of a massive hype, the one thing BJP has delivered is a disturbing communal atmosphere in the country and little else that might be tangible. Judging from the kind of people who voted AAP, this factor may just have been decisive, with the middle class intelligentsia making the difference on the margin. It is now Mr Kejriwal’s turn to deliver and not just on bijli and paani. He will doubtless be under watch.
The disaster the BJP has encountered would place it on the back foot in the upcoming state election over the next two years, but it is early to speak of a paradigm shift in national politics.