Disenchantment is Setting In
The victory of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the stunning defeat of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) in the Delhi Assembly elections should not come as a surprise. The BJP has paid for its overconfidence which had allowed it to ride roughshod against the zonal party bigwigs and paradrop outsiders on the unwilling cadres. The AAP besides running a methodical campaign, has cashed in on its performance in the brief past tenure when it slashed tariffs on basic utilities such as water and power to consumers in the capital.
It is still not time to read much in miserable performance of the BJP, for its pan-Indian appeal cannot be said to have suffered much of a dent. One swallow does not make a summer. The verdict in Delhi betrays the maturity of the capital’s voters which in any case cannot be expected of an electorate elsewhere at a stage just nine months after the anointment of Mr. Narendra Modi at the seat of central power. But it is for the BJP to take it as the incipient signal of the erosion of the goodwill that brought it to absolute majority in the Lok Sabha in May 2014. There is no reason for the party to be complacent.
The Indian National Congress was voted out for the insensitivity it showed towards the massive culture of corruption the party’s decade long rule had nurtured and the duality of power centres which led to paralysis in decision-making. The lesson for the BJP to draw is only marginally different. The people have begun to see over centralisation of authority within the party with both the prime minister and the party president Amit Shah hailing from the same state and caring two hoots for the aspirations of the leaders and cadres at the grassroots. The way Kiran Bedi, a party-hopper was projected as the Chief-ministerial nominee on the eve of the election clearly bred repugnance within the party.
A decisive mandate for any BJP rival at the level of some State, signaling substantial disenchantment against its (BJP’s) policy and programme is still awaited. But people have begun to see in virulent outbursts and campaigns of the loony fringe the attempts to camouflage government’s failures on the economic front and to push the communal agenda to the fore. Going by the Union Government’s u-turn on several issues—refusal to release the Henderson Brook Report on fiasco against 1962 War with China; pandering to the corporates; refusal to pursue the black money stashed away in Swiss banks; silence on abrogation of Article 370; endorsement of Aadhar may be a few instances—it seems the party is a house divided on key issues and has no cogent thinking.
The AAP under its glowing aura of victory and robust numbers in the legislatures will now have no option to agitate. It will have to work and deliver goods. Arvind Kejriwal, its leader, deserves encomiums for having rejected partisan appeal by imam of the Delhi’s Jama Masjid to Muslims to vote for the party.
The BJP’s humiliating defeat provides the Congress a convenient shield to hide behind for the time being. Its failure to carve even a single seat out of the 70, is in itself an apt commentary on the party’s pathetic state from which it is refusing to come out. The Delhi election has even served enough blows to opportunists who are ever on the lookout for fair weather friends. They have been denied even the fig leaves to hide their shame.