Why AAP won and what lies ahead

Prasanth Aby Thomas
Published: February 2015

Why AAP won elections in Delhi

The  landslide victory that the people of Delhi handed over to the Aam Aadmi Party is not just indicative of the strong support Aravind Kejriwal and his team have managed to gather in the city. It also shows how much the conventional politics has detached itself from reality, remain indifferent to the needs of the common man and, perhaps more importantly, how the Indian political system is still controlled by the citizens.

Complacent BJP

It would be an understatement to say that the Bharatiya Janata Party considered the Delhi elections to be a cakewalk. They were still basking in the glory of their Loksabha election victory on the back of PM Narendra Modi, for whom it seemed nothing could go wrong. Perhaps the colourful public relations activities including buddy-buddy hugs with Barack Obama and self-styled shirts had made BJP workers forget that the party won the assembly elections with just 31 percent vote-share, the lowest in Indian history for a single party winning majority.

Bringing in someone like Kiran Bedi was an obvious mistake, not just because the former IPS officer first came to the stage with Kejriwal in the anti-corruption campaign and taking potshots at Modi on twitter, but also because it just made the party’s older candidates look unfit -unfit to beat Aravind Kejriwal!

Add to this the number of fringe BJP supporting leaders who have come up with preposterous statements on how many children women should produce, India being a Hindu country and the ‘reconversion movement’. That the sources of these statements and actions are making them for their own personal publicity is beyond doubt, and if they are not reigned in, could spell the doom of BJP.

More significantly, people are tired of the negative politics that have dominated the scene for so long. They didn’t want to hear why Kejriwal was bad and Bedi was better, but what the elected candidates would do for them. In fact, this is such an obvious question in any democracy that would only be forgotten when a party loses its touch with reality.

Congress’ zero grade 

Has the Congress ever done so badly at the capital before? Perhaps not. A weak performance from the party was expected -although not a complete washout – and has helped the AAP improve its rankings. It’s no doubt going to take a long time for the Congress party to come back to the good books of the public, and even when they do, it would be more because their opponents do badly than because they themselves do better.

AAP’s days ahead

Moving on from dissections and investigations into the reasons of election results, the AAP will now be at pressure to deliver on its promises. The party has promised to bring water and power bills down, but nobody quite knows how this is going to happen – except may be Kejriwal himself. The ground realities from the time AAP took power for a short while has not changed much, Delhi is still not a state, the police are still answering to the central government and the Lokpal is still a glorious piece of paper that probably evokes more humour than fear of the law.

Apparently the party seems to have learnt a few lessons from its mistakes in the past and Kejriwal’s decision to admit that he made mistakes has only helped to reinforce people’s trust in him. But the party and its members would do better to remember everyone is allowed to make a mistake once – if the mistake is repeated, the punishment will be harsher.