Charged by sensational debut in polls, AAP all set to step out of Delhi
New Delhi: Charged by its sensational debut in electoral politics, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party is now preparing to step out of Delhi.
The AAP, which shattered caste and religion-based politics in Delhi, hopes to replicate its success in other states. The two main national parties, the Congress and the BJP, admit that they need to rework their strategies to live up to the newfound aspirations of ordinary citizens.
Read here: What next in Delhi?
Buoyed by its Delhi success, the AAP has begun to chalk out plans for the coming Lok Sabha elections.
“We have already opened offices in 368 districts across the country. Now our workers are charged up and have also started believing that we can bring around changes in the political landscape of the country in the coming general election,” said a senior AAP leader.
Addressing the media after his triumph in Delhi, Kejriwal said that the AAP would neither seek support nor give it to any party, and would play the role of a 'constructive Opposition'. He said: “The results are a message to established political parties like the Congress and the BJP to change the way they do their politics. If they do not reform themselves, the people will throw them out.”
Broom, Broom! Spoiler for BJP
Sitting huddled outside New Delhi’s historic Hanuman Mandir, just a stone’s throw away from the Aam Admi Party’s office, Gulshan, a beggar instead of seeking alms softly asked, “By how much margin has he won?”
Gulshan, like several lakhs in this teeming metropolis, was curious to know by what margin AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal had won. Never mind that Gulshan himself is not enrolled as a voter.
It is a measure of the traction that Kejriwal and his party managed in the assembly polls here that the jhadu (broom) has literally swept away Sheila Dikshit and her party out of power after 15 years at the helm.
Do read: AAP makes stunning debut
Indeed, AAP’s electrifying debut — it got 28 seats — has not only stolen the BJP’s thunder despite its creditable showing but Mr Kejriwal himself proved to be the David against Sheila’s Goliath, inflicting a humiliating defeat on her.
Befittingly enough, it was the humble but apt jhadu — AAP’s symbol — that was being wielded like a victory banner by AAP workers, volunteers and supporters who thronged the party’s office near Hanuman Mandir.
The mood triumphal as drums occasionally broke into celebratory beats and AAP supporters in their trade-mark AAP topis (caps) cheered as the results gushed in.
The party, dismissed as a Johnny-come-lately by the decades old Congress and BJP in the run-up to the polls, has fared stupendously well in the polls.
A shocked Congress and BJP had to eat humble pie and concede by Sunday evening that they will need to act more responsibly in the future.
Typically averse to cornering credit for his party’s stunning debut, Kejriwal said, “Yeh is desh ke logon ki jeet hai (this is the victory of the people of India).” He also reminded people that AAP’s poll-plank was based on 'truth and honesty'.
“Who are we? We are the aam admi (common man)?,” said Kejriwal. His workers, far more excited, said that AAP’s victory meant not ‘satta parivartan’ (regime change) but ‘vyavastha parivartan’ (system change). Ratan Lal, 80, another supporter, said that AAP’s victory was an “outburst against political malpractices and political suppression.” Karnapratap, also part of the crowds outside the AAP office explained, “Had there been no corruption, we would not have come into politics.”
The anti-corruption plank, indeed, is the leitmotif that's found resonance among the common man.
Next: AAP is real story of Assembly polls
AAP is real story of Assembly polls
The results of the Assembly elections for Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Delhi — with the BJP getting the better of the Congress in a telling fashion overall — must send the country’s ruling party scurrying back to the drawing boards if it plans to make a fight of it in the next Lok Sabha election in a few months’ time.
Congress leader Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul, who were clearly stunned by their party’s disappointing performance, have promised to do just that.
But in the case of the Congress such an objective is not easy to achieve, given its dismal record of being able to rise above the notion of family-oriented fiefs when it comes to giving election tickets to those who are outside the charmed circle of senior party officials and their acolytes.
The BJP licked the Congress in brutal fashion in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh. In the latter, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has romped home for the third consecutive time.
In the BJP, this equals the showing of Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and without adopting his contentious and divisive ways. In Chhattisgarh, the Congress fought the BJP hard and the game went to the wire.
But it is Delhi — where the spectacular performance of the newly formed Aam Aadmi Party took everyone’s breath away — which seems the real story of these elections. The BJP won the most seats, with the AAP being such a close second that both parties found themselves within hand-shaking distance of the halfway mark. The Congress could only notch a single digit score.
That the BJP could not swing the public disenchantment all its own way suggests to many that where a viable third force exists, the saffron party’s performance against the Congress is far from assured.
The claim sounds hollow today that the 'magic' wrought by BJP mascot Narendra Modi would move the young and upwardly mobile sections, the 'aspirational' India. Does any state in the country get more 'aspirational' than Delhi? And Mr Modi had put in hard work here, addressing seven large rallies. The Delhi story raises two pertinent questions.
One, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit lost so badly although few CMs in the country can compete with the transformations she has brought about, not to say a broad modernising influence in the public sphere.
So, was the Delhi Congress leader blown away by the price of onions and potatoes? The other matter of considerable interest is: Can the AAP hold its own in non-metropolitan areas where a myriad concerns of everyday India hold sway? These polls were held in the BJP’s (and RSS’) traditional stronghold states and can hardly be seen as the first draft of the results of the next Lok Sabha election.