Toxic poll campaign extends BJP vanvaas

The Asian Age.  | Yojna Gusai and Shashi Bhushan

India, Politics

Kejriwal has emerged as a socialist force, at least when it comes to Delhi politics.

Manoj Tiwari

New Delhi: The toxic campaign unleashed by the BJP along with its unsuccessful attempts to consolidate the “Hindu votebank” extended the saffron party’s vanvaas in the national capital, which voted again for Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, now being hailed as the new socialist force. After Jharkhand, Delhi is the second example where the BJP failed to gain electorally, with its staunch support in favour of the Citizenship (Amendment) Act and National Register of Citizens (NRC) seen as “anti-Muslim” by the Opposition camp. At a time when all economic indicators are on a downward spital, the BJP’s caustic remarks against the Shaheen Bagh protests also failed to give it the desired results. The BJP, which won all seven parliamentary seats in May last year, got its hopes of returning to power in Delhi brutally dashed by the AAP,  which will form the government for a third consecutive term.

Delhi, which has seen a major demographic change in the past two decades, where lower and lower middle voters now dominate the class character of the city, instead of just the middle class, over 50 per cent of voters favoured the liberalised character of the AAP, whose campaign focused around its work and whose leaders refrained from hitting back at the acerbic language used by some BJP leaders. Subsidised water and electricity, and free rides in DTC buses for women, were also of considerable help to the AAP.

While the BJP’s voteshare increased compared to the last Assembly polls, its tally remained in single digits, which some of the party’s top leaders had claimed would easily cross the 40 mark. However, after the BJP’s humiliating debacle after the Jharkhand polls, the party office was abuzz with rumours that the leadership was “actually trying to enthuse” its cadre through the “feedback” and “internal surveys”, but were aware of the “real position”. But the general view within the BJP is that its aggressive campaign led by BJP president J.P. Nadda and Union home minister Amit Shah had galvanised the cadre.

“(Arvind) Kejriwal has emerged as a socialist force, at least when it comes to Delhi politics. He has managed to woo the lower class and lower middle class which are more dominating than the middle class now in Delhi’s demography. Kejriwal and AAP the have become more close to the masses in Delhi than any other political leader or party. Instead of a vision for Delhi, our party focused on polarising issues that got rejected,” said a senior BJP leader.

While the entire BJP top brass was engaged in the campaign, Mr Kejriwal’s connect with the lower and lower middle class and the BJP’s failure to reconnect with the middle class, considered its support base, and also the leadership crisis in the BJP Delhi unit, only added to its woes. The BJP’s mainifesto also failed to impress Delhi voters, who went along with the AAP, that is seen more closer to the masses than the BJP, at least when it comes to the Assembly polls.

The BJP’s strategy of personal attacks against Mr Kejriwal also went against it as his image as well as his party’s socio-economic vision proved more powerful than the BJP leadership and its communal and polarising poll strategy.

Speculation is now rife that the BJP leadership will overhaul the party’s Delhi unit, which failed to make any impressive impact since the party last ruled the national capital. Factionalism and the state leadership’s failure to enthuse the cadre also proved devastating for the BJP.

“The BJP accepts the people’s mandate and we will fulfil the role of a constructive Opposition. We will raise all issues related to the development of Delhi. With the belief that the Aam Aadmi Party government will work for Delhi’s development, I congratulate Arvind Kejriwal and his party,” tweeted BJP president J.P. Nadda.

BJP Delhi unit chief Manoj Tiwari, who earlier in the day had predicted a huge victory for his party, tweeted: “Thanks to all the voters of Delhi. Thank you to all the party workers for their hard work... We respect the mandate of people. @ArvindKejriwal congratulations to you... I hope the Delhi government will live up to the expectations of the people.”