Delhi has elected its representative. Arvind Kejriwal is all set to be the Chief Minister of the union territory. Delhi Legislative Assembly is going to witness only two parties for the next five years. For the first time, I followed the Delhi Elections closely, impartially and critically. This cool-headed observation made me reflect and analyse the last couple of elections. ‘India against Corruption’ was the movement that helped me get into the political scenario of the country, as I was also fighting a battle against corruption in my village then. The time period was 2010 to 2012. Now, when I reflect and analyse what had directed my political thoughts, interesting insights are coming out.
The result of the recent Delhi Assembly elections is not very surprising or astonishing. If we analyse the election results since 2013, this result is very much in line with the earlier results. In 2014, Modi won the BJP a clear majority in the General Elections after three decades. The core of the political debate was based on eradication of corruption, new ways of development, national security and prestige. But in the very next year, in case of the Delhi Assembly elections, the BJP could not repeat its victory based on the same kind of proposals.
In 2015 itself, the BJP also lost in Bihar by pitching an unclear idea of the State’s development and opposition vanishing election campaign. After that, it won multiple state elections when the situation was one of the two: either the BJP was the only dominant party, or people were fed up of other political parties.
Now, in 2020, when we see the Delhi Election result, we can easily find that the votes stick to the agenda of providing economic relief to people, better facilities of habitation, and a clear leadership image with devotion in promise. Despite multiple efforts of injecting national and international issues in the state election, the BJP could not mobilise many voters. Hence, again and again, the trends are saying that people want the state assembly elections to be focused on local development.
It is anybody’s guess that the high-tech campaigning during the 2014 General Election has changed the style of fighting elections. It will not be an exaggeration to say that it has developed an industry around itself. Now, after five years, it takes a team to even stand as a candidate in an election. You need digital portfolio management, a narrative building strategy, innovative campaign planning, rigorous on-ground presence, and a hefty amount of money.
And yet, there is no guarantee that the election will yield a positive result. In multiple opportunities, Congress drained its pocket to political consultancies and still, could not ensure desired results. Just after the dawn of the BJP-storm, in the 2015 Bihar assembly elections, the rallies of PM Modi could draw a huge mob, but the same number of votes were not found in the EVM for his party.
The same thing happened with the same figure and the same party in Delhi Assembly elections 2020. It indicates that those who are coming to the political rallies are not uninformed or blank; they are actually checking the boxes of their own priorities, which is different in case of General and State Assembly elections. It indicates that a contemporary Indian is a voter with high political quotient.
In all the elections over the last one decade, I can easily visualise the trend of positive political stance of voters. In 2014, the narrative of the BJP for a newer, stronger and secure India was much more prevalent than that of a Congress-mukt Bharat. The same party with a negative campaign of political parties in Opposition lost its voters’ faith in 2015.
Even the Congress contested the elections by putting the BJP at the centre of its political criticism, and was backed by no alternative developmental proposal. In some states, where the BJP leaders were ruling for long and had gained arrogance, the voters gave Congress a chance. But, the basis of the situation was that the Congress could not mobilise voters by impressing them with this developmental plans or proposals.
In the Delhi Assembly Elections, the BJP tried hard to penetrate the political narrative with the help of national security issue, communal bent of recent social unrests, and reacting negatively to the claims of developmental initiatives of the Aam Aadmi Party.
On the other hand, the direction of the campaign of the Aam Aadmi Party was focused on providing better services and facilities for Delhiites. In other words, the BJP relied on its charismatic leader PM Modi, and its big cadre of political workers to defeat the current party in power, whereas the AAP focused on pleasing the citizens with a proof of a corruption-less government.
During the 2014 election campaign, I remember that Narendra Modi, the then Prime Ministerial candidate, took a strong jibe at Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on his remark of ‘dehati aurat’ on the then Prime Minister of India Manmohan Singh. Modi had said “I cannot tolerate this kind of remark of Pakistani Prime minister to the Indian PM Mr. Singh. We have political differences, but he is my PM too”.
The same kind of situation arose when a comment was posted on PM Modi by a Pakistani leader who supported the chief ministerial candidate Kejriwal. On the comment, Mr. Kejriwal took a strong jibe and had said, “Mr. Modi is my PM too, and I cannot tolerate any comment from a nation that sponsors terror”. This was a heart winning statement for Modi supporters, whereas some leaders of the BJP went on calling several bad names to Kejriwal. This doesn’t work for a close observer like me. I cannot tolerate a person who fights for better education, better health care and prestige of the PM of the nation, being declared or compared with terrorists.
नरेंद्र मोदी जी भारत के प्रधानमंत्री है। मेरे भी प्रधानमंत्री है। दिल्ली का चुनाव भारत का आंतरिक मसला है और हमें आतंकवाद के सबसे बड़े प्रायोजकों का हस्तक्षेप बर्दाश्त नहीं। पाकिस्तान जितनी कोशिश कर ले, इस देश की एकता पर प्रहार नहीं कर सकता। https://t.co/E2Rl65nWSK
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) January 31, 2020
Over a period of time, it has been observed that parties are trying to locate people with readymade human capital. We have been witnessing celebrities being welcomed in politics. Why? Before millions of unemployed educated youth, the political parties propose a less educated leader with no sectoral knowledge, and negligible expertise. Political parties do not realise that with Instagram and other social media platforms, people understand that celebrities are no different from them when they are off the film set.
So, what is the incentive for voters to elect them as leaders? We are not the generation where we will turn out to vote for a personality just because we like them. Thus, political parties have to work harder so that they may identify the right person to be projected as a leader, work deeply to identify the developmental issues, impress ideas as solutions, and work in consonance so that a compatibility may be struck between the proposed issues and the leaders. Relying on crowd-pullers do not appear to be good idea from any perspective!
Many memes are being shared on social media about the people of Delhi branding themselves as “freebies eaters”. I think I have not witnessed shorter queues of people in any part of the country if free lunch is served, free travel is administered, or free health care is provided. Then why are we raising questions and whom are we questioning? Isn’t it good that a government finds a way to conserve environment, manage the balance of payment of the treasury, and yet is able to find a way to sponsor the activities of people that are essential for survival of life?
I think it is an undebatable idea that without any local development, a nation cannot be strong. I think those who are really passionate about the BJP must do the advocacy for local all-round development to be the prioritised agenda of its state cadre. Bihar is waiting to be in a situation where Indian voters are indicating all symptoms of being politically informed.