Port Wings Editorial, Feb 18, 2015:
The scale of Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) victory in New Delhi Assembly elections was beyond everybody’s expectations.
The BJP, which received a clear and comprehensive mandate to rule the whole India just nine months ago, finished it tally in single digits, while the Congress party, which had ruled the state until two years ago, failed even to open its account at the election.
Though the AAP won 67 seats out of 70, the task before Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal now is to fulfill the promises it made to the Delhi electorate. Their promise of abundant supply of water, free wifi and electricity at cheap rates will come to haunt them throughout their tenure of five years and they may never be able to fulfill this to the satisfaction of all.
However, the distinguishing feature of AAP is their claim to provide an honest administration free from corruption and applying checks on bribery and black money.
While the AAP is in cloud nine given the mandate they got, BJP, which had claimed to sweep the Delhi polls using the charisma of its leader and Prime Minister Narendra Modi, probably got a message from the public that handling of AAP could be easier than the BJP in Delhi.
While the post-mortem of electoral debacle by BJP could throw several results, which may include the civil-disobedience agitation by local BJP when the national leadership decided to go with outsider Kiran Bedi as BJP’s face in Delhi and factionalism, time has come to the BJP to understand the message sent by the voters of Delhi, who clearly knows that AAP can’t deliver their promises without any support from BJP-led Centre.
The AAP emerged as a powerful alternative to the BJP in Delhi. But it is still very much uncertain whether the AAP will be able to repeat this success at the national level.
The performance of the BJP government during the first few months in office has demonstrated the dangers of have a single party rule in this country particularly when that party has little devotion to ideals like secularism and inter religious and communal harmony.
For Modi, these election results should lead to some reassessment about his party and his government’s priorities.
The people of India gave Modi a decisive mandate in May 2014 to govern, and govern effectively. And if AAP’s war cry of anti-corruption is still managing to cut ice with ordinary voters in the nation’s capital, it clearly denotes that Modi’s governance paradigm leaves much to be desired.
Whether or not the win for AAP in Delhi is a turning point in Indian polity remains to be seen. There are few indications yet that Indians are dissatisfied with the Modi government. It is time for the BJP to recognise that all’s not well and that AAP’s victory will change Indian politics considerably, much of it to the BJP’s detriment, unless it learns its lessons and starts delivering on its commitments.