Such victories could cause vertigo. AAP leaders are sensibly guarding against losing equanimity on touching such dizzying heights. Arvind Kejriwal was the first to use the adjective ‘scary’ for the unprecedented mandate. This fear is welcome as long as he and his colleagues keep their feet grounded and remain loyal to the guiding principles of the party.
The party has redefined political austerity. It has set new rules the two mainstream parties, the Congress and the BJP, would find hard to follow. During the campaign the AAP apologised to the voters of Delhi for quitting the government in just 49 days last year. The party thus harmed the BJP most by subtly highlighting its arrogant and abusive conduct. Apologies have become unknown to the BJP’s new dispensation under Narendra Modi- Amit Shah.
Others may have forgotten the slaps Kejriwal took for abdicating Delhi a year ago. Kejriwal apparently did not. Instead of losing cool Kejriwal and his colleagues steadfastly began reconnecting with the Delhi voters. The AAP deserves praise for acknowledging and appreciating the anger that resulted in violent reactions. The auto rickshaw pliers who were tired of extortion by policemen were upset by Kejriwal’s desertion. So were the others of that socio-economic strata.
The party picked up the thread after the Lok Sabha jolt and got down to meeting people in lanes and by-lanes. This simple trick of door-to-door campaign for man to man connect was in striking contrast to BJP’s ad blitz, high profile road shows, hours of airtime on electronic media. Keriwal got back the warmth he offered to lower middle class and marginalised people in downtown Delhi. He came to be seen and accepted as one of them.
He presented a complete contrast from the haughty counterparts the BJP and the Congress that had lost connect. Despite having been at the helm in Delhi and the nation for 15 years the Congress could not win back the voter’s heart. After scoring a nought in the Lok Sabha elections it repeated the showing in the assembly elections and was content to draw vicarious pleasure from BJP’s dismal performance.
The AAP has learnt from own as well as from others' mistakes. Kejriwal has brought a whiff of fresh air by candidly acknowledging the enormity of the task in the wake of such mandate. His colleague repeatedly asked the party supporters not to go overboard in revelries as the actual celebrations should start when the party delivers on promises.
The BJP’s reaction to the Lok Sabha results in Delhi was not so humble. It had a support in 60 out of the 70 assembly segments. The Delhi MPs took just eight months to squander that mandate. The party strayed away from with its constituents and also started losing touch with own cadre. People like Arun Jaitley with no electoral victories to their credit directed the election campaigns. Kirti Azad the party MP was among the first to criticise the leadership without mincing words. He did not name Jaitley or party president Amit Shah, but drove the message home referring to the changing culture in the party.
People in Delhi have seen a much sober face of the BJP even during the NDA rule. The party now gives the impression of being power drunk. Amit Shah scoffing at all exit poll surveys and insisting that the party would still win two thirds majority presented an anti-pole to suave Kejriwals, Manish Sisodia or Yogendra Yadav. Non-Muslims and fair-minded orthodox Hindus also were dismayed at the Love Jihad and ghar-wapsi moves and more-children calls while of Prime Minister Narendra Modi pursued a dubiously half- hearted and full-throated secularism.
Through the campaign Kejriwal astutely spurned Bukhari's overtures to avoid counter-polarisation and after the victory showed enough magnanimity to announce that the leader of opposition will be there regardless of the strength on those benches. In a way it would have been poetic justice for the BJP which denied the Congress post of leader of Opposition in the Lok Sabha. With such little experience in governance the new ruling party will virtually have no bridle in the form of opposition. Leaders like Prashant Bhushan, Rajmohan Gandhi Yogendra Yadav have promised to build some mechanism to put all important decisions through public scanner.
This historic mandate should worry the electorate as much as it scares the AAP. People have seen the Janata Party frittering away a massive mandate in just 18 months in the 70s and then Rajiv Gandhi throwing away a bigger vote in just two years in the eighties.
The clock has already started ticking for the AAP.
Updated Date: Feb 11, 2015 20:44:08 IST