New Delhi: The AAP got it absolutely right during the election campaign when it raised two slogans: Paanch Saal, Kejriwal; and BJP half, Congress saaf.
With the results now indicating just three seats for the BJP and none for the Congress, it can be said that the voter has reduced Narendra Modi’s party to half of the Congress tally (8) in 2013.
In a repeat of the Lok Sabha verdict, the principal opposition party has not even won ten percent of the seats. It may have to depend on Arvind Kejriwal’s mercy for the leader of the opposition slot. Rahul Gandhi, who was denied the privilege in the Lok Sabha, must be smiling.
So, as in life, what goes around comes around in politics. And this is the biggest lesson of the election for the BJP and also for Kejriwal.
“It is very scary, I am afraid because of the big verdict. The BJP and the Congress suffered because of their hubris; if we repeat their mistake the people of Delhi will teach us a lesson after five years,” Kejriwal said, during his victory speech at the party headquarters.
Kejriwal has got it absolutely right. But he may be making a mistake for believing that voters now take five years to become angry with a government, especially if they choose it with lots of expectations and hopes.
The people of Delhi have overturned the verdict of 2014 in just eight months, bringing the BJP from its high of 46 percent votes to a low of just 33 percent. If more than 13 percent voters have moved away from the BJP, it is clearly a sign that they are disenchanted with the Modi sarkar. The BJP has not just been defeated; it has been humiliated in Delhi.
It can be argued that eight months is too small a duration to judge the performance of the government. The Delhi mandate can imply that voters have become extremely impatient and they want results at the speed of light. But Modi is not the first one to have suffered a precipitous decline.
When Modi had completed six months in power, Firstpost had pointed out that the euphoria around him was almost similar to the hype around Rajiv Gandhi’s first few months in power. But Rajiv became unpopular within just a few months because he failed to live up to people’s expectations and his own image.
Similarly, Mamata Banerjee and Akhilesh Yadav had registered landslide victories just a few years ago in their states. But they started losing popular support within a few months. In Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, where the BJP got a massive mandate in 2013, even a beleaguered Congress is showing healthy signs of revival.
Clearly, Kejriwal will have to hit the ground running. He can’t afford to wait for five years to be taught a lesson. In Indian politics even five months is a long time and he is starting on the right note with the fear of voters in his heart.
But, the bigger learnings are for the BJP. According to reports, soon after the exit polls indicated a massive win for the AAP, Amit Shah held a meeting with several top leaders of the party. This was, incidentally, the first time he bothered to even consult his colleagues in the party. From the dictatorial hubris of paradropping Kiran Bedi on the cadre, Shah came down to terra firma earth by realising the importance of internal democracy. This is a good beginning for the party, where the Modi-Shah duo has so far been taking decisions after just speaking to each other on the phone.
The 54 percent vote share—almost unprecedented in the history of our first-past-the-post system—of the AAP would also force Modi to ponder over how the party of a humble ‘chaiwalah’ has been rejected by almost two-third of the voters in Delhi.
Delhi is almost a microcosm of India. It has people of all castes, communities, religions, states and socio-cultural identities. It is a perfect sample for conducting a survey of the mood of the nation. As Modi rightly said at a rally recently, what Delhi wants, India also wants; what is in Delhi’s heart is also in India’s heart.
So, here is what Delhi is saying about what is in the heart of India:
One, ask for paanch saal, but start showing results in paanch months.
Two, seek votes with humility on the basis of your agenda and manifesto; not by talking about your naseeb.
Three, some suits can cost more than Rs 10 lakh. Next time somebody gifts one, auction it for a public cause.
Four, learn to take everybody along, including Ramzaadas and the kind that irritate Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti.
Five, never ask voters to send a politician to a jungle. You never know when you may have to invite him home for a cup of tea, and pour it in his cup, just like for Obama.
Six, learn to listen to critics. Not every opinion poll or a critic is bazaaru.
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Updated Date: Feb 10, 2015 21:37:51 IST