Why Arvind Kejriwal and AAP party have lost Delhi’s trust during MCD elections 2017
New Delhi, April26:If the MCD election results are anything to go by, the Aam Aadmi Party and its leader Arvind Kejriwal have lost much of the good faith and trust that the Delhi voter had put in them in 2015. A dismal tally if 45/270 when compared to its 2015 Assembly election score of 67/70 gives the measure of the ground lost.
Needless to say, it’s huge. So what went wrong?
AAP was the primary challenger to the ruling BJP which had 10 years of anti-incumbency to deal with. On the face of it, corruption in MCDs, the repeated bouts of communicable diseases afflicting Delhi, such as dengue and malaria, were attributable to the open drains, lack of proper garbage collection and sewerage, filthy streets, mosquitoes everywhere because of inadequate fogging, pollution and other woes – were all because of the ruling BJP’s incompetence.
Yet, the saffron party not only won, but in fact increased its tally from 138 in 2012 to 180 in 2017. Though counting is still on, the leads have been established. It’s evident that the BJP is ahead by leaps and bounds when compared to both AAP and the Congress.
We need to therefore ask what have been the proverbial mistakes that the AAP and its leader Kejriwal are guilty of? Why did the Delhi aam aadmi punish AAP barely two years after being absolutely smitten by Kejriwal?
1. Deserting Delhi for Punjab, Goa
It hurts in hindsight that the AAP became a victim of its limitless ambition to spread its wings far beyond Delhi, its point of origin and biggest battlefield. Over the past year, Arvind Kejriwal was seen and heard campaigning for the two states, and his presence in Delhi was not felt.
Even though deputy CM Manish Sisodia tried his best to keep the things together and run the government in an honest manner, the Delhi-wala was not impressed. That AAP lost in both Punjab and Goa made the impression stronger that Arvind Kejriwal was too flighty to take care of Delhi.
2. Anti-EVM rants
While it’s true that the electronic voting machines did display erratic results in some cases, were they enough for the AAP, especially Kejriwal and others, to dismiss the EVMs as rigged. It seems that the AAP had given up on the fight even before the polls were held on Sunday, April 23.
Delhi witnessed a 54 per cent voter turnout, but the AAP was already trending hashtags such as #BJPRiggedEVMs to inspire confidence in the voters.
3. Negative politics
“Negative politics” is a repeated accusation that is being hurled at Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and the AAP. What was novelty in 2014/2015 quickly degenerated into a politics of confrontation and the gladiatorial fights with former Delhi L-G Najeeb Jung, who Kejriwal alleged was a proxy of the Modi-led Centre.
The notorious battle between two egotists in Modi and Kejriwal, nevertheless, worked in favour of the prime minister, who was considered too big to be challenged by the greenhorn in Delhi. Though Kejriwal batted for the right causes and was hardly ever technically wrong to challenge the Centre directly, it seems that he got the optics completely wrong.
What worked against the UPA government in the pre-2014 era boomeranged in Modi-led NDA period.
4. No central narrative
In the age of nationalism and the “soldier-at-the-border” narrative espoused by the BJP at all times, the AAP seemed to have no original agenda. Clean governance, efficiency, cleanliness, anti-corruption were all once the planks that Arvind Kejriwal brought into the national conversation during the 2011 India Against Corruption movement.
But post 2014, none of that has remained exclusive to AAP; in fact, the BJP has appropriated all of the issues to galvanise electoral politics like never before. Furthermore, communal polarisation has worked squarely in favour of the BJP and a staunchly secular party like the AAP has failed to capture Delhi’s imagination all over again.
In a grave inversion of the 2015 results, Delhi’s political schizophrenia is now out in the open. It seems the MCD election results are a verdict of Delhi’s acute disenchantment with electoral politics and it has only voted to minimise confrontation so that the BJP doesn’t have any more excuses to not fix the raging problems of Delhi municipal corporations.