How Kejriwal defeated Modi led BJP in Delhi?


Delhi voters rejected the politics of hatred and divide


BJP and big section of Indian media build the image of Narendra Modi as undefeatable leader. He has been promoted as a leader who smashed every opponent and nobody can stand up to him. But crushing defeat in Delhi assembly elections has tarnished this strong image.  

Arvind Kejriwal led AAP pulled emphatic victory against hardline Hindu nationalist BJP led by Modi. He will take oath as chief minister for the third time.  The crushing defeat of BJP has posed many questions to its strategy. BJP won all the 7 Lok Sabha constituencies in last year’s general election in Delhi. AAP was third in all seven seats. It is widely believed that Citizenship Amendment Act and resistance against it change the situation.

The BJP ran a venomous campaign and hurled all kind of accusations against AAP and its leader Arvind Kejriwal. Despite all the efforts of BJP to win over the Delhi voters like May 2019 general elections- Delhi voters have rejected BJP.  The people of Delhi have rejected the politics of fear-hatred and divide. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has retained power in Delhi on the back of an extremely bitter election campaign.
The BJP made the Citizenship Amendment Act and protest movement against it as the main issue in this election. The BJP accused Shaheen Bagh protestors and AAP as anti-national elements. 

 
Union Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP president JP Nadda and a host of leaders -- some of whom made controversial comments inviting the ire of the Election Commission -- were relentless in their campaign in Delhi. But Kejriwal held his sway over Delhi, which had voted for the BJP in all seven Lok Sabha constituencies only eight months ago when the AAP finished at a distant third place in the national election.
But Kejriwal took revenge after just eight months. He failed to stand against the Modi wave eight months ago. But in assembly elections he asked the voters to vote for his performance and delivery. He said that “Vote for us only if our government has worked over the past five years. Else vote for the BJP." The general election was all about national politics and Modi. So BJP routed the AAP and Congress in Lok Sabha elections. In the general elections- voters preferred BJP and Congress over AAP. 
But when it came to the Delhi assembly elections-voters preferred AAP because of its performance in last five years. AAP and CM Arvind Kejriwal delivered most of the promises. The voters seems satisfied with AAP government.   
This was how Arvind Kejriwal sought vote for his AAP during the election campaign in Delhi. Kejriwal cited free electricity, free water, education reforms, better health services and zero corruption among others as achievements of the AAP government while seeking vote for the party.
In 2013 and 2015 election campaigns, Kejriwal had pitched his AAP as the party that would defeat the BJP and Congress's "design" of increasing electricity rate and school fees, and offer free water to every household.

In the past five years, the Kejriwal government made power consumption up to 200 units free, halved the electricity rate for power consumption up to 400 units, gave free water supply up to 20,000 litres and stopped private schools from hiking fees for full five years.

The health services which were better than most of the states in Delhi earlier as well improved further under the Kejriwal government. Kejriwal developed an ecosystem, also involving his party members, to ensure that hospitals under the Delhi government treated patients well and that medicines were made available free to every patient. The prompt ambulance services generated much goodwill among the people for Kejriwal and the AAP.


The middle-class had overwhelmingly supported the BJP in the Lok Sabha election. That had given the BJP hope that it could retain the middle-class support in Delhi. Kejriwal went out to the middle-class voters offering freebies concerning their daily-life household needs and presenting a picture of an honest government.
Kejriwal was heard saying at public events that the people have decided "Modi for Centre and Kejriwal for Delhi". In his rallies, election meetings and TV interviews, Kejriwal cleverly backed this narrative topping it up with a warning that "the BJP would not help you get treatment in hospitals, lessen electricity bills and ensure quality and affordable education" in Delhi. These are the daily worries of the middle and lower middle class people.

Further, involvement of a large number of salaried professionals in the volunteer force of the AAP helped the party connect with the voters better. These "educated and well-informed" volunteers of the AAP "explained" to the voters they contacted to focus on factors concerning local government in the Delhi election. This worked for them.
                                                      Khalid Bhatti

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