The Delhi elections – interpretations

As the voting leads and results started coming in on the 10th of February, it was clear that something unprecedented was happening (it has happened before in some states – for example, Sikkim and Tamil Nadu), but it is rare all the same. Even more so in a location like Delhi that is supposed to have a more educated voter, which would mean that a swing in favor of one party or the other would be unlikely to happen. After the election, there was a lot of quick analysis, but it is always better to do analysis after a few days when things have settled down. Now it has been a week, and things have settled down, although analysis of the defeat and the repercussions is still ongoing. There are many conclusions to draw from this massive verdict, for all the parties involved.

1. The air of invincibility around PM Modi and his chief lieutenant, Amit Shah has been shattered. This battle was one where Amit Shah had given up on the local leadership of the BJP and taken control of the entire campaign, running it exactly the way he wanted. However, the negative campaign that was run seems to have turned off a section of the wavering voters, leaving the core support base of Modi intact. However, for the BJP to grow, it is necessary that it acquires a greater support base, and the BJP has to figure out a new game plan of how to acquire more supporters in a positive way.

2. It has also given a shock to the BJP in terms of needing to do work. For the past many months, there had been a number of policy pronouncements, a lot of foreign visits, the projection of trying to ensure that India had a seat at the global table, and so on, all spear headed by Modi. The BJP would have been expecting the electorate to recognize these as strong trends and vote accordingly. However, the electorate seems to have passed on a message to the party about speaking less and doing more work. There does not seem to have been an enhanced impact to the life of people, and the major expectations of anti-corruption and reduction of black money seem to have been totally left by the wayside. As a result, one expects the Modi Govt to try and take more action (and sudden activity on the black money front is showing that the message seems to have been received).
3. The power of Modi and Shah in the party has taken a shock, whether this be a long term shock or just an interim jolt remains to be seen. After the Lok Sabha elections, Modi had styled himself as an Indira Gandhi type of strongman in the party, and will remain the tallest leader. But there will be voices that will be heard that object to specific measures, especially among the affiliates such as the VHP, the Bajrang Dal, the labor unions, and even among the RSS; where there is some resentment against the fact that the BJP has a strongman who will ride rough over everybody else.

1. The demise of the Congress in Delhi is shocking for the party, since it shows that in the space of 7 years, from 2008 to 2015, the party has seen a total decimation of the vote share of the party (to a current low level of 9%). The party has no dynamic leader, there was no policy on how to turn around the party in Delhi when it was clear that the Congress has lost its support base. The party had a leader who was there for 15 years in the form of Sheila Dixit, but the party refused to bring her into the campaign, and did not use her 15 years as part of the campaign.
2. At the same time, the loss of the BJP has raised some hopes in the Congress. Some loss in support for the BJP from the Lok Sabha elections does hold out promise to the party that its vote loss over the past couple of years could be reversed. However, this is not so easy, since the party organization has broken down completely, and there are no major leaders who are mass based and can attract voters.

For the AAP, it is probably putting them in a position that is somewhat similar to how the BJP was after the Lok Sabha elections. They have got a brute majority, with hopes of people behind them. Their promises are not easy to keep, will require funding, and so on. However, a couple of their promises are key – reduction in corruption and associated control of the police, as well as the reduction in electricity and water costs. They will be measured primarily in these, and the honeymoon period is not likely to be long. But, if they can atleast start showing reduction in corruption, they will get continued support for some time. It is critical however for the party to be seen as running a successful Government in Delhi, in order to be able to expand into other cities, and be seen as a contender. The odds are currently against this happening.

Other parties:
The other parties are all salivating at the loss of the BJP and the win of the AAP, seeing themselves in the shoes of AAP. However, there are lessons to be learnt for these parties – the anti-corruption that is at the key of AAP is totally against the ethos of these parties. Further, the success of the AAP lies in moving these votes banks towards itself, which it has shown in the case of Delhi, first with the BSP vote bank, and then with the Congress vote bank. The AAP is less a competitor to the BJP than it to these ‘social justice’ parties; they are almost all tainted and people might like to have an alternative in place.

3 comments to The Delhi elections – interpretations

  • Tanima Raghuvanshi

    Read your article and really liked it. I am really impressed that you take out time to write so that people like us can have an insight to these fact about government. I would be really glad if you have anything to say about what can be done about it. How can be people made aware? What should oil and gas companies do?

  • Very nice and deep thought written on your blog it surely shows your expertise in this field, i am sure it is a result of deep thinking and hardwork, also the design of your blog is very relevant to the content, keep posting such blogs

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