A repeat of 2013 assembly results in Delhi?

By Vijaya Pushkarna

No party or leader has ever been superior to the voters in aggregate, one of the facts that make India count among the world’s biggest democracies.

The  most acrimonious and decidedly the dirtiest campaign from the Bharatiya Janata Party,  silence from the Indian National Congress, and carefully crafted  work-based campaign by the Aam Aadmi Party, are thankfully behind us . As people wait to cast their votes in the Delhi Assembly elections tomorrow, the day is free for us to play the numbers game. Will past figures help arrive at the result that we will know on Feb 11 ? What we cannot say  is there will be no hung assembly,-- with or without fancy resorts for the newly elected leaders, and scheming at midnight and early morning swearing in.

When Narendra Modi as the prime ministerial candidate was creating a tsunami never seen in the post Indira Gandhi era ,the AAP did not win a single seat in the National Capital Territory during the Lok Sabha 2014 elections .It had, however polled 32.9 % of the votes. BJP garnered  46.4 % of the votes.

Just a few months before that, in the assembly elections of Nov2013, AAP’s first electoral battle, they snatched 28 seats with 29.5 % votes, to BJP’s 31seats with a vote share of 32.7% The new born party’s main theme was corruption and the Jan Lok Pal bill, along with subsidized electricity and free water. They formed a government with the support of the Congress, but it resigned in 49 days. Modi and Shah were not the biggies in this campaign.

Then came the party’s second assembly electoral battle, in Jan 2015. Campaigning for the BJP were Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP  president Amit Shah. Sticking to its previous manifesto, AAP’s broom did a clean sweep, winning 67 of the 70 seats. It’s vote share was 54.3 % ; BJP won the remaining 3 with 32.1 % votes.This when the dust had hardly settled on the Modi magic. 

In Lok Sabha 2019, AAP again drew a blank, in a scene that had reversed. The party got 18 % of the votes, while the BJP climbed up to 56.58 %.

These numbers  pertain to two Lok Sabha polls and two assembly polls in the Delhi Capital Territory. They show  that BJP  has climbed up the popularity ladder in the Lok Sabha, but remained  virtually static in the assembly elections. It also shows that between the last assembly elections and last parliamentary elections, BJP has caught up with AAP—in fact more than caught up—in terms of people who voted for the two parties.

The saffron party was enhancing  its voter appeal  in successive assembly polls, but having conquered India, they could not conquer its  heart .That has eluded the BJP from 1998, making the current assembly elections a do-or-die exercise for it—they will not die for sure. It is also a time to test the status of the Modi magic and Union Home Minister Amit Shah's effectiveness as a strategist for his party, an image that has taken a hit lately. The two of them were the faces of the BJP which did not project any chief ministerial candidate.

The AAP has projected Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and its main slogan  is "Achche Nikle Paanch Saal, Lage Raho Kejriwal" -- the five years have gone well, keep at it, Kejriwal.

There is the possibility of neither BJP nor AAP crossing the half way mark, like in 2013. This , going by voices saying assembly elections are different from Lok Sabha polls, that Shaheen Bagh and CAA don't count in this, and people not shying away from mentioning Islamic State phobia.

As the voters of Delhi seemingly choose between services, utilities and costs on the one hand, and majoritarianism on the other, the outcome will,  be based on unprecedented fake news, false videos, half truths and a fear psychosis that have marked the campaign. And similar will be the scene when Bihar goes to polls about 7 months from now.

More than one nation one election, India needs campaign reforms.


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