What people elsewhere want: the Kejriwal model

By Vijaya Pushkarna

There is a decided lightness in the air around the national capital on the day after the assembly election results were out. People who were scared to give away their party preference even to those conducting exit polls are unabashed in expressing their relief over the victory of the Aam Aadmi Party.
The voting per cent age share of the Bharatiya Janata Party notwithstanding, there is talk of the " Delhi model" of governance__ many even call it the Kejriwal model. And discussions centre around the scalability of this " model". So far, AAP leaders have,coyly and modestly , maintained they are aiming at no more than fulfilling their promises to the Delhi electorate,and doing their work in the capital.

That is a big departure from the party's aspiration when it was a babe in the arms of its chief, the Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and audacious in its dreams.In the Lok Sabha elections of 2014, the baby party contested 432 seats. Kejriwal himself faced the Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate, Narendra Modi, in Varanasi. It won just four seats -- all in Punjab. It was washed out in the national capital that would later want only Arvind Kejriwal as chief minister.

Buoyed by that, the party fielded 112 candidates in the Punjab legislative assembly elections of March 2017.The state vidhan sabha has 117 seats, though AAP won only 20 it became the main opposition party,and bagged the post of the leader of the opposition! But in the Goa assembly polls held simultaneously, the party contested 39 of the 40 seats; lost all, and 38 candidates even lost their deposit.

In the last Lok Sabha elections -- May 2019--, the AAP fielded 40 candidates, across nine states, but won a solitary seat in Punjab.

Clearly, the scaling up should not be all India, but Punjab , where Vidhan Sabha polls are due in Feb 2022, can be the next target for Kejriwal.

In 2017 assembly elections, the party's manifesto and campaign style were not at all like what has come to be called the "Delhi model". They know the state is different from the city-state of Delhi capital territory. They had a sector-wise manifesto-- electricity, education, health and so on.Drug menace was eating at the vitals of the state, so that was the party's focus.

Punjab is about two times Delhi. The state has 13 Lok Sabha constituencies to Delhi's 7. There are 117 assembly seats to the capital's 70.Goa could be half the size-- with 40 Vidhan Sabha seats and 2 Parliamentary constituencies.

The demographics are different in these states and within them, vary. A district wise plan and not the Delhi model, may work in the states, including these two where the party has some experience. Though the Delhi poll showing has made many states want an AAP kind of government,it would be wise if the party does not to spread themselves too thin.

But who does not want good schools, good health care, good services delivered honestly? And a check on the discoms, an eye on the purity of water?

AAP chould , therefore, consider how the politics of work can be introduced in elections elsewhere. Starting from Bihar this September. It will be a potent weapon against divisive and polarising campaign that the state is bound to see. Poll strategist Prashant Kishore is no longer with the Janata Dal (United), and if anyone knows Bihar next only to Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, it is Kishore.


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