Delhi Election Result: What This Means for BJP, Oppn & CAA Stir

Delhi Election Result: What This Means for BJP, Oppn & CAA Stir

Politics

The Aam Aadmi Party has come back to power in Delhi, winning close to 90 percent of the seats and about 54 percent of the votes. But let’s look at the national picture. The results have important lessons for everyone.

What Does This Mean for BJP?

For the BJP, the key lesson is that you can’t win elections on polarisation alone. BJP’s entire campaign was centred around Shaheen Bagh, from Parvesh Verma calling them rapists to Amit Shah urging voters to send an electric shock into the area. In the end what did it achieve? Amanatullah Khan, the AAP candidate in Okhla, in which Shaheen Bagh falls, won by one of the highest margins in the state. Even a major chunk of Hindus voted for him. On the other hand, BJP performed poorly in most of the areas where Amit Shah, Yogi Adityanath and Parvesh Verma made inflammatory statements.

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Can AAP Go National?

For the Aam Aadmi Party, winning another term in power with a massive majority would naturally make it want to expand nationally. With Prashant Kishor on the party's side, it won’t be surprising if Arvind Kerjriwal is pitched as a national alternative to Modi. But here’s the catch. A majority of AAP voters in Delhi are also Modi voters. And they may not be particularly happy if Kejriwal decides to take on Modi. Also, AAP has used Delhi’s status as a state with limited powers to steer clear of contentious national issues. If it wants to go national, it may not have this luxury.

Lessons for the National Opposition

For the Opposition in general, the lesson is a bit more complex. The Congress’ dismal performance is of course a major setback. But the AAP’s win has given the Opposition a model of defeating the BJP - by focussing on governance issues and avoiding engaging with the BJP on the communal vs secular narrative. This model isn’t specific to AAP.

Even the Congress followed this model in states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan with pretty decent results. AAP’s resounding win would make it tempting for leaders like say Mamata Banerjee to keep their focus on populism and state-specific issues. This may work in state elections but might not be very helpful as far as weaving a national narrative against Narendra Modi is concerned.

Challenge for Anti-CAA Protesters

The Delhi election was also a test for the people protesting against the CAA in various parts of Delhi. The challenge for them was to preserve their voice even amidst calls to tactically back down so that the BJP doesn’t get a chance to “polarise voters”.

The protesters made two clear choices. First, they didn’t get cowed down by the BJP’s vicious campaign against them. And second, they decided to tactically back the AAP and not the Congress. AAP won with huge margins in almost every seat where protests are taking place, be it Okhla Seelampur, Mustafabad, Seemapuri, Matia Mahal or Ballimaran. In some booths with a high concentration of Muslims, AAP got almost 90 percent of the votes.

In the future too, the challenge for this section would be to ensure that their voices are heard, even amidst crackdown from the government or despite calls to tactically withdraw for the sake of “secular” parties.

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