With the MCD election results out, some important conclusions need to be drawn from it for all the important political players, ie Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) & Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) while the current stark reality for the Grand Old Congress party in the National Capital is that they are now as relevant as RWA’s in swinging elections.
In fact, they could perhaps be called the "A team of Asaduddin Owaisi" now, and for most of their spokespersons, moments of happiness are just limited to seeing BJP candidates lose.
However, since the erstwhile three Corporations now unified into one were being ruled by the BJP consecutively for no less than the last 15 years, which is eerily similar to that of Congress’s consecutive rule in the Delhi Assembly, the election results, therefore, are a referendum on the BJP's Delhi Unit & its local leaders including the MPs versus the AAP Delhi Govt, and have a few interesting pointers to them.
The erstwhile three Corporations now unified into one were being ruled by the BJP consecutively for no less than the last 15 years.
Had BJP's Delhi Unit with three Corporations under it not reversed decision, they would have still had at least one Mayor.
Local BJP Leaders use the PM's name to win but once they do, they can rarely perform as expected of them.
The only local BJP leader who punched above his weight, and managed to take the fight to the opposition and win, is former Indian ODI team Captain & East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir.
The next one year ahead of 2024 is going to be a litmus test for the AAP as it now has both the Civic & State Govt under its control.
BJP's Misses In The MCD Elections
Firstly, had the BJP Delhi unit not gotten the Central Govt to unify the three erstwhile Corporations into one, the BJP would still have had at least the East Delhi Municipal Corporation under its control.
A similarly intelligent thought had also engulfed the erstwhile Late Smt Sheila Dikshit Delhi Govt in 2012 who had convinced the then UPA Central Govt to trifurcate the till- then-unified MCD in its bid to win control in at least some but had gone on to lose all three which had led the erudite Late Mr Arun Jaitely to famously remark that thanks to the Congress, instead of one, we shall now have three Mayors in Delhi.
Had the BJP's Delhi Unit with three Corporations under it not reversed this decision and followed the suggestions of Mr Jaitely, they would have still had at least one Mayor. Therefore, those State Govts or Party Units who are underconfident of public support at local levels due to lacklustre performances or have tried to be smart by half, have repeatedly tried to tinker with the Civic structure of the Capital only to bite the dust.
Secondly, while the Prime Minister has unmatchable & searing popularity, and thus, the comeback and numbers in the MCD are majorly his credit, the metro voters by & large, do not take local elections as any kind of a referendum on his performance.
Is Brand Modi Enough for BJP in Civic Polls?
They are also acutely aware that at Civic levels, the local leadership only uses the name and popularity of the PM to win, but once they do, they are rarely seen to be able to match the standards expected of them, for eg, the large garbage dumps across the Capital as a daily painful reminder. In fact, Civic elections should also be seen as a safe reply by the voters to the preferred Central leadership about their unhappiness with the State Units or even vice versa.
Hence the BJP's Delhi Unit's leadership's arrogance has cost their party big time, and unless they pull up their socks they are likely to keep ceding space & remain on the Opposition benches.
In most areas except the traders-dominated Chandni Chowk, the middle-class voter traditionally associated with the BJP barely stepped out to even vote, which shows that the currently existing local leaders and their proteges could not even get its core voter base to come out to vote.
It shows that perhaps many of the core voters were annoyed with the local leadership, & therefore, chose the simple option of abstaining. In case of the BJP, this needs to be seen as a blunt indictment of six of its seven MPs and the State leadership unit.
Such conclusions are also true for certain leaders of the ruling AAP, which lost all the wards under the tainted & hugely controversial Satyender Jain and they would do well to get rid of him. Even their Deputy CM Manish Sisodia's political capital seems to have been singed by his name, repeatedly cropping up in the Excise policy scam as the majority of the candidates in his area have lost.
Thirdly, the only local BJP leader who has punched above his weight, and actually managed to take the fight to the opposition and win, is former Indian ODI team Captain and East Delhi MP Gautam Gambhir. Known for his leadership qualities & backing talent to the hilt even in his previous innings in Cricket, these local elections prove that he is the silver lining for the BJP in Delhi and has built public support & a good cadre base despite being a first-time MP and thus, someone who needs to be backed more prominently & coalesced around.
Can AAP Make Inroads Into Rest of India?
The next one year is also going to be a litmus test for the AAP, as it now has both the Civic & State Govt under its control. If it manages to do well & resolve core civic issues & make significant improvements, it will not only dominate the City-State's political landscape & possibly make inroads even into the General elections for the next decade, but the perception around it shall also help it greatly to expand into hitherto untouched urban areas across the country, and for this opportunity, it will have the BJP's Delhi leadership much to thank for.
Conversely, if it does not do well enough now, it shall run the risk of being decimated with disastrous consequences elsewhere too.
And last but not the least, instead of using pejorative terms such as ‘bhakt’ when someone votes for the BJP in general elections or a freebie-seeker when the same person goes with AAP in a civic or state election, reasons behind their varying choices in the same geographical areas but for different entities should not only be dispassionately deliberated but above all must also be respected by everyone.
(Dr Saurabh Sachar is a Consultant Radiologist. He tweets at @doc_sacharr. This is an opinion piece and the views expressed above are the author’s own. The Quint neither endorses nor is responsible for the same.)