Mango man over the broom

It wasn’t the Modi juggernaut but a fledgling AAP that took Delhi by a storm, all to the credit of a vibrant democracy  

Souzeina Mushtaq Delhi 

For 50-year-old Seema, a domestic worker in Delhi, the results of the Delhi Assembly elections meant a great deal. All her life, she had voted for the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but this year, she decided to vote for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). As the counting started on Sunday morning, Seema was glued to the television set, eager about the outcome. The results sent the Congress on a downward spiral after a 15-year rule, managing to win only eight seats. The BJP was the biggest gainer, winning 32 seats in the 70-member assembly. But it was the spectacular debut of AAP that brought a cheer to Seema. The AAP had managed to bag 28 seats, with party chief Arvind Kejriwal routing the three-time Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit from her own New Delhi constituency by a margin of 25,864 votes. Though the AAP trailed behind in Seema’s own Paalam area, she was happy that it had managed a sizeable tally. When asked why she voted for AAP, Seema, an illiterate mother of five, quipped, “There was an AAP wave and I decided to go for it.” 

Barely a year old, the AAp was an outcome of the 2011 anti-corruption churning, called India Against Corruption, and helmed by the likes of Kejriwal. They had been demanding to draft a Jan Lokpal bill, an independent body to investigate corruption cases. The government employee-turned-activist-turned-politician Kejriwal decided to politicize the movement and formally launch his party after his differences with social activist Anna Hazare. Since then, the party has been trying to reach the common man with the promise of Swaraj (self-rule), brandishing the party's election symbol, the broom, to “sweep out the rubbish that has accumulated over the decades.” Though ridiculed by rivals and critics, the 45-year-old Kejriwal was not deterred, even saying, “If politics is dirty, you can clean it up only by dirtying your hands.”

 

Nearly 12 million Delhi residents voted to send representatives to the 70-member Delhi Assembly. While some analysts were skeptical of AAP’s prospects, and while some called them a “spoilsport” party, the AAP shocked everyone by its remarkable performance. The BJP state president Vijay Goel admitted surprise at their win, “We always thought of AAP as competition and we were expecting it to get double digit seats but this is surprising,” he told the media. “We have done all the hard work in Delhi in the last 15 years but now AAP is reaping the benefits,” he added.

 

With no clear majority to any party, and AAP ruling out an alliance with either the BJP or Congress, a hung assembly is being predicted in Delhi. Some analysts are also refuting the ‘Modi wave’. “The BJP’s wins in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan were predictable. We have seen the trend in the past years. If there was any Modi wave, it should have reaped good results in Delhi and Chhattisgarh, but the BJP has not been able to get clear majority,” said an observer, adding, “There is a desperate need for a third front at the National level.”