WITH A resounding verdict in favour of the Aam Aadmi Party, the voters in Delhi have loudly expressed their mann ki baat. Never in the past had the country witnessed such a vicious campaign by any national party as the Bharatiya Janata Party did during the campaign in the national capital.
The divisive campaign was not that acute even in the previous lok sabha elections during which the party had banked more on nationalism including surgical strikes and the Balakot air strikes.
Though Delhi is not even a full fledged state, as the national capital it has residents from across the country from diverse backgrounds and various sections. It is not necessary that the elections in the national capital are always contested on national issues but the BJP did attempt to make these look like one.
AAP, to its credit, did not fall in the trap and Congress, which had ruled Delhi for three back to back terms, was no where in the picture and its performance too reflected the national mood against the party and its current leadership.
Never in the past election campaigns had anyone witnessed a union minister provoking people to shoot down whom they think were "gaddars
”. Every one with even an iota or intelligence knew who were being referred to as the "gaddars
Not only the party and the minister concerned did not regret the references, they appeared to endorse the stand and their blind followers thought that was the best way forward.
No wonder at least two of these actually showed up with pistols to shoot down the "gaddars”.
The photograph of one of these flaunting a pistol even as dozens of policemen stood silent would remain etched in public memory for long. In the other incident, the man succeeded in injuring one of the protestors. These were just a couple instances of how the gullible followers get affected by the provocative speeches by their leaders.
And these leaders obviously get their cue from their seniors.
Union home minister and former party president Amit Shah himself sought to bring in divisive politics by making the campaign "us” against "them” and telling people to press the button in such a way that the current reaches Shaheen Bagh. He made the protests against CAA at Shaheen Bagh as anti-national and backed by traitors and enemies of the state.
Fortunately prime minister Narendra Modi was more restrained in his remarks but various sections of leaders did not remain unaffected. One of them went to the extent of calling Delhi chief minister and AAP supremo Arvind Kejriwal a ‘traitor’.
Again, fortunately, Kejriwal did not fall in the trap of the BJP and refrained from getting into any controversy relating to the protests over CAA. He and his party’s focus remained on developmental work and the AAP government must be lauded for the work it had done during its tenure. There was a general consensus that the AAP government had worked sincerely for the welfare of the people.
Also read some earlier write-ups by VIPIN PUBBY:
The outcome of elections in Delhi hold big lessons for the BJP, AAP and the Congress. The ruling party at the Centre has been taking its Hindutva agenda to the extreme. Rather than coming to grips with the poor state of economy, creating jobs and attracting investment, it has remained focussed on pushing its Hindutva agenda. This has resulted in divisive politics and polarisation. It must slow down and take charge of the real issues. It must learn from its performance last year during which it won the Lok Sabha elections handsomely but within months lost five major states.
AAP has done extremely well in Delhi and deserved to retain power but it should rethink its model of party management. So far it has remained a failure outside Delhi.
Its only chance outside Delhi was squandered by imposing leaders from outside Punjab and encouraging infighting among local leaders. The party had good prospects of winning the Assembly elections in Punjab but would have to completely overhaul its party machinery to retrieve the lost ground now.
Punjab was and remains a good stepping stone for AAP’s expansion but it must bank on carefully picked and groomed local leadership.
The grand old party of the country, the Congress, has faced humiliation by not only drawing a blank but also even further reducing its vote share. Even the hard core supporters of the party, or those seeking it as an alternative to the BJP, are leaving it in hordes.
The reason is obvious - poor leadership and the insistence of the old guard to stick to the Gandhi family to save the party. It has not learnt from lessons that it must be run by leaders with merit and with regional satraps who should be given enough autonomy to function. The party needs to reinvent itself if it ever hopes to make a comeback.
(The author, a freelance journalist, is a former Resident Editor of Indian Express, Chandigarh, and reported on the political developments in Jammu and Kashmir, North-Eastern India, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Punjab in his long, illustrious career.)
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