The overwhelming mandate for the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi Assembly elections indicates a great clarity in the minds of modern day Indian voters. This phenomenon seems to be even more evident in a highly urbanised state such as Delhi. It would seem that the ‘distributive justice’ practiced by Chief Minister Kejriwal has been liked by most sections of society. An electorate that gave a decisive and one-sided victory to the BJP in the Lok Sabha Election has behaved completely differently in another context. This can only be possible if people have learned to distinguish between local and national elections. The old conformity in voter behaviour has been consciously discarded. This was witnessed earlier in the contrasting mandates delivered in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Political parties will have to take this factor into consideration even more in future contests.
The BJP was hoping to do much better in Delhi, if not entirely upend Kejriwal. It had expected the Shaheen Bagh protests to overcome other considerations and tilt the scales in its favour, but it was not to be. In fact, it would seem that people are not much concerned about the politics involved in the JNU, Jamia Millia Islamia and similar protests, believing these are better ignored as they have nothing to do with local issues. The party will also rue, in hindsight, its unwillingness to project a chief ministerial face owing to factionalism within its ranks. In Delhi and other states, it will have to go the extra yard in promoting leaders with the ability to lead the cadres without looking over their shoulders towards the national leadership.
The AAP now has a clear road ahead in pursuing further the policies that have received a thumbs-up from the masses. Kejriwal will, of course, be tempted to renew his bid for a national level profile, as he had done for much of his earlier stint. He will have to recognise that it has been by reining in his national ambitions that he retained the support of an electorate that has clearly stated its national preference for Modi in the very same opinion polls that predicted the present result. He could, of course, become an important part of a national coalition that might emerge against the BJP.
It is, of course, a sad story for the Congress as it watches others occupy the opposition space. Even if the BJP is unseated in the next round of national elections, it is highly unlikely that the grand old party will be the primary beneficiary. At best, it will constitute the tail as is presently the case in Maharashtra. Recovery of any significant kind seems a remote possibility under its present leadership. Some might think that this would actually be for the nation’s ultimate good.