The big story, of course, in the latest round of Assembly elections is the rise and rise of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi and the consequent decimation of the Congress. (The ‘Mango Man’ comment has really come around to bite a certain gentleman with a vengeance.) Indeed, if anything prevented the party from getting a majority in the Vidhan Sabha was the muscle provided by Narendra Modi’s charisma to the BJP. Such was the support for AAP and the disgust with the Congress, that even the BJP’s traditional vote bank and organised cadre could not harvest the massive anti-incumbency adequately enough. However, it was clear to everybody, except the blinkered sycophants of the Congress, that the party didn’t have a hope in the elections.
Although attempts are being made to delink the election results from the national scenario, it is a fact that two of the Congress’ reasonable performers had to face the brunt of the anger with the Central Government. Delhi and Rajasthan were Congress strongholds but the party has been totally wiped out in both states. The BJP victory would have been overwhelming in Delhi had it not been for AAP. The people obviously want a change, but also something that offers a genuine alternative if it is available. AAP is a ‘new’ style of politics, but at the national level, this alternative is offered by Modi (at the present).
These results clearly show that the people are no longer bound to the traditional forms of politics and maneuvering. A substantial number of them can think beyond the box. If the BJP has to make an effective bid at national politics, it will need to make inroads now in the caste bastions of UP and Bihar. The Modi effect – in the absence of an AAP like ideology – can be expected to sway at least the urban millions in these states. If BJP gets even a total of 40 seats – a very conservative number – from here, it can go on to bigger things. As for the South, the economic argument could prove the clincher, because the indecisiveness of the Congress, as well as its inability to get rid of a Socialist mindset, has prevented that region to build on its advantages to the extent it could.
Going by the Delhi vote, it is obvious that the AAP ideology is the new alternative to the BJP – can it in the future, not necessarily in 2014, provide a choice to those looking to get out of the grip of caste and community? The Congress’ miserable show indicates that it has been abandoned by all those it considered held ‘captive’ by deliberately induced fears. So far, anti-Congress feeling was diverted to third front parties, allowing it to survive on the basis of ‘divide and rule’. However, if it is overtaken by the BJP and the respective regional party, and rendered hors de combat altogether, it is possible that government can be formed at the Centre, with regional groupings as the principal opposition, leaving the Congress out of the equation altogether.
The people of Delhi have shown that they can think out of the box and grab the opportunity when it presents itself. The rest of the nation can take inspiration from this and break out of the stranglehold of the past compulsions that keep them mired in poverty and lack of development. The emergence of Arvind Kejriwal as the new kid on the block indicates the preference for a ‘new’ India that now produces leaders of merit who do not require the cache of dynasty, privilege or money to win elections. India needs many more of the same.