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The exit polls have not delivered very good news for any party except, maybe, the Aam Aadmi Party. AAP is expected to win the MCD polls with a thumping majority, which is what it wanted in the first place. It remains to be seen if this dominance will continue into the Lok Sabha elections, or whether the Delhi voter will continue to vote for PM Modi and the BJP at the national level.

AAP is also believed to have obtained a large number of votes in Gujarat, even though these are not translating into seats. It is obvious that, if the exit polls are right, it has played a major role in destroying whatever hope the Congress had of returning to power. This is because there is great overlap in the two parties’ vote base. Although caste politics plays a major role in Gujarat, the arithmetic of which is very difficult for an outsider to work out, the Muslim vote seems to have deserted Congress in pretty large numbers in favour of AAP.

It is clear that AAP is increasingly becoming the preferred choice of the anti-incumbency vote. People are tired of shifting between the traditional parties, which they feel have nothing new to offer; so they are willing to try something new. This is a phenomenon that must be taken note of by the major parties. While Congress has been damaged more because of being out of power, the BJP, too, should remain alert and examine the causes for a certain section’s disillusionment. The predicted defeat in Delhi should communicate the right lessons.

The BJP should ask itself why, despite PM Modi’s immense popularity and its massive hold over power, the AAP has dominated the MCD polls. This very obviously has to do with the performance of BJP’s municipal corporators. Despite the obvious advantages of being part of the ruling party at the Centre, which holds most of the purse strings, the BJP corporators did such a miserable job that AAP’s freebie populism could prevail. It is only a matter of time before such disillusionment spreads to other states.

The BJP must get its elected representatives at every level to not just understand the party’s economic and social policies, but also have the ability to implement them at the ground level. By failing to provide good governance through their own performance, they are surrendering power and the voters into the hands of AAP like outfits that have nothing to deliver beyond undeliverable promises. Otherwise, India may have to go through a disastrous phase of populism – the kind that destroyed much of Latin America’s economies.