New Delhi: Delhi’s vote is a statement against hate. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) tried to legitimise hate speech and tried to divide Hindus and Muslims, but was swept away on Wednesday by an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) avalanche.
The BJP bagged eight of 70 Assembly seats, a gain of merely five from the last Assembly poll in 2015.
Riding high on the education, health and conventional “bijli, sadak, paani” agenda, the Chief Min-ister Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP returned to power in style for the third time with 62 seats, a loss of only five.
The Congress’s pathetic plight continued as it yet again failed to open its account. Sixty-seven of its candidates (including four allies) lost their deposits. A candidate must poll at least one-sixth of the total votes polled to reclaim their `10,000 deposit.
Repeated electoral routs put a question mark on the Gandhi clan’s leadership, which shows no inclination of loosening its grip.
Taking a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s mann ki baat, former ally Shiv Sena chief and Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray described the AAP’s victory as jaan ki baat.
For the BJP, this election was all about demonising the anti-Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) protests, especially at Delhi’s Shaheen Bagh and Jamia Millia Islamia, and its high-decibel campaign was focused on attacking the Muslim community and equating the party’s rivals with terrorists.
To peddle its jingoism and anti-minority rheto-ric, the BJP unleashed an army of Union ministers, chief ministers, MPs and the entire RSS machinery, turning the election into a fight between India and Pakistan. Frenzied rants of “Goli maro ga****ro ko” dominated its campaign, drawing mild punitive action from the Election Commission of India.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the face of hardline Hindutva, campaigned in Delhi’s 15 constituencies and asked voters to install a BJP gover-nment in Delhi that would promote all religions, but added that where “boli (words) doesn’t work, goli (bullet) does.” He went on to describe biryani as the food of anti-nationals.
With economic slowdown, rapidly rising inflation and unemployment, the BJP has time and again fallen back on the politics of majoritarianism and polarising voters ahead of polls on religious lines.
It was perhaps for the first time that Delhi witnessed such an ugly campaign replete with hate and brazen attempts to turn one community against the other.
The BJP unleashed its bigwigs in a way it hasn’t before. Party president J.P. Nadda addressed the maximum number of rallies and roadshows in Delhi — 62 — followed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s 52.
PM Modi addressed two big rallies as part of the BJP blitzkrieg of 6,577 poll events, including rallies, roadshows and meetings. As his opponents spewed venom, Delhi CM Kejriwal deftly blended development with soft Hindutva and crossed the finishing line, leaving the BJP far behind and gasping for breath.
Beating the BJP at its own game, he recited the Hanuman Chalisa on a TV show, tweeted a video of himself as a “Hanuman bhakt” and promised a curriculum of “desh bhakti” in his party manifesto. He kept away from Shaheen Bagh, making it difficult for the BJP to link him with the anti CAA-NRC protests. A frustrated BJP continued to accuse him of supplying biryani to protestors and I&B minister, Prakash Javadekar, virtually called him a terrorist.
Kejriwal did not go out of his way to woo Muslims. He knew they had no alternative but to vote for him. And they moved en masse towards him.
While earlier saffron hawks found talking about Shaheen Bagh and spewing anti-minority venom masterstrokes, after the rout in Delhi leaders began questioning the “masters” behind closed doors. A BJP leader felt that the top leadership “failed to judge the cosmopolitan nature of Delhi and tried to sell hate.”
Some felt the BJP’s move to bank on PM Modi and the failure to come up with a CM face also contributed to its rout. In fact, the party remained divided over a CM face. While some pushed for Manoj Tiwari, others wanted Dr Harsh Vardhan.
The results could now have an impact on forthcoming polls in Bihar and Bengal. AAP leaders told volunteers: “What happened in Delhi can expand to the whole country.”...