The unprecedented victory of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the Delhi Assembly polls clearly indicates that the honeymoon of the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre is virtually over and unless the Prime Minister and his team perform and deliver on their promises of governance, things could even deteriorate further. Arvind Kejriwal’s party’s victory over its opponents shall go down in history as the only instance till date where a political outfit got nine-tenth of the total seats and came to power on strength of over 50% of total votes cast in an election. In some ways, it is perhaps the greatest democratic wins of all times and thus puts the onus of delivery also on the victors. They too have to be always conscious that if they fail to perform and do not live up to the expectations of the people, they too could face consequences similar to the consequences faced by an over confident Bharatiya Janata Party. Kejriwal must ensure that his government is not viewed like a treadmill government at any point and learn from the casual approach of the Central government, which had got a massive mandate in 2014 but does not seem to be moving forward and is still stuck in an obsolete campaign mode.
The USP of Modi so far had been his emphasis on good governance and development, evidence of which was not visible in the last nine months. If Kejriwal, who was described by the Prime Minister as an anarchist and Naxalite and by others as a thief or a monkey and was accused in BJP ads as someone who belonged to the caste of miscreants, has to emerge stronger, he must prove that he can also be a good administrator. If he does that he would be able to hijack the good governance and development agenda from the BJP, which is also reeling under the impact of hate speeches delivered by many Sangh Parivar members in the last six months. These loose cannons must be reined in and told to behave in strict terms. Unless this is done, the Modi graph shall go down to a point of no return.
The BJP must introspect and do course correction immediately. It must demonstrate that it is different from the Congress and is willing to accept and correct mistakes. The party must respect its local leaders in various states and not try to impose loyalists of Modi and Amit Shah. Every worker and leader must show allegiance to the party before showing it for any individual leader. The BJP should know the reason why it has been left smarting under a huge humiliation. It must go back to the drawing board and revise its strategy. It has the advantage that it still has Modi as its spearhead. It should build on his hard work in the 2014 polls and not get caught in the politics of arrogance. The Congress paid a big price for it and if the BJP continues in its present method, it shall also meet the same fate. The over exposure of Modi as a campaigner and the political idiom used in the Delhi polls has backfired and there are lessons to be learnt in this.
Kejriwal is having the last laugh since the BJP never looked at him realistically. The major part of the Congress vote share in the 2013 Assembly polls and some portion of the BJP share in that election shifted towards him in 2015. In the process, he managed to make Delhi “Congress Mukt” and almost did the same thing to the BJP, which had won all the seven Lok Sabha seats nine months ago and led in 60 out of 70 Assembly segments at that time. The BJP this time suffered unimaginable reverses in seats it had never lost. These seats include Janakpuri, Moti Nagar and Krishna Nagar from where Kiran Bedi, the Chief Ministerial nominee was vanquished.
The scale of the defeat in Delhi is going to pose problems for the Modi government during the budget session. It shall have to use the experience of its more experienced leaders to keep the opposition at bay in the Rajya Sabha in particular. Its vision document shall be used by Kejriwal to pin it down on promises made to the people of Delhi. It is in a mess of its own creation. In addition, the BJP has also lost claim over the three Rajya Sabha seats from the capital, which shall fall vacant in 2017 since the winner (AAP) shall take them all.
The Delhi pools have dented Modi’s invincible image. But that does not mean that he cannot make a comeback. He can do so if he acts sensibly and without unnecessary arrogance. He has come up the hard way. This is a wake-up call for him. Time to rework his strategy. Between us.