The 'Modi wave' was an unmistakable influence and AAP was struggling with low popularity
From among all the small and large events which happened over the month, very few can compare to the excitement that the Delhi elections generated. After a 49-day run, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government submitted its resignation in February 2014 protesting their lack of authority to bring forth positive changes. The Capital remained leaderless for almost a year, before the 2015 February elections. It was any analyst’s nightmare owing to the sheer number of micro- and macro-economic factors in play this time round. While it was easy to write off the Congress party, the odds seemed to be tipped equally for the AAP and the BJP. The ‘Modi wave’ was an unmistakable influence and the BJP wished to carry forward and ride on the hype of the national elections in 2014. BJP also recruited the ex-cop Kiran Bedi to be the face of the party’s Delhi leadership. Besides that, the party merged the national agenda with the state agenda to assure voters the benefits of a stable and experienced government.
AAP, on the other hand, was struggling with low popularity after the voters of Delhi felt cheated when Kejriwal stepped down the last time. The party’s rivals banked on this opportunity to push the party’s brand name down. The AAP’s resurgence on the political scene was slow and much more carefully crafted this time. Instead of relying too heavily on pushing other brands down, the party undertook a meticulous process through print, radio and social media to push their populist agenda. While the party had faith in its agenda, it did not fall into the trap of complacence during the campaigning phases of the elections. As one looks back on the weeks and months in the runup to the Delhi Elections 2015, one cannot fail to observe a certain level of complacency that had set in the BJP camp after its win in the National Elections. Though the party did sense failing popularity in the weeks running up to the election, its efforts perhaps came in a little too late. It is time for the BJP camp to sit and think back at the new dynamics that may come into play after losing out in the irreplaceably strategic Delhi.
What transpired as the results on February 10 was more incredible. Proving both exit polls and the AAP analysts wrong, Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP won 96 per cent of the 70 seats in the Delhi elections. What Kejriwal did right this time was to start on a new slate and take careful lessons from their last campaign. AAP’s 2015 agenda was no less populist than its 2013 agenda. The mass-media campaign revolved around servitude and humility, as opposed to the BJP campaign that had hints of arrogance. Another key factor, many say, contributing to the AAP cause were actually some initiatives of the BJP-led central government which closely resembled the foundations of AAP. They include removal of corruption, connecting to the common man, clean governance and reduction of living costs. AAP was able to use the Central government priorities to prove that their foundational campaign was aimed at the right causes. In many ways, the AAP was able to piggyback on the BJP national agenda to further their cause. Last, though debatable, many argue that “paanch saal Kejriwal” was simply catchier than the “Dilli ko thoda sa pyar chahiyein” jingle. The last one is up for debate, but it certainly seems that the man of the hour is Arvind Kejriwal.