By Vidya Bhushan Rawat
The Delhi results are out. Aam Admi Party i.e AAP has won decisively and with a massive mandate, again. This is unique and remarkable: for a party to repeat its performance. With nearly the same vote percentage AAP has won 62 seats out of 70 while the BJP has had to console itself with 8 seats though it got nearly 38.58% of the vote. The Congress party has remained at zero as was the case in the last polls, pulling in Less than 5% vote.
I have always questioned the first past the post system as it is unfair. With a 38% vote a party gets merely 8 seats! The BJP is crying and consoling itself with the vote percentage today. However through the same skewed system, it gained massively during the Lok Sabha polls: with less than this vote percentage it won nearly 70% of the seats in the Lok Sabha.
The AAP victory has consoled many people who now feel that the BJP and Narendra Modi will may learn some lessons, that the arrogant campaign would stop now. Some people have even suggested that Delhi’s people have voted for ‘Bijli-sadak-pani’ and defeated the divisive and hate filled campaigned launched by the BJP.
It is true that the amount of hatred that BJP and its top leadership created in this election was unprecedented. Delhi never saw such kind of filth and vireol in poll language that the Ministers and senior ministers utterer one by one, terming Indian Muslims particularly those living participating at Shaheen Bagh protests as anti national. None less than a union minister, Prakash Javdekar, even called Arvind Kejriwal as terrorist. Some ministers even asked their supporters to fire at the dissenters and protesters. Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Ajay Bisht used the filthiest language ‘boli se nahi goli se baat karenge’. If any other person had spoken that language, the media as well as the Delhi police would have filed cases of sedition against such a person. Clearly, BJP leaders enjoy complete immunity, are free to speak anything and get away with it.
Arvind kejriwal has learnt the art of politics and he used the BJP’s targetting him as terrorist in his campaign. ‘Do I look like terrorist’ he would say, and perhaps this touched a chord with the people though neither Kejriwal nor Narendra Modi can really tell us what a terrorist actually looks like! This then was most unfortunate part of this campaign. Rather than taking the BJP head on and challenging their narrative, political parties are now succumbing to their pressure and trying to prove they are ‘more’ Hindu than the Sanghis. Arvind Kejriwal chanted the Hanuman Chalisa and refused to speak anything on the Shaheen Bagh protests. He did not utter a single word on the JNU and Jamia incidents. Even the Gargi college incident went unreported and only today has the Delhi Commission for Women taken note of it.
Kejriwal was not merely silent on Shaheen Bagh protests but he actually claimed that they were ‘disturbing’ the traffic. It was the same Kejriwal, who never bothered to stop everything in Delhi and the whole Anna movement sponsored by the Sangh Parivar, refused to listen to the Parliament and claim all the people participating in his Ram Leela Ground rally were the ‘real’ India.
AAP has got huge support from the Muslim majority areas as well as all the 12 reserved constituencies have been won by the AAP with a massive mandate.
While, it is good that AAP focused on governance yet we must not forget that AAP is essentially an upper caste party whose major cadres are similar to those in Sangh Parivar and would anyway like to vote to BJP than any secular party in case AAP does not exist. Secondly, the AAP is also product of anti reservation forces, so it is important how AAP tackles the issue of communalism and reservation in coming days.
The issue of governance is important but you can not deny the fact the Sangh Parivar has vitiated the atmosphere in the last 10 years. Any party who want to just claim to focus on ‘Bijli-sadak-pani’ but refuses to speak on issues such as CAA, NRC, communalism and the systematic isolation of India’s 15-20% Muslim population can not fight this crude hatred, politically. We can understand that Muslims have voted for AAP overwhelmingly despite the party’s absolute and disappointing response to the whole issue. AAP has, to date, not even sought clarification on the Delhi police brutalities inflicted on students in Jamia, JNU and Seelampur. By deliberately keeping quiet, AAP actually ensured that the upper caste votebank remained with them. Long term however, while such silence may benefit them politically, it will not provide a bullwark be against the forces of communalism.
That is why, while we appreciate AAP’s victory, we must not ignore the fact that BJP has won nearly 39% votes of the people of Delhi. Secondly, AAP has not challenged BJP ideologically and since Delhi’s people are relatively educated and given AAP’s upper caste background, the Delhi voters voted for the same. Delhi voters will not vote on social justice issues and they may still get influenced by BJP’s narrative. Dont get me wrong, the narrative that BJP has built will rwmain out there –an elephant in the room — to be whipped up at will.
AAP has defeated BJP but the fact is that Hindutva has won. RSS has always fancied that while even if they are not in power, their Hindutva agenda must work. Today, political parties have gone bankrupt as they are unable to challenge this brahmanical hegemony and the main reason is that most of the parties in India are Savarna or brahmin dominated and hence wont challenge the Sangh narrative but only try to prove that they are better Hindus.
There is also a fact that any party other than Congress will be better equipped to challenge the BJP in the state. Anti BJP voters will vote only those forces who are better equipped to defeat BJP. Congress lost in Delhi because the Dalits and Muslims felt that Congress was not in a position to defeat BJP. This will happen in other states as the BJP’s intimidation and oppression has increased so much that people will prefer any party which is better placed to defeat BJP. Congress and all other parties must introspect and build an alliance. For atleast next ten years, all like minded parties who swear by secularism, social justice, federalism and constitutionalism must join hand and contest those places where they are in a position to defeat BJP. We know most of the parties dont believe that they are losing but it is time they leave this manipulation and think according to previous elections and then contest jointly. Akhilesh Yadav in UP, Tejasvi in Bihar, Mamta in Bengal, Stalin in Tamilnadu, Udhav-Sharad Pawar-Congress in Maharashtra should take the lead. In all other places where the parties dont exists, they should stop fielding candidates.
Delhi election shows that people will not vote for highly divisive agendas. They dont appreciate foul language. There may be some bhakts who jump at such language but at the end of the day, people would prefer governance. It is also a fact that people remain polarised and parties need to make out, and re build, the secular narrative powerfully and creatively, not to feel guilty about it.
Democracy without secularism and social justice cant survive and therefore, Delhi’s poll outcome are good in terms of pushing a pro people agenda. Sombrely, we need to also reflect that the communal and sectarian virus has not been fully defeated. For that to happen, we need strong political leaders who can reach out to minorities, Dalits, OBCs and tribals and ensure their fair representation and participation in power structure. You cant build a narrative without an enabling environment and without proportional representation of India’s diverse communities. India must feel proud of its constitution and its historic and inclusive legacy of the freedom movement. Political parties need to own that and defeat the communal and sectarian forces permanently. Evading the communal question will only strengthen the Hindutva forces even if the other parties win, it is their agenda which will run the government which at the end will be detrimental for the health of democracy itself. Ideologically weak forces suits BJP politically as it will be free from any strong opponent nationally and the party knows it well that it can ‘handle’ them well.
For the moment, we congratulate AAP for its historic victory and hope it will continue to focus on issues concerning the common people and will not shy away from taking a strong stand on the CAA and NRC.