The Delhi election results caught the whole nation by surprise. If a couple of months ago if someone were to predict that the AAP were on course to win 67 of the 70 seats in Delhi, he/she would've been on the receiving end of a barrage of ridicule and mockery. A talk of an AAP upset did grow stronger as the day of the elections approached. But no one in their wildest dreams, not even Arvind Kejriwal would've seen this coming.
So what went wrong for the BJP? The same BJP who went from strength to strength just over a year ago and formed the Union Ministry with a strong majority were beaten convincingly in Delhi. It wasn't just one or two factors but a number of factors which resulted in their collapse in Delhi. Last year when Narendra Modi came into power he promised the nation 'Ache Din', he promised economic stability, he promised to bring down the oil prices, he promised to bring back black money to the country stashed away in offshore accounts within 10 days, along with many other promises about industrial growth etc. Now almost a year into his term the 'Ache Din' is not so 'Ache' as it turns out.
Communal tension has risen across the nation, the 'Ghar Wapsi' (converting minorities to Hinduism) in some parts of the country have caused outrage. There has been no news about the black money in offshore bank accounts. The price of crude oil has come down from $147 to $45 in the last few months but the price of petrol in India is still touching the 70/litre mark. It's wishful thinking to expect a more stable economy than when the UPA government was in power. Despite the UPA's treacherous run towards the end of their reign they did manage to stabilize the economy contrary to popular belief. India was among the few nations that didn't feel the effects of the recession to a great extent. The Indian economy is predicted to grow further in the coming years, but some predict a slower growth rate from now on.
Narendra Modi's expensive visits abroad alienated some of his voters. But what turned out to be crucial in his decline in popularity was the visit of US President Barack Obama. It was reminiscent of a soap opera. Modi was like a kid trying to impress the most popular kid in school. His reportedly $16,000 dollar suit with his name etched onto the fabric further alienated voters. Despite the media hyped 'bromance' between Modi and Obama, the latter concluded his visit with a parting shot. In his speech he said, "India will succeed as long as it's not splintered on religious lines". That comment struck a few nerves. Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh tried to diffuse the situation by saying that the comment was rather "unfortunate".
In the run up to the Delhi elections it was clear Kiran Bedi was standing on thin ice. It was well publicized that she had tweeted a few anti-Modi tweets a few years ago. So people were naturally skeptical when she joined the BJP last year. Bedi's tearful 'thank you' to the people of Delhi during an event didn't win her many fans either. It turned out to be a failed publicity stunt. The lack of a proper BJP manifesto didn't sit well with many. In the penultimate week of the elections a few news channels in Delhi were blocked by local cable operators as they showed statistics claiming Arvind Kejriwal had the upper hand. Social media exploded after hearing this news. If there's anything to be learned from BJP's thumping win in 2013 national elections was that, winning the social media battle was everything. And the AAP did just that. The people of Delhi took Modi's 'Swatch Bharat' a little too literally and voted for the party with the broom as its symbol.
Arvind Kejriwal for his part did more than his bit to emerge triumphant. The AAP worked their socks off. They met the potential voters in person and promised the people a better Delhi. Kejriwal projected an image of himself as a man one among the locals - the 'Aam Admi'. Now it remains to be seen if he is just all talk or if he can back it up. He'll certainly make sure that he stays in office a lot longer than 49 days this time around. But on the off chance he does feel twitchy and thinks about resigning again, he might as well kiss his political career good bye.
The whole Bedi vs Kejriwal has left Ajay Maken and the Congress Party in the cold. By no stretch of the imagination are they on the road to recovery. Rahul Gandhi should think about taking a sabbatical and let sister Priyanka take over the reins. Even though that seems to be the logical solution it seems highly unlikely due to a number of reasons. For now it's Kejriwal's stage and he's running the show. He better make most of his time because the BJP aren't going to just sit there and wait for him to resign.