A Party that didn’t sweep the streets for 10 years has swept the MCD polls again. Here’s why..

Someone on a social network commented that when Roman emperor realised they had nothing much to show to public. He invented gladiators and all the show to distract people from real issues of governance and growth. And people did oblige. We saw something similar with respect to Delhi Municipal Elections as well where the core issues were hardly discussed. It was just a issue of which personality will win.

What was also interesting was the way media put up the contest. Most channels and papers told news in a way which made it look BJP was the opposing party and given how elections have been recently, was about to sweep this one as well. We were hardly told BJP has been ruling MCD for 10 years and was actually the incumbent.

Yogendra Yadav who joined the Swaraj party but could not win a single seat dissects the results:

Why did the people of Delhi vote for a non-performing ruling party? Clearly, the answer does not lie in EVM tampering. Instead of making such rash and irresponsible allegations, BJP’s political opponents like myself acknowledge the fact that BJP is winning because the people are voting for it.

Clearly, those who voted for the BJP did not think they were rewarding the non-performing MCDs. The BJP managed to detach this election from the difficult municipal issues. Instead, it distracted the voters and the media into discussing nationalism, Kashmir, cow slaughter and national security – issues that have no bearing on the MCDs. It also managed to deflect popular anger against its sitting councillors by deciding not to re-nominate any of them. The Aam Aadmi Party also contributed to this decoupling of the elections from the real municipal issues by making it a personality contest. The AAP campaign was all about turning this election into a personal referendum for Kejriwal. Some of the hoardings did not even carry the name of his own party. Smaller players like Swaraj India, constrained by lack of resources and media attention, tried to bring the debate to municipal issues, but with very limited success.

In the end, the MCD polls became a simple popularity contest between Arvind Kejriwal and Narendra Modi and the people of Delhi appear to have chosen the PM over the CM. This cannot be explained by the ‘magical Modi wave’ sweeping across the country. We just need to remember that the Modi wave was no less strong in 2015 when the BJP bit the dust in the Delhi assembly elections. If anything, the PM’s popularity was a shade higher at that point, having scored an unprecedented victory in Maharashtra and Haryana following his Lok Sabha success. Unlike now, his party did not face any local anti-incumbency either. The Congress and the AAP were the prior incumbents then. We cannot escape the difficult question: Why did the Modi wave fail to work in 2015 and appears to be working in 2017?

The difference lies in Delhi’s experience with the AAP government since February 2015. Within a few months of coming to power, AAP lost its moral sheen. Its promise of good governance also turned hollow as the government had little to show for its track record except a partial reduction in electricity bills and additional funds for school education. Instead, the government has been busy playing blame games against the Central government and its representative, the lieutenant governor. No doubt some of these complaints are valid. But an over-reliance on this blame game has left the people of Delhi – like my Ola driver – sick and tired. The personality cult of Kejriwal is beginning to boomerang as he loses this personal referendum. The AAP’s meteoric rise now threatens to turn into a meteoric fall.

The dance of Indian politics…

3 Responses to “A Party that didn’t sweep the streets for 10 years has swept the MCD polls again. Here’s why..”

  1. vikramml Says:

    Are you not entertained? 😀

  2. Anantha Nageswaran Says:

    A very good post. Personality cult – the curse of India!

  3. Amol Agrawal Says:

    Thanks Anna. Indeed!

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