How Does Delhi Vote? Key Takeaway from Delhi State Elections

To merely call Delhi’s election campaign, ‘freebie politics’ is naive. It is extremely important to layer-out the win, to understand why Delhi voted for Kejriwal in such dominance and whether this was dominance or just a product of intelligent booth management?

Party vs Persona: “Centre mai Modi, Dilli mai Kejriwal”

The elections in Delhi are reiterating the change in voting behavior from party to persona, as an evident and functional booth management policy. Micromanaging the booth in such a manner that people tend to look at it as a battle between CM than between the MLAs. It is very dangerous for a state like India because it has broken the space for the opposition.

Credit: Hindustan Times

Had this election happened at any other point of time, be it 6 months before all the tension that emerged post CAA-NRC or even 5 months later, there would have been a limited fluctuation in the result. The only significant change Shaheen Bagh could get was the higher voting percentages in Muslim dominated areas. BJP thought that using rhetoric and the problem of ‘traffic’ would help them get seats in the elections but they drove it too far. To challenge Kejriwal, rather than calling him ‘Kejruddin’ or terrorist (blatant Islamophobia).  BJP failed to bring a strong CM contender against him: Persona vs Persona.

 People tend to prefer Positive Campaign of Governance over Negativity and Abuse

Credit: PTI

Whether it was the 2014/19 elections or 2015/20 elections- positive campaigns always win over negativity, abuse and calling people terrorists. Negative publicity, more than often, aids the incumbent riding on the positive narrative of work and governance. If BJP had declared Dr. Harsh Vardhan as CM Candidate (like in 2013),  and criticized Kejriwal over his limitations such as the bickering with central government, losses incurred by PSUs, delay in construction of metros, pressure on weak students to leave classes (9-12) and pursue correspondence course, pollution crisis, and treatment of government teacher and formulated a proper manifesto over the same, under usage of Mohalla Clinics, they would have got a better placement here. But given the situation of MCD schools in Delhi, with what face they would have been able to do that? 

Infrastructure ALWAYS wins

Despite agriculture depression and farmers’ movements, Modi won in 2019 because of creating houses through PMAY, rural electrification, building toilets and building roads on target basis and Kejriwal won because of revamping schools and Mohalla clinics.

Source: PTI

People still remember Mrs. Dixit fondly (even after all the corruption) due to the work of Delhi Metro and flyovers in her tenures. What people can see through their eyes, every day, as a matter of their utility, they never forget. And post all other factors (of caste, religion, region- which do remain important), work does matter, which can be seen with our eyes.  

Who is going to talk about the anti-incumbency?

In 2020 State elections the voting margins have decreased at drastic levels. In 31 seats out of 62 seats, that AAP’s voting margin has decreased from 40,000-60,000 to the range of 10,000-20,000. Even the seats of Arvind Kejriwal and Manish Sisodia have a significant decrease (decrease in the margin by 9,886 votes and 25,584 votes respectively) questioning the popularity of the CM and Deputy CM in their constituencies.

Source: PTI

Some Ministers and popular MLAs have done fairly well- in the case of Saurabh Bharadwaj, Somnath Bharti, Rakhi Birla, Kailash Gehlot, Bhawna Gaur, Vishesh Ravi-  have maintained or got an increase in voting for AAP. It is interesting to see, for instance, Bhawna Gaur from Palam or Saurabh Bhardwaj from Greater Kailash- some of the richest areas in Delhi with (no significant influence of minority voters)  winning the seat with a higher margin than in 2015, thereby discounting the notion that vote bank of AAP is only the lower and lower-middle class. Perception and work of MLA also do matter.  BJP gained grounds from East and southeast Delhi but not from the other expected North and North-West Delhi (Haryana bordered areas).

Shaheen Bagh failed to bring out voters for BJP

With mere 62.7% of voter occupancy and the heavy amount of Muslim voters that came out to vote, it has been clear that BJP could not draw out voters in their support. It is also clear that their “CAA-NRC has nothing to do with Indian Muslims” has not been bought by the Indian Muslims and “they will enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters” was not bought by the Indian Hindus. BJP was trying to woo the “Brahman-Baniya-Jaat” conglomeration through all this ruckus.

BJP should have concentrated more on the middle class and lower middle class to come out and vote, with an ambitious plan with a vision that could have been bought. A vision over just basic affordability of utility-based services- a vision where they could do something creditworthy through law and order- use their ability to be in the center at power. A vision where they could sell a dream of making Delhi an internationally recognized city.

And finally, Amit Shah needs to leave Ministry of Home Affairs and return as the Party President if he really wants BJP to start winning again- this half-hearted approach of abuse, with an entire backing of internet trolls, Whatsapp and friends in the Media- will not work in the State Elections.

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