New Delhi: Delhi voters have delivered a massive blow to the BJP in the assembly elections with the trends showing the party, which put up a valiant fight to dislodge the Arvind Kejriwal government, leading in just 7 of the 70 seats.
According to the Election Commission website as of 4.20 pm, the AAP has won 13 seats and is leading in 50.
In the run-up to the elections, the BJP had made the anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh its central poll plank to counter the AAP’s development narrative.
A number of factors seemed to have gone against the BJP in this election, but the biggest of them was the absence of a local heavyweight to counter Kejriwal, who built his election narrative solely around governance and development.
Absence of a strong local leader
The biggest problem with the BJP in Delhi was the absence of a strong local leader.
After former CMs Madan Lal Khurana and Sahib Singh Verma, the party has not been able to cultivate strong leaders in the national capital.
Senior leader Vijay Goel doesn’t have a mass base and Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari has appeal in certain pockets, but he doesn’t have any track record of good governance.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan was an option but the BJP had experimented with him earlier. With Harsh Vardhan as its CM face in 2013, the BJP had won 33 seats, but fell short of the majority mark, opening the door for the AAP to form the government with help from the Congress.
In the 2015 assembly election, the BJP had made former IPS officer Kiran Bedi its CM face and ended up with just three seats out of 70 as the AAP swept to power.
Under such a scenario, the BJP relied on Union Home Minister Amit Shah and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lead the campaign.
The absence of strong regional faces is a crisis that’s plaguing the BJP not just in Delhi, but in other states as well.
Unable to raise local issues
The BJP solely focused on communal polarisation in its campaign and every party leader raised the Shaheen Bagh issue without fail.
The party did not talk about local issues at all nor was there any blueprint for development.
Kejriwal, meanwhile, did his bit to counter BJP’s aggressive Hindutva-based campaign pitch, besides talking about development.
Among the 28 states and 8 union territories, Delhi is second after Goa in per capita income — relatively affluent and poverty is not that widespread.
According to the National Family Health Survey, the share of households belonging to the lowest wealth quintile — lowest 20 per cent of the population of India — is much less in Delhi than in other states, just 0.2 per cent.
Kejriwal’s freebies impacted slum and jhuggi-jhopri dwellers and Delhi’s middle-class did not buy BJP’s Shaheen Bagh narrative. They voted for the AAP’s promise of better infrastructure, schools and clean air.
Different voting pattern in assembly & Lok Sabha polls
Delhi results have once again showed that people vote differently in state and Parliamentary elections.
In the Lok Sabha elections in May 2019, the BJP won all seven seats in Delhi with over 56 per cent vote share.
The BJP is failing to read the voters’ minds and still believes that PM Modi can win state polls on national issues.
The BJP fought the Jharkhand election on the new citizenship law and the Ram temple judgement, but lost badly.
Congress’ dismal performance helped AAP
The BJP hoped for a triangular fight in Delhi that would have helped split AAP votes, but the Congress’ dismal show went against it.
Muslims, who voted for the Congress in the Lok Sabha elections, extended support to the AAP despite Kejriwal maintaining a distance from the Shaheen Bagh protests.
Even jhuggi-jhopri and slum dwellers voted en masse for the AAP, despite the BJP-government at the Centre passing a bill to legalise unauthorised colonies in the national capital.
Residents of slums and jhuggis were once a strong voter base of the Congress. But Kejriwal’s power and water freebies took them away from the Congress.