Wednesday, 29 June, 2022
HomePoliticsChal, Charitra and Chehra — the secret formula behind AAP's success in...

Chal, Charitra and Chehra — the secret formula behind AAP’s success in Delhi

Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party swept the Delhi assembly elections, winning 62 of 70 seats. The remaining 8 went to the BJP.

Text Size:

The people of Delhi have once again given a huge thumbs up to the AAP school of politics, while the BJP’s high-voltage campaign, led by Home Minister Amit Shah, failed miserably.

In a way, the AAP has conveyed a direct message to the BJP — that elections can be won despite adhering to one’s own ideology and politics in the face of provocation, without compromising with values, and by following a strong leadership.

In 2014, under Modi’s stellar leadership, the BJP paved its way into the hearts and minds of India’s electorate, led by the slogan, “Chal, Charitra and Chehra (conduct, character and face)”.

Now, it appears that the AAP and Kejriwal have completely imbibed this mantra to give a new sheen to its politics.

The BJP, meanwhile, appeared baffled and bewildered. It tried to win the Delhi polls on the basis of its organisational muscle but failed.

With this victory, the AAP has conveyed an important lesson to the opposition — that one should contest elections on the basis of their own “Chal, Charitra and Chehra”. The party carried out a campaign driven by a positive narrative and emphasised that its appeal should suit the mood of people at large. The strategy paid off.

Here are the top reasons for this emphatic victory of the AAP.

Also read: What Delhi can look forward to from new AAP govt — Deshbhakti course, more welfare schemes


Kejrwal, who fought this election by presenting himself as “Delhi ka beta (son of Delhi)”, had mended his way in the months leading up to the polls.

Several political analysts term it the “Prashant Kishor effect”.

The main idea behind Kejriwal’s transformation was to stay away from the opposition’s agenda and follow his own roadmap. It helped the AAP avoid traps and political minefields set by the opposition, and to not deviate from its own line and mount impulsive reactions.


During the entire campaign, Kejriwal presented himself as a humble servant of Delhi while cleverly positioning his party as the capital’s own — one solely concerned about the geographical boundary of the national capital and trying to serve it in every possible way.

The party kept repeating that it should be elected to govern Delhi, just as the people have voted for Modi and the BJP in the Lok Sabha polls.

The AAP learnt a hard lesson from the last Lok Sabha election — not to be too impatient.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, Kejriwal went to Varanasi to contest against PM Narendra Modi and tried to take his party to the national level. The strategy flopped.

Kejriwal, then, apart from checking his own over-ambitious manner, also set a fixed goal for himself and the party.


Over the past five years, Chief Minister Kejriwal emerged as a powerful face of Delhi. Neither the BJP nor the Congress could present any face (leader) to challenge him. The opposition’s biggest drawback was the absence of a credible face to challenge Kejriwal.

In this, people saw a message: That Kejriwal had been with them constantly over the past five years but the BJP had failed to even zero in on a face for its campaign — Delhi BJP chief Manoj Tiwari, Union minister Harsh Vardhan, or Delhi MP Parvesh Verma, or anyone else. This proved costly for the party.

Then again, for the last 21 years, the Delhi BJP has failed to produce a formidable local leader with the kind of its repute its former chief ministers Madan Lal Khurana and Sahib Singh Verma courted.

Also read: Delhi election verdict is a ‘referendum’ on Kejriwal’s development & not against Modi

The politics of freebies

The AAP government’s freebies — free electricity, free water, free bus travel for women — are being talked about not only in Delhi but across the nation.

People belonging to the lower strata benefited heavily from such schemes. The decision to make DTC buses free for women proved to be a trump card for Kejriwal. As far as electricity is concerned, the Delhi government first raised the rates, then heavily subsidised usage up to a certain level.

In short, it collected hefty sums from people using more electricity (usually higher-income groups), and passed on the benefits to poor people in the form of free electricity.

The BJP lost out because it couldn’t take on the AAP on this front. On the one hand, it proved to be politically impossible to speak against this “freebie culture” and, on the other, the BJP could not promise any additional freebies from its own kitty.

After the party’s crushing defeat in the Delhi elections, BJP leader and Haryana minister Anil Vij tweeted a rebuke to the capital’s “penchant for freebies”.

Development vs Shaheen Bagh

Towards the last leg of the campaign, the BJP tried hard to polarise the electorate. It deviated from its development agenda and tried to raise the Shaheen Bagh bogey.

A deliberate attempt was made to turn the entire campaign into a Shaheen Bagh vs nationalism debate.

At almost every political rally, BJP leaders issued anti-Muslim statements and accused the AAP of appeasement politics. But Kejriwal foiled the BJP’s trickery by sticking to his developmental claims and positive agenda.

He kept his focus on initiatives in the health and education sectors, like mohalla clinic etc. He did not deviate from his agenda even to counter “sting operations”.

Kejriwal kept reminding the people about the work his government had done while the main opposition, the BJP, kept raising issues like the CAA, nationalism, treason etc.

Also read: How Kejriwal gamed Modi, Shah’s Hindutva-nationalism-welfarism combination to defeat them

Subscribe to our channels on YouTube & Telegram

Why news media is in crisis & How you can fix it

India needs free, fair, non-hyphenated and questioning journalism even more as it faces multiple crises.

But the news media is in a crisis of its own. There have been brutal layoffs and pay-cuts. The best of journalism is shrinking, yielding to crude prime-time spectacle.

ThePrint has the finest young reporters, columnists and editors working for it. Sustaining journalism of this quality needs smart and thinking people like you to pay for it. Whether you live in India or overseas, you can do it here.

Support Our Journalism


  1. Talk about Charitra of Kejrival. Running battle with the Lieutenant Governors, CM sitting in Dharna, beating up a high ranking bureaucrat, calling PM Psycopath, prostrating before Muslim clerics, to name some. A leopard cannot change its spots. Wait for the euphoria to pass.

  2. Modi is popular only bcos he fools aandh bakhts on fake Nationalism. Real story of India on economy, jobs, GDP, hunger Index is zero. I wud support him if he puts our country above fake Nationalism.

  3. Even before elections, media told the world that voters are going to elect AK and AAP despite many shortcomings of free goods schemes and his not doing much in 4 and half year.BJP should have started its campaign early. It needs to have effective state units who start ground work at least a year ahead. Central election unit is over stretched now when the incumbent is not doing very badly or doing badly.

  4. 1. Hearty Congratulations to all AAP leaders, especially Arvind Kejriwal. There is no doubt that credit must go to him for this huge election win. 2. If Arvind Kejriwal has won National Capital Region (NCR) of Delhi Assembly election on basis of his claim of improved governance, he will be tested in next five years. He will have to deliver on his promises. 3. Incidentally we noticed that all political parties vied with each other to offer freebies to voters of voters of NCR. I wish to know whether it is okay to do that because we-the taxpayers of the entire country- have to pay for those freebies to be enjoyed in future by citizens of NCR. 4. I think this kind of populism and offer of freebies is not only unhealthy but it is also unfair to honest tax-paying citizens.

Comments are closed.

Most Popular