Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Delhi Elections - AAP Landslide Proves The Media Misread Modi Wave

Arvind Kejriwal will take oath as Chief Minister on February 14 at the Ramlila Grounds, the platform that launched him during the days of India Against Corruption, exactly one year after he stepped down.

The scale of AAP's victory was reminiscent of the victories recorded by the Sikkim Sangram Party (SSP) which won all the 32 seats in the assembly while the JD (U)-BJP alliance won 206 of the 243 seats in 2010. In the 1991 Assembly elections in Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK-Congress alliance won 225 of the 234 seats while in subsequent elections the DMK-Congress alliance won 221 of 234 seats.

As the voting trends trickled in showing a massive landslide for AAP, Modi called Kejriwal over phone to congratulate him on the victory. He assured Kejriwal of Centre's complete support in the development of Delhi.

Bedi also congratulated Kejriwal saying "full marks to Arvind." Maken, whose party has been decimated in the elections, resigned as Congress General Secretary taking full responsibility for the debacle.

In his address to his supporters, Kejriwal saluted the people of Delhi for doing a "wonder" by giving them a landslide victory and asked party workers not to get carried away by the mandate. "You have done a wonder. When you are on the path of truth, all the forces of universe come together to help you. I salute the people of Delhi. It's a victory of truth," he said.

The defeat for BJP was all the more bitter because it had won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in the last year's general elections. The party's gamble of making Bedi its Chief Ministerial candidate back fired. The only saving grace for the BJP was victory of its former state unit president Vijender Gupta who won from Rohini.

Kejriwal thanked Modi for his greetings and said he would like to meet him soon to discuss issues related to Delhi. He told the Prime Minister that he will need the Centre's help.

Expressing happiness over the party's performance, AAP leader Yogendra Yadav said, "it was not just under class, but the middle class also voted for AAP. The (Narendra Modi) juggernaut seems to have halted at least for now."

The AAP landslide has taken every political pundit by surprise.

Obviously, the media has finally realized that there is no Modi voter, or for that matter, Kejriwal voter. In the wake of the Modi wave that swept the 2014 elections, there was widespread consensus that he had built a vast base of loyal voters who owed their allegiance to him and not to the BJP.

The solid voting bloc that a party or leader can rely on winning as a bare minimum in a given election – is shrinking.

We are witnessing the rise of the independent voter who is driven purely by self-interest, and who will increasingly become the decisive factor in Indian elections, much as in the United States. Kejriwal can no more rely on their allegiance than a Modi.

But what the Delhi Elections shows is that the new Indian voter has no use for the L-word. He or she can happily vote for one leader or party in one election, and just as easily opt for the rival in the other – and within the space of 8 months. Sure, Modi as PM is a-okay, so is Kejriwal for CM. No matter how much the PM may try and convince them otherwise.

Even those expecting a BJP loss could not anticipate a washout of this size. While everyone is busy decoding what AAP did right and BJP did  wrong, what the Delhi results also reveal is the extent to which the media have misread the Indian voter, and particularly, the Lok Sabha elections, which spawned a number of myths that have been demolished by the Kejriwal juggernaut.

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