Aam Aadmi Party, AAP, Arvind Kejriwal, Bharatiya Janata, BJP, Christine Nayagam, Congress, Delhi, Delhi 2013 Election, Election in Delhi 2013, elections in delhi, Harsh Vardhan, India elections 2014, Ranvir Nayar, Sheila Dikshit
The ruling Congress Party has suffered one of its most humiliating defeats in regional elections in India, while a new anti-corruption party has staged a dramatic performance, giving jitters not only to the Congress but also the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party.
Hundreds of men and women, young, middle aged and elder, rich, middle class and poor, educated and illiterate, gathered at Connaught Place in New Delhi yesterday, dancing and cheering, while carrying brooms in their hands. “Today, the first step of our mission has been accomplished. We have used the broom effectively to brush out the corrupt Congress government from Delhi,’’ says Sunita, a 28-year-old information technology professional.
Just next to her stood, Suman, a 45-year-old who works as a maid in various homes in Delhi. “I was tired of inflation. For us poor people, even basic necessities like vegetables and onions have gone out of our reach and the government just did not do anything. They just stood by and watched while we struggled for existence,” she says.
Two voters from two very different parts of the Indian capital and two different reasons why they did not vote Congress and why they voted for the newest party in the country, the Aam Aadmi Party or the Common Man Party, which has put up a stunning performance in an election that has come less than one year after it was created.
The results in four of the five states that went to elections last month show clearly that the voters are upset with the Congress party, which has been ruling the nation for nine years. “Inflation, which is again close to 10 pc and food inflation of about 17.5 pc a year, a series of corruption scandals, impacting various parts of the government and a complete paralysis of governance are the main reasons why the Congress has received such a drubbing,’’ says Roopinder Oberoi, a professor of political science at the Delhi University.
The Congress party lost terribly in Rajasthan, where the opposition BJP has won nearly 80 per cent of the seats and the BJP also managed to hold on to its position in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, two central Indian states which have been ruled by the BJP for the past 10 years.
But the biggest surprise came in the capital Delhi, which has been comfortably ruled by the Congress for the past 15 years. Aam Aadmi Party was born out of an anti-corruption movement that captured the imagination and support of urban Indians, notably the youth and the middle classes, who were apparently tired of the sharp rise in corruption in India. The movement lasted over a year and shook the political establishment. But when the AAP, which was formed barely a year ago, decided to contest the elections in Delhi, not many expected it to win many seats, while most politicians and political analysts believed that the AAP would perhaps eat into the votes of the two leading parties but not win many seats.
Today’s results have confounded all analyses. The AAP has won 28 seats of the total 70 in Delhi assembly, pushing the Congress to the third spot, while the BJP has emerged as the single largest party, though even the BJP could not win an overall majority in Delhi. The biggest shock in Delhi came from the constituency of Chief minister Sheila Dikshit who lost her seat to AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal.
These results are sure to jolt the Congress out of its complacency as the general elections are barely five months away. Not only will it have to counter the rising influence and popularity of the BJP leader Narendra Modi but also handle AAP, which could hurt the ruling party in the national elections as well. In the evening, as the BJP and AAP supporters and leaders gathered to celebrate, the Congress leaders gathered at their headquarters to see how the party can avoid a drubbing in the national polls as well.