AAP: THE RAPID DECLINE

It has become quite an expected spectacle – recurring regularly – and every next time, it sounds more phoney than its previous role-play – entire gamut of AAP leaders (Aam Aadmi Party) coming in a huddle whenever there is any political or (administrative development) that goes against them or whenever anyone from AAP, including Arvind Kejriwal, is targeted – and launching a coordinated verbal tirade in full force against whosoever they feel is coming in their way.

In their way – now that may be interpreted in varied ways – and in the prevailing political circumstances – everyone, irrespective of the side of the controversy he or she is – feels that he or she is entitled to have his or her own way – and that the way he or she reacts is right and politically correct.

But what is interesting and (morally demotivating) in the case of AAP is that it is a party that had claimed skies on corruption while canvassing for votes but has done everything that is a sheer antithesis to that and that will ultimately prove its nemesis.

AAP must not forget that its rapid, miraculous political rise may well see a rapid decline if it keeps on betraying the stakeholders who voted for it – the common men.

And the party faces this clear and present danger – now in most clear and unequivocal terms.

AAP has presented before its voters a face that is largely elitist – making mockery of the values that it claimed enshrined its organizational constitution and even the name (Aam Aadmi Party – the party of the common men).

And the people Arvind Kejriwal and his party have defended vehemently, including his tainted former law minister Jitender Singh Tomar, have proved him wrong, time and again.

The party that had begged for another chance in Delhi and the party that had begged another chance in the name of the ‘common man’, has openly (and shamelessly) embraced a VIP culture that includes many hostile, ‘un-common-manesque’ incidents including the recent move of hiking MLA salary by 400% and the now ‘famous flip-flop on the Jan Lokpal Bill’.

When Delhi’s voters had given AAP another chance after its act of betrayal in February 2014 when Arvind Kejriwal had deserted Delhi to milk his prime-ministerial ambitions in Varanasi, what was on their mind was a regime and its governance based on concerns for ordinary folks in the street – and not what were the routine political promises.

In a sense, the unique strength that AAP had was its ‘inexperience’ in the political office and in the ‘political culture’.

But after AAP was given another chance by the electorate in Delhi in February 2015, we came to know the AAP members were inexperienced not in just ‘political culture and political office’, but they also lacked the conviction to ‘engage in constructive politics’.

And their ‘unwillingness’ to engage in ‘constructive politics and meaningful governance’ to gain the experience that will be ‘morally, socially and politically correct’ is proving a nightmare now.

Since their second inauguration in the national capital, AAP has been in news for wrong reasons mostly. The party has preferred to engage in confrontational politics with the Union Government, and buoyed by the experience of playing the ‘victim card’ in the assembly polls, it has decided to present itself as ‘facing brunt of its political opponents’ and as the sole champion of the ’cause of the common man’ in Indian politics.

But the party has consistently failed to go beyond mere rhetoric and words. The party, so far, has shown a shameless penchant in ‘not transforming’ its words (promises) into action. And as the time is passing, people are seeing through this charade.

After all, if they can show door to BJP in just nine months (through the Union Government rule in Delhi by its representative, the Lieutenant-Governor), why can’t they do the same with AAP? Yes, it is true that AAP is safely home, in Delhi assembly, for five years, but that cannot prevent people from making opinion against it.

The sad thing is, the party is not realizing it – and is thus increasingly getting irrelevant to the ’cause of the politics of change’ India desperately needs.

Instead, they are busy in playing dirty politics – using abusive words like ‘coward and psychopath for the elected prime minister of India’ – and making such a language synonymous with their political culture – using abusive and confrontational language in their day to day politics. With all merits, we can safely say that AAP spokespersons sound most sceptical and senseless in any ongoing political debate these days – ever since the party got another chance in Delhi.

And at times, when they are caught red handed and on the other side of the law, like it happened in Jitender Tomar case or in today’s case of raid against the Principal Secretary of Arvind Kerjriwal, their ‘we are right, come what may’ attitude deteriorates into a panic response that doesn’t consider anything and just spews and spews verbal volleys of distracted and misplaced opinions (or rants to be precise).

By their acts so far, they are proving the Delhi electorate wrong.

Well, this is certainly not political anarchy, the way political anarchy is known as!

AK-Twitter-Dec152015

Featured Image Courtesy: Arvind Kejriwal’s Twitter page

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AAP ON BACK FOOT AFTER DELHI HC’S INTERIM ORDER

Even if interim, the interim order of the Delhi High Court has come as another jolt of the day for the Aam Aadmi Party.

Even if its leaders may take respite in the fact that the matter is sub-judice in Supreme Court and High Court and may chose to react accordingly (trying to look unfazed by the developments of the day), the reality of the day clearly goes against them.

Even if they shield behind the logic of the notice given by the HC to the Centre on Ministry of Home Affairs’ notification of May 21 that backs the lieutenant-governor on bureaucratic appointments and prevents the Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) of Delhi from taking cognizance of the offences committed by the Central Government employees, they will find the day’s developments hard to reconcile with.

Even if they say the orders are just the beginning and the SC has asked the AAP government to file its reply in three weeks on the Centre questioning the Delhi HC order on ACB jurisdiction and it will present its viewpoint on the court, an anti-AAP message has gone.

May 29, 2015 is a day when the AAP had to face two jolts, two negative developments, a day after the special session of Delhi assembly where the Central Government and the L-G had been lambasted, where anti-notification and anti-Union government resolutions were passed and where Arvind Kejriwal had openly challenged the Centre on interfering in Delhi through ‘such’ notifications.

First, the SC issued notice to the AAP government on the Centre’s plea about ACB jurisdiction saying the Delhi HC’s observation about the notification was not ‘binding’. Then there came the double whammy with the Delhi HC’s interim order which said the L-G was the constitutional head of Delhi and his orders were binding on the Delhi Government – till its conclusive orders.

It even didn’t pass any order on the Delhi Government’s proposal. The proposal said the government would send its decisions to the L-G for review and in case of any disagreement between the L-G and the Delhi council of ministers, the President’s words will be final. The HC passed the proposal to the L-G but refused to set any deadline.

After today’s developments, the AAP government has three weeks to explain in the SC that why the MHA notification violates the constitutional provisions and the laws governing Delhi vis-à-vis ACB’s jurisdiction.

And the Centre has six weeks to file an affidavit in the Delhi HC on its notification and how the transfers and postings were done in previous governments in Delhi.

Till the time an order comes, Najeeb Jung is the constitutional head of Delhi and will prevail in matters of bureaucratic appointments including the latest order by Arvind Kejriwal transferring nine bureaucrats where he did not consult the L-G.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

CM VS LG ROW: SC ASKS DELHI HC TO RULE ON MHA NOTIFICATION FIRST

As expected to be among the expectations from the court in the ongoing row between the Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and the Delhi lieutenant-governor Najeeb Jung, the Supreme Court of India has asked the Delhi High Court to hear the Aam Aadmi Party’s (APP) plea against the gazette notification of the Ministry of Home Affairs first (MHA).

In doing so, the apex court has taken a neutral stand for any concerned stakeholder in this case, the Union Government led the Bhartiya Janata Party and the Delhi Government led by the AAP.

While it told that the Delhi HC order calling the MHA notification ‘suspect’ was tentative, at the same time, it refused to put any stay on the Delhi HC order on jurisdiction of Delhi’s Anti-corruption Bureau. It has also asked the AAP government to file a reply within three week on the Centre’s plea seeking to put a stay on the Delhi HC order. It said it would go ‘into’ the issue later.

It has asked the Delhi HC to rule on the MHA notification first that whether it violates the constitutional norms and various laws governing Delhi. The apex court has said that it wants the Delhi HC to listen to the matter objectively and without any influence, including the ‘suspect’ comment by a HC judge, and therefore it is not passing any comment.

So, till the time Delhi HC comes with a ruling, the status-quo on the MHA notification is maintained, means the bureaucratic appointments in Delhi would remain under the L-G. The HC ruling would also clear the ACB’s jurisdiction.

And it is also clear that the losing stakeholder in this case would move to the Supreme Court to overturn the decision of the Delhi HC – be it the AAP or the BJP.

So, let’s see how it goes in the Delhi HC – the next stage of the legal battle, the only logical way out in the ongoing CM Vs L-G or Delhi Government Vs Centre row.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

‘COURTS’ TO HEAR CENTRE AND AAP TODAY: THE ONLY LOGICAL WAY OUT

So, it is happening now and today is the day when the most logical phase of ‘politically’ motivated war begins.

Day before yesterday, the Union Home Ministry (MHA) filed a plea in the Supreme Court against May 25 Delhi High court order denying bail to a Delhi Police constable arrested by the Delhi’s Anti-corruption Bureau and calling the notification issued by the Union Home Ministry ‘suspect’ in the process.

The Supreme Court is to hear it today.

Yesterday, the Aam Aadmi Party moved Delhi High Court against the May 21 gazette notification of MHA that backed the Lieutenant-Governor. The notification was issued after interpretation of laws governing Delhi (including the Indian Constitution) and told us that bureaucratic appointments in Delhi were the exclusive domain of the L-G and also that the Delhi ACB could not take cognizance of offences committed by the Central Government employees.

The Delhi High Court is to hear it today.

Let’s see if any observation or order comes today. Or there are chances that the issue requires more hearing(s).

Let’s see if further dates are required (that is a valid possibility in this issue) and court refers the issue to the constitutional experts. Let’s see if Delhi High Court says it would wait for the Supreme Court hearing the matter first as the AAP has filed the plea against the whole MHA notification. Simultaneously, the AAP has also filed a caveat in the Supreme Court to hear its stand before passing any order.

Now, the apex court will decide jurisdiction of the ACB on the Centre’s plea. In doing so, it will certainly interpret and lay down the constitutional norms. The Centre has moved the SC with a plea demanding overturning the High Court’s order on ACB reiterating the stand taken in the MHA notification.

But also, as the High Court is to hear a plea against the whole notification including the ACB part, alternatively, the Supreme Court may ask the High Court to interpret the constitutional validity of the notification first.

Let’s wish courts are here on the same page here.

If it comes out to be what Kejriwal is trying to prove, we will see an even more aggressive Kejriwal on the whole issue. On the other hand, anything contrary would force him to reconsider his moves. And the possible responses would include playing ‘victim’ card again, like he did during the campaigning phase this time, readily apologizing for ‘deserting Delhi in just 49 days’ during his first term – the 49 days that now find a proud mention on the AAP website for achievements accrued then.

Who is the boss in Delhi in the ongoing CV Vs L-G row can be decided only by a court because the kind of politics Kejriwal has displayed after taking over the chief minister’s office on February 14 this year, he would not accept any interpretation by the Centre, even if it comes through the President.

And since it is in ‘courts’ now – in country’s apex court and in Delhi’s top court – its concluding part begins today.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

KEJRIWAL’S WORDS EPITOMIZE SPECIAL SESSION OF DELHI ASSEMBLY

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal’s words epitomized the two day special session of Delhi assembly that ended today.

His concluding speech (or parting shot) captured the essence with which the special session was called.

He challenged the Central government, that is led by Narendra Modi of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) on interfering in affairs of the Delhi government and warned it on ‘trying to take over Delhi through the Lieutenant-Governor Najeeb Jung’.

The two day assembly session on May 26 and 27 was a confrontationist response of Kejriwals’s attitude on the notification issued by Ministry of Home Affairs on May 21. The notifications makes bureaucratic appointment an exclusive domain of the L-G and also bars the Delhi Anti-corruption Bureau (ACB) from taking cognizance against the Central Government employees.

Scathing, even unparliamentary words were used against the L-G. He was blamed to run to save his post by indulging in activities against the Delhi government. Centre was again and again blamed for ‘running Delhi by proxy’ after its humiliating electoral loss that reduced the largest party of December 2013 assembly polls to just three seats in February 2015. A demand was made to give the Delhi assembly powers to ‘impeach’ the L-G. Resolutions against the Centre were passed. Its ministers including Narendra Modi were targeted. An AAP MLA tore the MHA notification.

Delhi High Court’s observation that called the notification ‘suspect’ while rejecting bail to a Delhi Police constable booked by the ACB was quoted behind the logic and constitutional interpretation given by the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders.

To sum up, Arvind Kejriwal, with his concluding remarks, refused to obey the MHA notification. He had done so already with his many defying acts including the one of transfer of officials a day ago without the informing the L-G. He chose the assembly for his political power display. And he chose the Delhi assembly to further his political message.

He said it was not a constitutional crisis but was a political one, created by the Centre. He said the Delhi assembly could take care of the salary heads of bureaucrats under it and they should discharge their duties without any fear.

Now, we cannot say whom they are, the bureaucrats, repulsive of – Kejriwal or the Centre. And going by the conduct of Kejriwal and his government in the Delhi, he is to carry the blame for it.

The row that began with Shakuntala Gamlin’s appointment as Delhi’s acting chief secretary saw heads of other civil services officials roll in an ugly public display. IAS officers have held two meetings since then and reports say they are not happy with the situation and want a solution at the earliest. But from the developments so far, we can say, it is not the Centre, but the state government IAS officers are miffed at.

And while saying so, we did not get any indications that he was going to the court the next morning against the MHA notification. He said he would oppose it (and the Centre) come what may but he did not give us any hint about the simplest and the most logical outcome of the logjam – the court interpretation of the constructional provisions and other laws governing Delhi.

Given the kind of stuff Kejriwal is made up of, he would not accept any interpretation by the Centre, even if it comes through the President.

And given the politics involved in interpretation of constitutional provisions, he would love to drag it as far as possible. After all, it would give him a chance to divert attention from his unfulfilled promises and a shabby governance so far (in his 100 days). Yes, he has been a big letdown for Delhi and for those who went for the political experiment called the AAP.

Let’s see how long the issue lasts constitutionally?

The Home Ministry filed an SLP (Special Leave Petition) in the Supreme Court today against the Delhi High Court order of May 25 denying bail to the constable. It has come quickly even if we were expecting the move from stakeholders.

Now, the apex court will decide jurisdiction of the ACB. In doing so, it will certainly interpret and lay down the constitutional norms. If it comes out to be what Kejriwal is trying to prove, we will see an even more aggressive Kejriwal on the whole issue. On the other hand, anything contrary would force him to reconsider his moves. And the possible responses would include playing ‘victimization’ card.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MODI THEN, KEJRIWAL NOW

These eight months proved out to be long enough for anti-incumbency against the BJP led central government, that was seen ruling Delhi through Lieutenant-Governor, to build to the extent that it led to a complete rout for the party’s prospects in the 2015 assembly polls.

In the 70-member Delhi assembly, BJP, the largest party of the 2013 assembly polls that bettered its show in 2014 Lok Sabha polls winning all seven seats and improving its vote share by 15% to 48% and leading in 60 of the 70 assembly segments, was reduced to just three seats.

And the Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal advantage played a major role in it.

AAP had begun its ground work a long before the L-G gave nod to the polls. Kejriwal’s sincere act of apology was finding its takers through his outreach efforts.

He was the most popular CM Candidate in Delhi even when BJP was clearly ahead of AAP in seat projections, survey after survey. And as the polls approached, increased intensity of his efforts took him far higher on popularity scale.

It was further helped by absence of any credible name against him as the CM nominee. Congress had none. BJP had none before January 12. After BJP paradropped her, Kiran Bedi did reach near to him with her announcement but soon Kejriwal widened the gap.

It all made Kejriwal the central target of political rivals. The mighty BJP was there, lock, stock and barrel, encircling him, trying to engulf him. Kejriwal was also in the fire-line of the down and out Congress.

Something that was the case with Narendra Modi in the Lok Sabha polls when he was the central target of the political rivals.

It did help Modi then, making him a true mass phenomenon.

It helped Kejriwal now, in the assembly polls, making him the Delhi’s mass leader beyond the perception of popularity scales.

In the Lok Sabha polls, everyone was targeting Modi when he had no direct rival. And Modi had the most intensive campaigning schedule mapping length and breadth of the country. Every development helped him get added scales of visibility – the media time, visibility on airwaves, presence in print media, in top slots trending on Internet and social media. And as the it was coming from a fractured group of rivals including Congress that was sweating from the heat of a sky-high anti-incumbency, their words and acts only helped Modi positively.

In these assembly polls, in desperation, fuelled by the ‘below expectation crowds’ in Modi’s first rally, and Kiran Bedi’s rapidly diminishing impact, BJP started ratcheting up attacks on Kejriwal. BJP failed to realize the harm its negative campaign was doing and kept on doing the same thing with Arvind Kejriwal that opponents did with Modi then, targeting him with the might of BJP’s campaigning machinery that looked to sweep Delhi.

BJP failed to realize that it needed to keep this most important factor in check – the psychology, the inclination of youth, middle classes and poor- to support the one whom they can identify with – and Kejriwal has been certainly identifiable for them – to be in solidarity with the one who is taking on the mightier ones – and AAP is no match for BJP and Congress in terms of resources and experience.

Yes, BJP and Narendra Modi were not poor in resources or experience in the Lok Sabha polls, but Modi’s political past and the allegations of Gujarat riots made him the easy target of every other political outfit that he exploited well with his humble background. The tea-seller on the course to change the future of India and its people – being hounded by the political opponents – because of his poor background and because of his backward caste lineage – was a big crowd puller – and a big psychological connect for the impoverished masses.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

CONGRESS AFTER DELHI POLLS: THE GRAND FALL OF THE GRAND OLD PARTY OF INDIA IS PROVING UNSTOPPABLE

Though it was expected, it happened in a way that was unthinkable even for the diehard critics of the Grand Old Party of India, the Indian National Congress.

Congress was expected to spring some surprise, not only by the estimates of Congress, but by others as well. While the polls were giving the party 5-8 seats, Congress’s own estimate was around 10-12 seats.

But Ajay Maken’s realization – from ‘we will score and spring a surprise’ to ‘we will respect the mandate and would play whatever role public would want us to’ – even before the results were out – conveyed Congress had already accepted its doom in Delhi’s politics – with the projections of exit polls predicting a rout for the party – not giving it more than five seats. Some polls even said that party would fail to win even a single seat.

And Congress failed to win even a single seat.

And the pounding is so severe that even reading the riot act is not expected to help the party now. Not only its vote share came under 10%, 62 of its candidates failed so miserably that they lost their deposits. And it included names like Ajay Maken, party’s chief-ministerial nominee – the candidates who were expected to win based on their name and work

Delhi is yet another marker in the downward journey of the Congress party. It has already been pushed to the margins of Bihar’s politics, where elections are due later this year, and ‘becoming politically irrelevant in Delhi’ will certainly exacerbate the process of the party becoming irrelevant in other states as well.

After scoring a historic low in Lok Sabha polls with just 44 seats, Congress performed even more miserably in different assembly polls of 2014.

In Andhra Pradesh, it could not open its account.

In Telangana, the state it created to reap its act’s political windfall, it was down by 30 seats to 21 seats in the 119 member strong assembly.

In Odisha, it could win only 16 of 147.

In Maharashtra, where it ruled for three terms, the party came third with 41 seats of 288.

After ruling Haryana, it was pushed to the third spot with only 15 seats.

Similar stories were repeated in Jharkhand and J&K where the party was pushed to the fourth spot by the electorate with abysmally low numbers.

In further misery, reports from Jharkhand say Congress is on the verge of split with four of its six MLAs ready to join BJP. Add Delhi debacle to the list.

The grand fall of the Grand Old Party of India is proving unstoppable.

What it tells us about the scale of the fall of the Congress party?

Even after piling up electoral losses and winding up influence, Congress has failed to go beyond mere rhetoric.

Some resignations are offered. They are swiftly denied. And the army of spokespersons is deployed to shield the Nehru-Gandhi family. Rahul Gandhi did have accepted the responsibility of debacles in past but the acceptance never followed the corrective action.

Going beyond rhetoric means Congress needs to question Rahul Gandhi who has been leading the party in elections for quite long now – and his record has been more than questionable. After the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Congress has seen its base shrinking on an epic scale in Indian politics. In the name of states having more than ten Lok Sabha seats, Congress has just three – Karnataka, Kerala and Assam. It has no MLA in Andhra Pradesh, Sikkim and now in Delhi. It has been pushed to the third or fourth spot in many states.

In the Hindi heartland states that decide the direction of Indian politics, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar with 120 Lok Sabha seats, Congress has become almost irrelevant.

In Uttar Pradesh, Congress could win just two seats – of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi – in 2014 Lok Sabha polls with just 7.5% of votes. Though it saw some improvement in the 2012 assembly polls from 2007, with 28 seats in 11.65% vote share, it was just yet another humiliating poll outcome for the party in the state – it remained fourth in the 403-member assembly. In Bihar, party could win just 4 assembly seats in 2010 polls with 8.4% vote share. In the Lok Sabha polls last year, Congress could win just two seats and there was certainly no point in drawing solace that its vote share remained 8.4% given the fact that the party had contested the polls alone. In West Bengal too, another big state, its vote share was around 9% – in 2010 assembly polls and in the Lok Sabha polls last year.

Now, with AAP’s emergence and victory in Delhi, the Congress has a direct threat to its future. The last time when we heard of Congress in Delhi politics was in December 2013 assembly polls that were being seen as a BJP Vs Congress contest. But after the polls, the underdog, Aam Aadmi Party, replaced Congress by emerging as the second largest party and went on the form the government with Congress’s support who could win just 8 seats. And, just after a year, AAP ate into the Congress vote pie in a big way bringing it down to 9% from 25% to sweep Delhi, even with its deserter tag and Kejriwal’s act of betrayal that left Delhi without a government for a year.

Segments that voted for Modi in Lok Sabha and assembly polls – middle class and youth – voted for AAP this time. The lower income groups were already in its fold. Muslims in these polls voted en-masse for AAP.

Muslims and lower income groups have traditionally been voting for Congress forming the major chunk of its ‘secular plank’.

As AAP has given a credible alternative to voters in Delhi, appealing to every section of the society, building thus a secular plank, and as AAP spreads beyond Delhi, something that is bound to happen with a spectacular Delhi show, there would always be this possibility that Congress would face an existential threat to its ‘secular plank’ nationally, and thus an existential threat to its political survival.

Congress needs a course correction that goes beyond rhetoric we all know. We also know that the steps should have been taken much earlier.

Don’t the Congress’s first family and other Congress strategists know it?

They do not want to question Rahul Gandhi and the first family, when even Rahul needs to question himself now, if they have to save the future of Congress. Also, given the Robert Vadra factor, the move to bring Priyanka Gandhi will prove counterproductive.

Congress must go beyond posturing in addressing its fall.

Even a day’s delay would exacerbate its misery.

Otherwise, Delhi would further dent Congress’s prospects on its organizational spread in country. Even the candidates who could have won of their name and work, lost because they were Congress candidates.

If Congress doesn’t act now, it would be staring at split, defections and mass exodus in coming days.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

FEBRUARY 10, 1952 TO FEBRUARY 10, 2015: TWO KEY DATES IN INDIA’S ELECTORAL POLITICS

It was February 10 in 1952 when the results of the first democratically held elections in India were announced.

Then, the Congress party led by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru had won a thumping majority winning 364 of 489 parliamentary constituencies.

On February 10, 2015, the same Congress party has witnessed a humiliating loss in Delhi polls failing to win even a single seat. 63 of its candidates lost their deposits. Its vote share sank to 9.7% from 24.55% in 2013 Delhi assembly polls. And this loss is following a humiliating downward trend. The party could get just 15% votes in the 2015 Lok Sabha polls.

Congress’s fall, from electoral pedestal and from grace in India, is emblematic of the phase of political transition India is in.

After scoring a historic low in Lok Sabha polls with just 44 seats, Congress performed even more miserably in different assembly polls of 2014.

In Andhra Pradesh, it could not open its account. In Telangana, the state it created to reap its act’s political windfall, it was down by 30 seats to 21 seats in the 119 member strong assembly. In Odisha, it could win only 16 of 147. In Maharashtra, where it ruled for three terms, the party came third with 41 seats of 288. After ruling Haryana, it was pushed to the third spot with only 15 seats.

Similar stories were repeated in Jharkhand and J&K where the party came fourth with abysmally low numbers. In further misery, reports from Jharkhand say that four of the six Jharkhand Congress MLAs are ready to join BJP. Add Delhi debacle to the list.

The grand fall of the Grand Old Party of India is proving unstoppable.

February 10 also brought another unexpected turn to this process of political churning with sending BJP packing.

The party that had won 31 seats and 33% of votes in the 2013 assembly polls emerging as the largest, and the party that had won all seven Delhi parliamentary constituencies, leading in 60 of the 70 assembly segments securing 48% of the votes.

BJP’s 2013 performance in Delhi had preceded the Party’s spectacular show in the 2014 General Elections where the party had got majority on its own, becoming thus the first party to do so in 30 years. Before it, no party in India had got a clear majority on its own after the 1984 general elections when Congress, riding on the sympathy wave that had swept the country after Indira Gandhi’s assassination, with 404 seats and 49% vote share.

BJP had won on raising hopes, promising better lives and ensuring all around development. BJP’s winning streak continued in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand and in Jammu & Kashmir, it registered an impressive show and is in talks with PDP to form the government.

But, while all this victories, time was also passing, and anti-incumbency had started making inroads. Now, it is certainly debatable that how much time Narendra Modi needs to deliver on the promises he made, but the electoral behaviour is clear that perform or perish.

Delhi has stalled development to talk about while BJP was ruling Delhi through L-G since June 2014 and the Delhi electorate chose to recruit the option that it had, in hopes that it would deliver.

February 10, 1952 is historic for electoral history of India as it gave the country its first democratically elected government.

February 10, 2015 is historic as the electoral behaviour of Indian electorate saw its biggest churning so far, installing a two-year old party with a historic mandate to run the affairs of the Indian national capital, sending a message to the political class of the country that in future it is performance that is going to matter and the voter would not hesitant if there are alternatives available.

And alternatives are building in India’s political ecosystem.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AN EXCEPTIONAL AAP VICTORY IN DELHI: AAP PLAYED ITS CARDS WELL AND PERCEPTIONS JOINED THE SHOW

67 out of 70 seats – it is rare. No one including anyone in AAP had expected it to be so exceptionally well. But the results are here now. What AAP did right was it played its cards well and let the ‘perceptions’ work on public sentiments.

And perceptions did deliver for Kejriwal, based on his performance as the chief minister last time and BJP’s handling of Delhi polls this time.

The apology and overcoming the ‘deserter tag’: Leaving Delhi midway in February 2014, just after 49 days in the government to pursue an agenda to score in national politics, was clearly seen as a selfish act by Arvind Kejriwal.

Though Kejriwal tried all to justify his ‘act’ saying it was not a ‘deserter act’ and he didn’t betray the trust of Delhiites, and rather he was forced to take a moral stand as he was not being allowed to pass his Jan Lokpal Bill, he was later on forced to realize and apologise.

However, once the sense prevailed, no matter how, he kept on repeating his ‘apology’ saying ‘we committed mistake’ while requesting people to judge him and his party by his work of 49 days and what he could do based on that if he was given the full five years.

Turning 49 days of governance into an asset: The ‘deserter tag’ had become the main talking point on every political opponent’s agenda for targeting Kejriwal and Kejriwal had to overcome it to win the trust of voters again and the best way to do so was to make his ’49 days of governance’ a lucrative proposition.

And AAP could do it successfully as there were indeed praiseworthy elements to talk about Kejriwal’s governance. There were indeed millions – from the poor in the slums, from lower and middle income areas, street vendors, auto drivers, traders – who experienced extortion and corruption free days when police, MCD and routine office corruption (even in regional transport offices) were effectively kept in check. AAP’s water and power subsidies were implemented as promised.

For voters, oppressed under a system that makes corruption a part of life, these steps were big enough to ignore the wrongs of AAP then (and even now), as evident by the historic mandate to the latest serious debutante in Indian politics.

And the thought of having such days for full five years can be a big motivator for voters of Delhi and Arvind Kejriwal and AAP have been able to convey this effectively countering the ignominy of the ‘deserter tag’.

Comprehensive ground work: It was not in November when the Lieutenant-Governor finally decided that polls were the only option to resolve Delhi’s political deadlock or not in January when the Election Commission notified the polls, in fact, AAP had started working in Delhi soon after the Lok Sabha polls.

Though there were efforts to form a government somehow in Delhi and even AAP was party to such developments, the scene was never clear and the party kept of lubricating its machinery to go in full throttle once the polls were in clear sight and that happened in late last October. On the other hand, winner of the 2013 assembly polls, BJP, was busy in pursuing its political interest in other states, taking Delhi lightly, even if the Delhi BJP was a divided house. And Congress was piling up electoral humiliations one after the other.

Once it became clear that polls had become necessary, AAP launched its campaign to cover Delhi comprehensively, focusing on person to person contact with a positively themed campaign, loaded with freebies and goodies. And it was helped well with their clean image and the background of anti-corruption activism.

Dislodging BJP’s state president: Irrespective of the stature Satish Upadhyay enjoyed in Delhi, whose elevation displeased many in Delhi BJP, his demotion pushing him to the periphery after AAP’s ‘hit and run’ allegation on him having nexus with Delhi power distribution companies (that allegedly hurt the power consumers), helped AAP getting the initial advantage needed to build further on.

The timing of Kiran Bedi’s sudden induction and Satish Upadhyay’s sidelining after AAP’s allegation were certainly not isolated developments.

BJP’s counter reaction on allegation was a routine retort. Instead of taking on AAP with conviction, the party chose to sacrifice Upadhyay. That sent the message that BJP was getting defensive (and so there was some truth in the allegation). Bedi’s sudden elevation, when seen in context of Narendra Modi’s January 10 rally launching BJP’s Delhi campaign that performed below expectations and sidelining of Upadhyay after the allegation, further conveyed that the party was in panic.

It bolstered AAP’s campaign in the final crucial days after the poll date announcement.

Largely positive campaigning: Yes there were negative elements but they were more like aberrations when seen in the context of the overall AAP campaign.

Though AAP reiterated most of what it had promised in its 2013 poll manifesto, its leaders went on talking about them empathically while interacting with people, while appealing for votes. They focused on their own agenda while targeting the opponents and didn’t follow the negative way of campaigning that BJP and Congress resorted to. They seldom got personal, something that we saw in Kiran Bedi’s case. While Bedi did attack Kejriwal personally, senior AAP leaders including Kejriwal desisted from launching personal attack on Kejriwal’s ‘India Against Corruption’ colleague. AAP’s personal attacks on Kiran Bedi were mostly to reply Bedi’s personal attacks, like calling Kejriwal ‘bhagora (someone who ran away).

Elements like asking voters to film those offering money to vote for other parties and the subsequent duel for it that he had with the Election Commission, or campaign rhetoric like ‘some manipulated sting operation may be shown to tarnish AAP’s image in the final days of campaigning’ were in acceptable line of survival instincts for a party with limited resources that was taking on the might of the likes of BJP and Congress with billions on their disposal.

Kejriwal is not an angry soul anymore: Arvind Kejriwal looks much more relaxed and composed now. The mufflerman has become a face that mostly smiles back. That tells how quickly he has transformed to understand the nuances of Indian politics. The ‘activist to politician’ metamorphosis is complete it seems.

He did not target Narendra Modi. He said he would not respond to the personal attacks on him and maintained his stand. Kiran Bedi targeted him but he invited her for public debate requesting the BJP CM nominee to unblock him from her Twitter account.

Except Satish Upadhyay ‘expose’ (in fact, no expose at all), he largely did not practice his ‘hit and run’ style of campaigning. Instead, he utilized his energy in intensive campaigning addressing people and holding over hundred public meetings across Delhi. He was accessible to everyone.

He did not slip even when the government declined his request for the Republic Day Parade invitation and BJP leaders including Kiran Bedi mocked him. Even if Kejriwal had threatened to derail the Republic Day function in 2014, the government had no right to ridicule him this time, and that too, when Kiran Bedi was there in the front row of the Republic Day Parade. It certainly didn’t go well with the watchers (the voters).

His humility, coupled with his hard work, has served him an exceptional return, and all who have voted for him would pray that he returns it with an equally exceptional governance.

Acting politically correct: To correct a system, one needs to be part of it – okay, it cannot be said that AAP is here for political activism to cleanse politics as they always say unless we see them doing so consistently over some years – but they are well, part of the system now – and they are trying to act politically correct, speaking to every religion and class, not sounding pro to some while discriminating against others.

A day before Delhi votes, Arvind Kejriwal visited holy places of all four major religions that matter in Delhi polls to seek blessings. His party vocally declined Imam Bukhari’s pledge of support. His party’s spokesperson was detained while protesting against the acts of vandalism in Delhi churches.

Also, he was readily accessible to media this time. The media bashing by AAP didn’t make for headlines in these polls. Instead, he used media mileage to further his campaign meticulously, making it an important element of his campaign mix.

Targeting voters across the sections of society while maintaining the secular plank: AAP’s immediate refusal to Imam Bukhari”s offer of support was to further consolidate its position, especially in targeting and attracting the vote share of Congress and how successful it has been becomes evident from the poll percentage of different parties.

While BJP had a marginal dip from its 2013 poll % (32.3% from 33.07%), it was Congress that lost its major chunk to AAP, coming down to 9.7% from 24.55% of 2013. Also, AAP’s rise from 29.5% in 2013 to 54.3% now, a jump of 24%, tells that in addition of Congress, AAP ate into the pie of others as well, if not BJP.

AAP tried to reach out to its traditional votebanks as well as those who had been traditionally voting for Congress. It also tried to reach out to those who voted for BJP in the Lok Sabha polls – upper middle class and youth. AAP designed its campaign and manifesto not on caste and religion and but on income and age-groups and Delhi’s population composition has majority of low and middle income people and migrants who came in search of livelihood.

More than half of the votes cast, something that happens rarely in India, tells us that AAP got support from every section of the society. According to different post-poll analyses, while poor, lower and middle income segments, Muslims and youth voted overwhelmingly for AAP, even in the higher income groups, a considerable chunk voted for the party.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE KIRAN BEDI GAMBLE THAT WASN’T

Paradropping Kiran Bedi to win Delhi, when Delhi BJP was facing problems of factions and internal feuds and a waning public interest (of Delhi’s public) in Modi Wave with letdown of the January 10 Abhinandan Rally that was marketed in the name of Narendra Modi, proved out to be what it had to be.

Looking at her as someone a panacea for all BJP woes in Delhi was the final element to complete the reversal of BJP’s electoral fortunes. Before bringing in Bedi, senior BJP leaders were not taken into confidence. Also, with her induction, the local leadership was virtually disengaged from campaigning that further alienated the Delhi BJP workers who were already bogged down by the factions.

Considering Kiran Bedi a masterstroke when there were equal chances that the decision could have backfired also – was a poorly devised electoral strategy as the party had no time for an alternative in case of a negative progress report and that is exactly what has happened.

Kiran Bedi, before it, was never tested politically, and did not have the privilege of a credibly clean figure, something that Kejriwal enjoyed. She had her fair share of controversies like allegations of inflated airfare bills, controversy on her daughter’s admission in a medical college, her U-turn on not joining politics, her U-turn on Narendra Modi and controversies related to her career as an IPS officer including the spat with lawyers in Delhi that make her an un-middle class personality as well.

BJP miscalculated on Kiran Bedi’s appeal thinking it could be linked to Narendra Modi’s mass appeal and could well be used as an alternative, local face for BJP.

BJP miscalculated that it could take on an activist-turned politician with another activist-turned politician hoping their days when they worked together would give the party strategists insight into countering Kejriwal’s campaign more effectively – pinning Kejriwal in his own way.

BJP paradropped Kiran Bedi just 22 days before the polls to face and already established player who was enjoying consistently higher popularity ratings with virtually no opposition on the scale. Kiran Bedi did not have the time even to re-compose herself, let alone the basic essentials like reading the politics of Delhi in the context of an AAP Vs BJP contest, speaking the political language and thus making moves accordingly.

Instead, she kept on speaking like a police officer, narrowed down by her administrative experience and remaining confined to that when the need was to widen politically, when the canvas was not the certain defined realms of a professional obligation but an undefined, political landscape open to the dynamic changes as the campaigning progressed. That could have worked for an activist but certainly not for a politician.

Kiran Bedi’s induction and immediate elevation in BJP was based on perceptions around her with almost no time and no exercises to taste how these perceptions play out in the electoral arena. She was made the commander of the final stage of the battle when there was no time left to strategise further and the results are before us today.

In the 70-member Delhi assembly, AAP is expected to end up with 65 seats (it may be even 67) while writing this and BJP’s ‘three seats don’t include Kiran Bedi’s assembly constituency Krishnanagar’.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/