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 Aam Aadmi Party’s ‘hit and run’ allegation on him having nexus with Delhi power discoms (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.
Largely positive campaigning: 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 resorted to. They seldom got personal, something that we saw in Kiran Bedi’s case. While Bedi did launch personal attacks on Kejriwal, 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).
Turning 49 days of governance into an asset: After Kejriwal’s deserter act in February 2014 that left Delhi without a government for a year, his ‘deserter tag’ was the main talking point on every political opponent’s agenda for targeting Kejriwal.
Kejriwal tried all to justify his ‘deserter act’ saying he didn’t betray the trust of Delhiites but was later on forced to 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.
And 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).
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’.
Kejriwal is not an angry soul anymore: Arvind Kejriwal looks much more relaxed and composed now while campaigning. 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.
Acting politically correct: To correct a system, one needs to be part of it – okay, it cannot be said that AAP here is 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.
Today, 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.
Let’s see if these moves help AAP emerge triumphant when the results are out on February 10.
©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–/