The politics of hate has been temporarily defeated in Delhi and this sends a positive message across the country. But whether this will be a new narrative in upcoming elections has to be seen. The Delhi assembly elections have been, in one of the most toxic, the credit for which rests entirely with the BJP. What has been proved beyond doubt is that Arvind Kejriwal is the king of Delhi politics and his policies find traction among the people. There is a lesson for the BJP which has not been elected in Delhi for the past 21 years and will be in the wilderness for another five years. If anyone is to be blamed for the massive defeat of the BJP it is none other than PM Modi and his deputy, Amit Shah.
Arvind Kejriwal has pulled off a spectacular win in the Delhi Assembly polls. His Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is set to win 62 seats. While the AAP has termed it a victory of ‘good governance’, the Opposition sees it as an outcome of freebies announced by the AAP.
But from where Kejriwal got the money to splurge? A smart ‘baniya’ that he is, Kejriwal prudently used Delhi’s healthy finances to achieve his political goals.
According to the government records, from the Rs 1,051 crore fiscal deficit in 2016-17, Delhi turned into Rs 113 crore surplus state in 2017-18, which was 0.02 per cent of the gross state domestic product (GSDP).
“The Delhi government maintained primary surplus between 2014-15 and 2017-18. It increased 62.88 per cent to stand at 0.43 per cent of the GSDP in 2017-18,” said the CAG report.
The national capital territory (NCT) of Delhi had surplus revenue in the last five years. It declined 2.59 per cent in 2017-18, but stood at 0.72 per cent of the GSDP.
“Against total provision of Rs 49,202.08 crore in 2017-18, an expenditure of Rs 41,159.42 crore was incurred, resulting in Rs 8,042.66 crore savings,” said the CAG report. It was a 16.35 per cent saving.
With these figures, Delhi has been the envy of many states and it gave Kejriwal enough elbow room to give “free electricity”.
In December, Kejriwal tweeted, “Five years of increased expenditure on schools, hospitals, water and power — all this while maintaining surplus revenue and improving Delhi’s fiscal health. This was possible because Delhi has a non-corrupt govt, which uses every paisa of taxpayer on public welfare.”
In an interview, he claimed end of corruption for his success. In fact, Kejriwal had come to public life seeking to end corruption.
The Delhi Chief Minister claimed his ‘bijli, pani, swasth and shiksha’ template was not based on subsidy, but by saving money by rooting out corruption from the system.
Not only a bania, Kejriwal is also a cocktail of a mechanical engineer, which he pursued as IIT-Kharagpur student, and his stint as taxman before deciding to become a social activist.
Hitting out at opposition, Kejriwal said, “The Gujarat Chief Minister spent Rs 190 crore on a new aeroplane, I used Rs 190 crore to make water and power cheap.”
Economist N.R. Bhanu Murthy, a faculty at the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), has an interesting take.
“See all that Kejriwal does are not necessarily freebies. For instance, 24-hour power or water are also part of his politics, but it doesn’t cost him money. This is basic governance. Kejriwal has done a lot of things without incurring cost, which may or may not be perceived as freebies.”
And when the country was losing sleep over ‘biryani’, Kejriwal used his ‘bania dimag’ to distribute the fruits of a surplus economy and win another full term as the Chief Minister.
With its looming defeat in Delhi, the BJP-led NDA lost power in six states in the last two years. The BJP, which had won just three seats in Delhi last time, was expecting a much better performance this time.
Delhi state BJP chief Manoj Tiwari had hoped to win 48 seats to enable the party to return to power in Delhi afer over two decades. However, these estimates proved to be incorrect.
There are now anti-BJP governments in 12 states, including Delhi. The NDA now has governments in 16 states that account for 42 per cent of the nation’s population.
The Congress is in power in Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Punjab, and Puducherry either on its own or as part of an alliance. After forming the government in Jharkhand after the December election, the Congress has governments in seven states now.
In Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party has won for the third time in a row. Trinamool Congress rules West Bengal, CPM-led coalition in Kerala, YSR Congress in Andhra Pradesh, BJD in Odisha and TRS in Telangana. In Tamil Nadu, where the BJP fought the Lok Sabha election with the AIADMK, it does not have a single MLA. Therefore, it is not a partner in power.
The NDA was in a much better position in December, 2017 when the BJP and its allies ruled 19 states. A year later, the BJP lost power to the Congress in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh.
In Andhra Pradesh, where the BJP-TDP alliance was in government, the TDP broke the alliance with the BJP in March 2018 while YSR Congress formed the government there in 2019 polls.
In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena quit the NDA after the state election and formed the government with the Congress and NCP.
Now Delhi has once again turned out to be a disappointment for the BJP.
With Arvind Kejriwal looking all set for a third term as Delhi Chief Minister, congratulatory wishes are pouring in from leaders cutting across party lines.
Chief Ministers of Kerala and West Bengal wished Kejriwal as the trends of Delhi Assembly poll results showed a clean sweep for the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
“Congratulations Arvind Kejriwal as Delhi results show Aam Aadmi Party all set to win the Election with a thumping majority yet again. Leaders playing on faith through hate speech ans divisive politics should take a cue, as only those who deliver on their promises are rewarded,” tweeted Bengal CM Banerjee.
Her Kerala counterpart Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted: “Congratulations to @ArvindKejriwal and @AamAadmiParty on a resounding victory in Delhi elections. Let this victory be a harbinger for pro-people and inclusive politics in our country.”
Apart from the two, DMK chief M.K. Stalin also congratulated Kejriwal.
“I congratulate Arvind Kejriwal and Aam Aadmi Party for forming government yet again in Delhi on a massive mandate. This is clear vindication that development trumps communal politics. Federal rights and regional aspirations must be strengthened in the interest of our country,” Stalin tweeted.
Congress leader Jaiveer Shergill also tweeted mentioning three things that Congress should not do today: “1. Justify own defeat 2. Find happiness in BJP defeat 3. Tell themselves that in Election wins & losses are cyclic,” as he congratulated “AAP for a well-deserved victory and running a focussed campaign.”
Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) chief Sharad Pawar also congratulated Kejriwal.
“Congratulations to Arvind Kejriwal-ji and AAP workers for achieving a ‘sweeping victory’ in the polls,” said Pawar.
After the counting trends pointed to an overwhelming victory for the Aam Aadmi Party in the Delhi Assembly election, workers and supporters gathered outside the party office were rejoicing.
Outside the AAP office at ITO, celebrations could be seen in different hues and shades.
On one side of the road, a few supporters were seen dancing away to the tunes emanating from traditional instruments.
On the other side of the street, many supporters holding brooms (‘jhadus’) were celebrating their party’s victory.
A few meters away from the party office, one could see a fruit seller distributing free oranges to the people and contributing to the celebrations.
The party office has been all decked up in white and blue, the colours of the party. It is decorated with blue and white balloons, posters, banners and hoardings of party chief Arvind Kejriwal.
Hailing AAP for its impressive election performance, Nationalist Congress Party’s (NCP) national spokesperson and state minister Nawab Malik said that the people of Delhi have resoundingly defeated Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) “arrogance”.
“Politics of hatred and division has been rejected and unity and brotherhood has won. The politics of sheer arrogance has been defeated and the people of Delhi have won,” said Malik.
He said that during the campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had appealed to the people of Delhi to vote against the “anti-national forces”.
“The people of Delhi have bowed before Modiji’s call. They have declared BJP as ‘anti-national’ now,” Malik said.
Senior Shiv Sena leader and state minister Anil Parab said that the people of Delhi have backed the development works of AAP and voted for the party.
“Despite deploying top leaders in the poll campaign, the BJP has been decisively rejected in Delhi as the people have voted on the issue of development only,” Parab said.
Senior BJP leader Sudhir Mungantiwar said that though the party did not fare as expected, it has improved upon its previous tally.
Mamata Banerjee described Aam Aadmi Party’s triumph in the Delhi Assembly polls as the victory of democracy and said people did not want divisive politics.
Banerjee, who called up AAP supremo and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to congratulate him on his party’s resounding success, later told media here that the BJP was losing every poll now.
“Democracy has won in Delhi. BJP is losing every poll everywhere. People do not want divisive politics,” she said. (IANS)