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AAP, up and away in the Capital

Local issues carried the day for the party. The challenge now is to fulfil its promises.

comment Updated: Feb 10, 2015 21:46 IST
AAP
Celebrations-take-place-outside-Aam-Aadmi-Party-office-in-Patel-Nagar-Arun-Sharma-HT-Photo

They are only exit polls, not exact polls, said a senior BJP minister when most of them predicted an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) win. Indeed, they were not exact, they underrated vastly the magnitude of AAP’s victory, a spectacular 67 seats in the 70-member Delhi assembly. The BJP’s famed election fighting machine led by party president Amit Shah seemed to have misread completely the mood of the people. In the end, the poor and marginalised voted in massive numbers for AAP but then so did the middle class, which the BJP had hoped to mop up. The poor who felt disenfranchised in every way see a ray of hope in AAP as a party which will be mindful of their concerns. And for the middle class, perhaps achhe din is taking far too long in coming. Across the board, the people seem to have forgiven Arvind Kejriwal his ill-fated abdication after 49 days the last time around.

The startling fact is that over 50% of the vote has gone to AAP, leaving the others in its dust. The Congress has been totally wiped out, a result of bad planning, a paucity of ideas and a lacklustre campaign. The BJP clearly imagined that it could continue its winning streak in Delhi and, when it became clear that it was not going to be such an easy ride, made the mistake of deploying its heavy artillery. The BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, Kiran Bedi, may own up responsibility but Mr Modi himself held several rallies, many Cabinet ministers put their shoulders to the wheel and the RSS came out in full force in this election. The very choice of Ms Bedi had upset many in the party who felt that a rank outsider who until the other day was badmouthing the BJP had been handed the chief ministerial candidature on a platter.

In the end, it would seem that local issues carried the day and here AAP scored as it had begun its work several months ago while the Congress was licking its electoral wounds and the BJP was savouring its many successes. The cautious note that Arvind Kejriwal has sounded is welcome, that the party should not be overcome by arrogance, given its stunning victory. The challenge now is to fulfil its poll promises of free water and cheap electricity, among other things. Mr Kejriwal has to come up with his own version of a Niti Aayog to ensure that his government can raise the resources for the schemes that he wants to implement. But for the moment, he must want to sit back for a bit and thank his lucky stars that exit polls are not such an exact science after all.