The election results of the Municipal Corporaton of Delhi (MCD) are going to be the topic of debate among politicians as well as the ordinary voters for quite some time for at least three reasons.
First of all, it looks that there is a new trend among the voters — to be decisive in their mandate. Secondly, the national questions are making their appearance in the local and provincial political contests in very significant proportion. Thirdly, there is a paradoxical behaviour of the voters, who are simultaneously rallying for political reforms behind moral leaders such as Anna Hazare as well as making long queues at the polling booths even if there are not any significant improvements in the choices available within the political parties.
It is not easy to agree with the Congress’ response that the MCD-related election result must be seen within the local framework of the political field because MCD occupies a relatively higher status in terms of the political parameters than an average city council of the country. It is also significant in negative terms for Congress because the theme song of the BJP campaign was increasing corruption in the Congress regime.
On the other hand, the winners of this election must be as surprised as the winners of the assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab because BJP was a divided house from the very beginning of the campaign.
One cannot miss the link between the mood of the voters at the moment and the overall disenchantment with the Congress leadership regarding price rise, crime against women and the declining livelihood opportunities in the Capital city.
Finally, there is a silver lining for all the well-wishers of Delhi because of increased participation of the people of the city in a relatively free and fair election due to proactive stance of the election commission.
If congress leadership takes it as a wake-up call, the result may prove to be a short-term loss for a long-term gain. It is a referendum about the cumulative perception of the present state of affairs in Delhi. It is a vote for change and if the change can be translated into style of governance and in the direction of development, then Congress can earn the dividends.
Anand Kumar is professor of Sociology at JNU