Congratulations to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) for their resounding victory in the 2015 Delhi assembly elections. The ‘broom’ literally swept the capital clean. No pundit, opinion poll or exit poll, predicted the magnitude of their victory. A new chapter has been written in Indian politics which writes in bold and capital, that you don’t need to rely on communal polarization, dynasty and hundreds and thousands of crores to fight and win an election.
The following are the five biggest takeaways from this election:
1.) Be Humble and Apologize.
A masterstroke by Kejriwal. He apologized to the nation umpteen number of times for running away from power after just 49 days. There was genuineness in his apology and the decisive verdict proves, that people were willing to give him a second chance.
2.) Modi-Shah duo is no longer infallible.
The biggest takeaway from this election. It demolished the invincible aura that the duo enjoyed. The hubris that exuded from the BJP’s demeanour too would’ve been shattered. In a way, this is a good thing for the ruling party as well as the Indian democracy. Too much of centralized and concentrated power at the hands of a few, will always be detrimental in the long run. The winning streak and the public mandate that they enjoyed, gave them a garb to hide under, whenever questions were raised regarding the increasing communal tensions. Hopefully, the BJP will gracefully swallow the bitter pill and get back to their original agenda and promise of ‘acche din’, development and good governance.
3.) Caustic and negative campaigns don’t work.
The BJP made the same mistake which the congress did in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. They should’ve realized from the congress’s puerile strategy, that vitriolic campaigns targeting an individual doesn’t really work. On the contrary, the constant accusations and name calling like ‘bhagoda’, ‘Back stabber’, ‘Naxalite’, ‘Anarchist’ etc. evoked sympathy among the voters and turned Kejriwal from a ‘bhagoda’ to a ‘bechara’.
4.) State elections are about micro issues, not macro.
The AAP was accused of playing agitational politics and being inept at governance. To counter this, they released a detailed and meticulously etched out manifesto to deal with the electricity, water and infrastructural problems. The BJP on the other hand was content with just a vision document which doesn’t mean anything.
Throughout their rallies, the BJP went overboard in selling their ‘centre-state-same-party’ logic, but barely addressed the local issues that plague the people day in and day out. I saw a YouTube video of Amit Shah’s rally, wherein all he doing was extolling the governance of the BJP in the last nine months, the falling oil prices, the Obama visit and India’s deterring response to Pakistan’s ceasefire violations and infiltrations.
5.) Don’t parachute land your leaders at the last moment.
Kiran Bedi is a classic example of why you shouldn’t parachute land your leaders at the last moment. Instead, strengthen your state organisational unit, empower and groom the local leaders. Harsh Vardhan should’ve been the ideal candidate as he won the BJP 32 seats in the last assembly elections. But Amit Shah & Co. tried to be too clever by half and the end result was 19 Ministers, 120 MPs and a mute Bedi against one man.
AAP regrouped after their debacle in the Lok Sabha elections and began their campaign well in advance with the Delhi dialogues. By the time the BJP took stock of the situation, it was already too late.
Commendable work as well as a strong reminder by Barkha Dutt & NDTV.
When you claim to be ‘Holier than thou’, even the slightest of blemish on your character, will be examined scrupulously. This is what happened with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Monday night, when the AAP Volunteer Action Manch (AVAM), a splinter group of the AAP accused the latter of money laundering, labelling it as the ‘Midnight Hawala’ scam. The AVAM revealed that the AAP accepted two crore rupees donation from dubious companies. Four cheques, each of rupees 50 lakh were deposited into their account at midnight all at the same time.
Let’s make certain things clear from the beginning.
- This is not a ‘hawala’ scam as the payment was made via cheque.
- Money was deposited on April 5th, 2014, more than 8 months ago.
- Exposing this only 5 days before the election day makes the timing suspicious.
- BJP hand behind this operation and their nexus with the AVAM cannot be ruled out.
Additionally, I wouldn’t use the word ‘expose’, as the information was procured from the AAPs website and not through confidential documents or a sting operation. The most amusing and ironical part of the proceedings, is that the BJP and the congress are going all guns blazing against the AAP. The two national parties just cannot take a morally superior position in this matter. Thousands of crores of funding for the BJP comes from ‘Unknown Sources’ and some of the biggest scams in the history of independent India, happened under the congress regime. The congress in fact, had the temerity to dismiss the 2G scam by claiming that there has been ‘Zero loss to the exchequer.’
The AAP has formed a Political Affairs Committee (PAC) which investigates all donations which are more than 9,99,999 rupees. Though the AAP has demanded a Supreme Court monitored SIT probe on this, they should just admit that there was a lapse in their diligence and not indulge in rhetoric. The primary defense put forward by Kejriwal and his party men, is that the donations were made by cheque and that they examine only the following three things: 1) if it’s a registered company, 2) their PAN card 3) Cheque of a valid bank account. According to them, they receive thousands of donations every day and it is not pragmatic to check balance sheets and profit and loss accounts of every single company.
While this make sense to a degree, I cant fathom out why their alarm bells didn’t ring when four companies each donating 50 lakh rupees by cheque were all deposited at the exact same time? If I had a NGO and someone was so charitable to donate such a large amount, I would definitely want to enquire and find out who these people are. Granted they might be receiving thousands of donations per day, but in actuality, how many of them donate 50 lakhs and above? Did they not even for once feel the need to meet the proprietors of the company and establish whether there is any expectation of a Quid Pro Quo? Or is that an irrelevant factor? Lots of unanswered questions.
Still five more days to go before the results are out. Will the voters be swayed away from the AAP due to this? We’ll get the answer on the 10th of this month.
World oil prices Jan2009: $44 per barrel, petrol in Delhi Rs40 per Litre
World oil prices Jan2015: $44,per barrel, petrol in Delhi Rs58.per Litre
Difference: BJP taxes.
The only real defense i think of for the reduction in subsidy, is that BJP wants to improve the fiscal deficit.
Isn’t 18Rs too big a hike? are they willing to explain this to the voters?
Politicians switching sides and ideologies is no news. Mass exodus from a political party usually occurs after the party suffers or is likely to suffer a humiliating defeat in the elections. It is like rats deserting a sinking ship. However, there are those who stand by their party through thick and think despite being fully aware of the possible outcome.
Hence, when a congress loyalist like Jayanthi Natarajan, who has been with the congress party for 30 years, resigns in the manner that she did, it severely dents whatever little positive image that was still associated with the congress (if at all there was any). It reinforces the well-known fact that Manmohan Singh was just a puppet and that the strings were held by Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul Gandhi. It sheds light on the way in which the mother and son duo handled the functioning of the cabinet.
Her letter reveals how Rahul Gandhi interfered with the working of the environment ministry. I quote, “I received specific requests [which used to be directives for us] from Shri Rahul Gandhi and his office forwarding environmental concerns in some important areas and I took care to honour those “requests. Shri Rahul Gandhi went in person to Niyamgiri Hills in Odisha, and publicly declared to the Dongria Kondh tribals that he would be their “sipahi” and would not allow their interests to suffer at the hands of mining giant Vedanta.” However, at the FICCI meet on 21st December, 2013, Rahul Gandhi blamed the environment ministry for stalling important projects. Natarajan was later made to resign under the orders of Sonia Gandhi in the pretext of “party work” and her successor Veerappa Moily cleared 70 projects in 20 days.
The congress wanted a scapegoat to justify and defend the poor economy and the stalling of big industrial projects. The Lok Sabha elections were only four months away and the congress high command sagaciously used this opportunity to project Rahul Gandhi as the saviour. An age old manoeuvre of the congress. Whatever good that is achieved by the congress party will be credited to Rahul Gandhi and the party men will bear the brunt for all the mishandlings and wrong doings of the first family. Having said that, Natarajan is equally guilty of being an accomplice in this act and comes out equally bad. If there are legal implications, then she too has to suffer the consequences.
This revelation also raises pertinent questions. If Natarajan considers herself honest, then why did she go against the constitution and honoured Rahul Gandhi’s requests? How many times has Rahul Gandhi interfered like this? Has he made such ‘requests’ to other ministries as well? Was there any corruption and quid pro quo in clearing the projects? Should the ‘Jayanthi Tax’ allegation by Narendra Modi investigated?
It is also telling, the way loyalty is rewarded in the congress scheme of things. Natarajan defended the Gandhis during the whole ‘Jayanthi Tax’ fiasco and the back stabbing by Rahul Gandhi and yet, he could not even bother to take time out to explain his actions. According to the letter, he was running a little late and never got back to her ever since. Well, Mr. Gandhi sure has loads of time at his disposal for his foreign trips, but no time for loyal party men.
I won’t be surprised if the Gandhis stay true to their customary style and ignore the media and the accusations surrounding them and continue to live in their bubble of denial and indifference. As it is, the congress has lost its position as a national party of any relevance and is diminishing by the day. A major chunk of this decline can be directly attributed to the first family, their arrogance, their denial and their style of functioning.
If such resignations, revelations and inept leadership continues, the congress on its own will fulfil the BJP’s vision of a congress-mukht Bharat.
On 19th January, 2015, when Kiran Bedi was appointed as the BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate for Delhi, most people viewed it as a masterstroke by Amit Shah, who has been the principle strategist and brains behind BJP’s winning streak in 2014.
However, over the past 10 days, it seems as if the strategy has yielded a mixed bag. I would go one step ahead and say that, it is tilting more towards the negative than the positive with the series of gaffes and U-Turns that she has been making. The biggest irony and contributor towards that tilt would be her joining politics, after investing decades in criticizing politicians and labelling them as thieves. The media and her political opponents have gone all out in digging up her past and exposing her U-Turns. So, all bedi has done in the last one week, is defend her erstwhile actions and positions and made politically immature statements and U-Turns.
The political immaturity displayed by the AAP’s and BJP’s Delhi CM candidates in the run up to the elections is baffling.
Arvind Kejriwal comes across as someone, who is slightly more mature than Kiran Bedi but that can be attributed to his being in full time politics for over 2 years.
Now lets look at the comments made by Kejriwal in the past couple of weeks.
- Wont stop dharnas even if I am elected again.
- Take bribes but still vote for our party.
Also, the way he cried foul over not been invited for R-Day parade just makes matters worse as it comes across as a classic case of sour grapes.
Even Kejriwal is not exempt from making U-Turns. The two most striking examples would be joining active politics after vowing never to and accepting external support from the congress even after swearing on his children.
Bedi’s comments demand a bifurcation into gaffes and U-Turns. Let us go with her U-Turns first shall we?
- CM of Gujarat has a right to fast for communal harmony. But what if he first planned to reach out to families in need of healing? (15 Sep, 2011)
- Modi as per SIT may be passing the legal exam but its yet to pass prevailing perception of serious incidents which occurred under his watch. (10 April, 2012)
- One day, NaMo needs to respond with clarity about riots massacre, despite courts clearing him so far. (16 Mar, 2013)
- Considerable difference between Uttarakhand lokayukta drafted by General Khanduri’s state govt (then) and now by NaMo now. Former was stronger. (03 April, 2013)
- Key question for April 9 FICCI event for NaMO be: Why has Gujarat passed a ‘controlled’ lokayukt? Let’s see if some dare to? (5 April, 2013)
- It will be a shame on both main national parties if they unite to keep political funding out of RTI. Neither deserve our vote. (9 May, 2013)
The above comments were made only a couple of years ago. So, what changed? Because none of the questions that she raised above have been answered in reality. In addition to it, hardly any progress on those fronts have taken place. The most bewildering U-Turn was her admission that she did not tow Indira Gandhi’s car and that it was actually towed by a sub-inspector of her unit.
Now, time for her gaffes and politically immature statements.
- If Kejriwal wants an invitation to the R-Day parade, then he should join the BJP.
- I am not an expert on the BJP or the RSS.
- I would think here is an organisation (RSS) which kept India together, which has kept India neat.
- I am the moment of the moment.
- I think he is playing sob sob.
- I have filed my nomination and I have cleared my first examination with flying colours… No error has been found in my nomination papers. I have got first class first, gold medal.
In an interview to Sreenivasan Jain on NDTV dated 21st January, 2015, she prevaricated when she was asked about her opinion on the RSS stance of a Hindu Rashtra. She in fact, went ahead and termed RSS as ‘the world’s largest social organization’.
The BJP has probably realized the situation getting more and more precarious by the day and thus is on the backfoot. This explains why Bedi is on ‘voice rest’, why 14 Union ministers are campaigning in Delhi and why Arun Jaitley, the finance minister of our country despite the budget coming up in a couple of weeks is holding meetings every day. Obvious signs of nervousness.
The assembly elections in Maharasthra, Jharkhand and Haryana were more or less a cakewalk for the BJP with each of the above state facing serious anti-incumbency and/or corruption issues. Modi alone was enough to single-handedly sweep the above three states and make huge in-roads in Jammu & Kashmir. But now, Kejriwal poses a serious threat to BJP and could possibly be the person who breaks their winning streak.