The overwhelming verdict in favor of Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi has given a new dimension to the politics in country. What it means for national politics? What it mean for Regional Parties? Will it change the political landscape? Is the Modi wave over? Is this verdict on the Central Government? These are some of questions which are occupying the Public discourse at the moment.
As saying goes, success has many fathers while defeat is an orphan. Punditry and media has already started pouring their sagacious advices to BJP. The so called intellectuals class and foreign media (even diplomats) have offered their suggestions. The two telling are of Saba Naqvi who expressed his emotions by twit highlight Communal Agenda of BJP”BJP got less seats than the number of children they want women to have! They’ll really have to reproduce fast now….”
It is well established convention that foreign ambassadors don’t comment on local political events. But German Diplomat Michael Steiner has commented “Confirms my conviction tht Indian voter can’t be taken for granted: Michael Steiner, German Ambassador on Delhi polls results”. This raises important questions. What role does foreign diplomat has in domestic politics? What agenda, do they have? Are they expressing their sympathies to the Christian brethren in India? These questions need careful analysis but government of India need to immediately summon the German Ambassador for interfering in domestic politics. You could ignore such things at your peril. Recently Israel called back Diplomatic Staff who retwitted the content critical of their incumbent Prime Minister. Procedure should be followed by MEA to send a message that India would not tolerate any interference in its domestic politics.
International media terms BJP’s Delhi defeat as ‘political earthquake’. What is motive behind this? We need to be cautious on this. When was last time foreign media reported a state election with such enthusiasm, focusing covertly and overtly on contentious issues remotely associated with campaign.
While such issue raises the questions about the intent and motives of various supports of the winners in capital, it goes without saying that there are many genuine reasons for this verdict. Some of Reasons are:
- AAP Run Better Campaign than BJP:
- BJP fought election like a government. It was Government (slow, repetitive, predictable) vs Pary (Innovation, fighting spirit, dynamic, Coherent) The campaign of BJP looked like it was incumbent in Delhi wherein the fact was it was out of power for last 16 years (yes, 16 years). Being projected as incumbent without being in power is double blow.
- BJP gave too much importance to the opponent and focused only highlighting negative of opponents rather than projecting its own agenda. After sometime, people started sympathizing with them. BJP didn’t take any lesson from what congress did to Modi.
- It was pre-scripted campaign rather than dynamic campaign they run in Lok-Sabha Election taking into cognizance the changing situation.
- Constant media blitzkrieg has diminishing return. Giving ads for month doesn’t give any return. Slowly people got fed up with propaganda and look for innovation.
- People wanted to give AAP chance to fulfill the promises. They want to experiment with new establishment. This was one big reason for big increase in vote share (this especially prompted the neutral votes towards the AAP).
- Massive Shift of Congress + Others towards the AAP. Many of committed Congress supporter have no option but to choose the AAP over the BJP. Lower Middle Class (Delhi hardly have BPL Population) & Minorities voted en mass to AAP.
- Inducting Outsiders – While inducting Bedi wasn’t bad decision, the timing wasn’t correct. Secondly, she was not prepared to face the media and public with her decision. She wasn’t convincing and persuasive enough. It proved to the blow to any chance of winning the capital. Here, BJP wasn’t able to manage perception to its advantage in last phase and lead to landslide victory of AAP. Similarly fielding outside candidates does demoralize the committed cadres and they are no longer interested in working for win of party.
- Real Engagement with voters by BJP was missing. Innovation way to hear and convince the people about their agenda was missing. There was no real engagement. At time of LS Election there was real engagement with all section through different methodology.’ Chai pe Charcha’ in which Leaders engaged with small crowd, provided them real feedback with dilution and helped them to remain grounded. AAP taking cue from success of same replicated same in ‘Delhi Dialogue’ to put forward its agenda.
- Media and Perception Management: In politics Perception matter as much content. BJP failed in this while AAP captured it to its advantage. One telling instance was induction of Mrs Bedi in Party and Subsequent fiasco. Every aspirant to joining politics should know what to speak and above all how to speak. In politics and public it is sine-quo-none. A wrong word or sentence may spoil your political chance. PR guys may help you to certain extent but common sense is what matters ultimately. The New professional who want to enter the politics need to take the lesson from this case study. The media wasn’t fair to Bedi nor was Bedi prepared to take the new role. Delhi is a City state. Here influence of media was much greater than elsewhere in India.
- Strategist did a disastrous job as always. Ignoring people connected with ground and giving too much importance to Delhi Coterie did cost the BJP. (Link to Lok Sabha vedict Blog)
- It’s true that arrogance crept too early in many Ministers and winners. They started ignoring the Karyakartas and become too indulgent.
- One news article picked up by foreign News-site and then highlighted by Indian Media – Modi wearing Pin Strap Suit – in one way was turning point. It made task of AAP much easier to convince the lower middle class that BJP would loot the state.
- Social Media Campaign can’t be run entirely by select team of people. Rather it draws its strength from real supporters on ground. It is reflection of ground reality. You need to institutionalize this by having constant and regular interaction. If you ignore them after winning and don’t respect their opinion, you are inviting trouble for you. You need to engage them, respect their ideas and put them in governance so that they feel empowered. It can’t be ones in 5 year or election time exercise nor it be supplanted by once in month story planted in media how someone’s work got done by intervention of PMO. People in Modern interactive world demand real time governance. People want their voices heard. They want to instant grievance redressal.
- Public Grievance Redressal issues weren’t addressed effectively. It is one of main issue which can build up or diminished the support. Inability of NDA to address this issue is one of reason for people’s frustration with current government. An effective Public Grievance System can fulfill the promises of ‘Acche Din’.
- Manifesto or vision documents are not a something which can be drawn in drawing room and put forward. It needs to be an interactive process. AAP did fine job, tough more ceremonial, through Delhi Dialogue while BJP ignored and paid price in terms of visionless agenda.
What wrong lessons most punditry will draw from this election. Here are some probables:
- Its blow to Modi. While in actuality it’s not. Modi still is a national leaders and he would remain so in times to come.
- Media would think that they are arbitrator of public opinion and want their voice to treat as ultimate public opinion.
- People voted for free utilities and services. Many would lecture that entitlement (UPA Pet theme) is what the people want. Free Water, Free Electricity, Free Wifi, Educational loans to every student irrespective of income status etc.
- Congress Supporters or Anti BJP would project it as win of congress style secularism or pseudo-secularism and rejection of politics of communalism by BJP.
- Many pundits would predicts that Kejriwal is going to be future Prime Minister but building organization is a long term process and it take its own time.
- Modi needs to comment on each and every instance of anything remotely associated with BJP.
Some Real Lessons from Election –
- There is no substitute for real engagement. Uniform template doesn’t work i.e. one fit size mostly fails.
- Elections have become personality centric. Its Main contenders (Prime Ministerial Candidate at Centre and Chief Minister at State) who matters rather than individual candidate.
- Indian is very political and they can never be taken for granted. The Humble in politics is best asset. Ye Junta kisi ki nahi hoti.
- Media play a big role in shaping the perceptions. It is especially true in urban areas.
- People wanted that there should be some oppositions and BJP winning in so many states may not be good for long term politics of nation as it would give it unbridled power.
- As one of friend on Facebook has rightely summed up – ‘If BJP thinks its verdict for Delhi then its wrong, if AAP think its beyond Delhi then they are also wrong’.
On Future – How will Delhi Elections impact the Centre-State Relation?
Many pundits have raised questions that Centre would deprive Delhi of funds and may not allow the Arvind Kejriwal to govern. This is baseless and unfounded. History shows that BJP rarely engage in confrontational or revenge politics. It may be sometime bad for their political career but as a party they believe in putting nation above the party politics, at least that can be safely said about previous PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Current Prime Minister Narendra Modi. This can be one of reason for lack of action against Sonia Gandhi and Robert Vadera. Since Sonia didn’t hold any official post, it would be hard to prove cases against him in any court of law.
In actuality, Centre would extend full support (as was available before) to Delhi to solve its problem, develop it as world class city. In fact , Prime Minister would get best companion in form of Arvind Kejriwal to implement the vision of Smart City. Offcourse this comes with a rider – AAP need to avoid unnecessary confrontation and need to focus on implementing their vision related to development rather than just lecturing on ideology or doing dharna.
It’s time for AAP and BJP both to focus on development, good governance and to work coordinately to improve the lives of peoples of Delhi. National prosperity should be our common objective irrespective of political ideology.