A tale of pro-incumbency
AAP’s resounding victory in Delhi is proof that politics of division cannot hold ground against a campaign based on promises kept and inclusive development
A battalion of MPs, Ministers, CMs, MLAs, actors, singers, dancers and others, led by the Prime Minister and Home Minister, spreading venom of hatred against AAP for days, could not change the minds and hearts of Delhiites. Standing stoutly for the narrative of 'vote for work', they gave an emphatic vote for pro-incumbency and set a new benchmark for the voters across the country.
Yes, the massive mandate for Modi in 2019 was also pro-incumbency. But, it was not because of his government's performance. It was only because of the TINA factor; literally, there was a vacuum in the opposition. Moreover, there was suspected EVM tampering. Votes counted in 374 constituencies were much more than the votes polled, which are still not accounted for by the Election Commission, while they have destroyed VVPAT papers without even reconciling the figures and the SC is sleeping over the matter. However, after just managing Haryana and losing Maharashtra and Jharkhand, in spite of their high-voltage campaign, BJP has won a mere 10 per cent of seats against the 90 per cent of AAP in the house of 70 in Delhi. Why?
'All is well', the PM said at Howdy Modi in the US to impress his great friend, Donald Trump. While Trump claims his achievement in three years as, "jobs are booming, incomes are soaring, poverty is plummeting, crime is falling, confidence is surging, the US is thriving and respected again," the PM, on the other hand, had little to showcase after six years of rule.
The PM and his party have only created illusions to come to power. There is no sight of the Rs 15 lakh promised in every citizen's account, nor is there the creation of two crore jobs every year. Instead, poverty and unemployment have risen. Demonetisation not only caused great misery to people but it also robbed millions of people of their livelihood. Black money and electoral bonds have only filled their coffers. The economy is in doldrums, in which crony-capitalists, like Mukesh Ambani, insolvent Anil Ambani and others, in spite of their frauds, are thriving at the cost of PSUs and people. Every sector, automobile, agriculture, real estate, etc., is bleeding. NPAs and bank frauds have gone up to a lakhs of crores of rupees each. One per cent of the population is pocketing most of the country's wealth, leaving the majority in dire poverty. As a result, Oxfam International's 'Commitment to Reducing Inequality Index' ranks India at a pathetic 147, among 157 countries. Social Mobility Index places us at the bottom of the list.
Courtesy the government, in democratic traditions, India has slid in three years by 50 notches to be at 91 among 180 countries. Like Authoritarians, they have only decimated our democracy by bridling every institution – bureaucracy, RBI, CBI, ED, IT, EC, SC. Media has been made submissive. Every voice opposing the BJP is termed as 'Urban Naxal' and people arrested. Dissent is anathema. There are no debates or discussions.
On the other hand, communalism, cow-vigilantism, etc., have taken centre stage with no concern for human life is of no concern. Minorities were targeted in over 1,900 encounters in UP in one year, and cow-vigilantes were lynching with impunity. On the other hand, the ruling party worked to influence courts to protect their own men. We are among the unhappiest of countries, ranked 140 among 156 countries.
In order to divert the attention of the country from all their failures and misdeeds, surgical strikes, Kashmir, NRC, CAA, etc., have become their focal points. But, the patience of people has eroded. People are disillusioned. Now, country-wide protests have erupted. Again, Jamia Millia, JNU and now the persistent Shaheen Bagh being in the daily news, the scheming BJP has tried to use them in Delhi elections to supplement all the 'work' they did with AAP and the people in Delhi in the past 6 years.
Since the time AAP won 66 out of 70 seats in Delhi in 2015, every possible hurdle was created through the LG and the bureaucracy in every progressive plan of their government. Even the much-promised Jan Lokpal, passed by Delhi Assembly in 2015, remained in the racks of the Central government for their concurrence. When the Rs 50,000 crore corruption and fraud case against Mukesh Ambani along with corruption cases against Sheila Dikshit were taken up for investigation, the ACB of the state government itself was taken over by the central government to push them under the carpet.
Initial three-and-a-half years went by in the struggle of AAP with the centre. It was only after mid-2018 that AAP got the reprieve when SC declared, "People are sovereign and their powers exercised through the elected representatives and the Council of Ministers cannot be usurped by anyone." Post-haste, the Kejriwal government began taking forward their plans for the people of Delhi, setting a new standard of governance. Now, even the NITI Aayog's Innovation Index places them first among all the states for their innovative initiatives.
Prudently creating savings, they gave several reliefs to the residents of Delhi, like free water and electricity, free bus rides to women, pilgrimages to the elderly. Overcoming hurdles, health and education sectors were revolutionised. When MCDs and land departments controlled by the Centre did not cooperate, they installed street lights and CCTVs with the help of people by bearing the expenditure involved; created more classrooms in place of more schools and there are many more. It also worked as a people-friendly government with measures like door-delivery of rations and certificates, improving roads, public transport, sewerage, environment, etc.
Come Delhi elections, BJP was worried since they have nothing to impress Delhiites, even in the MCDs controlled by them. Thus, they have resorted to making tall promises but it did not work. Finally, they adopted the game-plan of 'polarisation and nationalism', using Shaheen Bagh as the pivot.
It was a carpet-bombing effort. Over 6500 rallies were addressed by roping in MPs, CMs, and others. Leaders camped in tents. Door-to-door campaigns were held. Venom was spewed against Kejriwal and APP. The Home Minister told the people, "Press the EVM button so hard that the current hits those sitting in Shaheen Bagh." They called Kejriwal a 'terrorist' and defined the election along 'India vs Pakistan' lines. However, Kejriwal handled everything with
elan, focussing only on development and the services rendered, since for him, good governance is a term that describes various normative accounts of how public institutions ought to conduct public affairs and manage public resources.
People of Delhi have realised that AAP sincerely stands for the common man, for honesty, innovation, development, harmony and works for devolution of power to the people. Their chorus in support of AAP only speaks of the love and trust the city-government has won. The Delhi model has proved to be several times better than the Gujarat model. It is a model of true governance.
With this new tale of pro-incumbency seen in the electoral battle, it is now for the people of the country to change the game of politics to elect only those parties and individuals who have delivered to meet the needs of people, by keeping emotive issues at bay.
The writer is a retired IPS officer and a former Member of Public Grievances Commission, Delhi. Views expressed are strictly personal