If exit poll numbers are to be believed, the Aam Aadmi Party, belying all expectations, will form the next government in Delhi. To the surprise of even seasoned political commentators, all exit polls from the assembly elections in the national capital have indicated that AAP will secure a comfortable majority. Today’s Chanakya, the pollsters that got the last Delhi assembly elections and the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 right gave AAP a massive 48 seats in the 70-seat assembly. The significance of these numbers is further accentuated by the record voter turnout, which amounted to 67.21 per cent. The average of all exit polls at 3 pm had given the AAP 43.7 per cent vote share and 41 seats, compared to the Bharatiya Janata Party’s 35 per cent and 26 seats. The Congress is a very distant third. The BJP, however, disputes the claims made by most exit polls. The saffron party is confident that it will win 34 seats in Delhi assembly elections. Leaders from the BJP have insisted that a late surge voters post 3 pm would swing things their way. Everyone must, therefore, hold their horses before the final results are out on February 10. Although exit poll numbers are significantly more accurate than opinion polls, these figures are never definitive. In fact AAP leader Yogendra Yadav also urged caution among his party’s supporters and felt the need to tweet out exit poll numbers from the last assembly elections, where the BJP ended up with 32 and AAP 28.
These numbers, taken at face value, could have a massive bearing on Indian politics. The state itself may not be significant in terms of numbers or the larger question of governance, considering that law and order and land do not come under its jurisdiction. AAP’s imminent victory in Delhi, however, could hugely dent the massive political capital that Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP President Amit Shah have generated over the past two years. Unless the exit polls get it terribly wrong, the Shah-Modi juggernaut will have well and truly come to an end. Having a chief minister, who will not always play ball with the Centre, right under prime minister’s nose, will also make it harder for the Modi-led development narrative. If AAP’s manifesto is to be believed, it will work towards developing the national capital that follows a different narrative from what the current dispensation offers. A case in point is the party’s staunch opposition to the Centre’s land acquisition ordinance. Since it is the national capital, Delhi will also get an inordinate amount of media coverage. There are two possible outcomes that could emerge out of these elections, if the exit polls are proven right. One, it may just get harder to sell the two-term Modi ‘sarkar’. The other outcome, however, could be that these elections prove to be a wakeup call for the current dispensation. Such a rude shock might push the Modi-led government towards acting upon the development mandate it sold to the people before the Lok Sabha polls. Besides, the national capital also sends three members to the Upper House of Parliament, where the BJP is woefully short of numbers.