There is much curiosity nowadays about who will win the Delhi Assembly election. Will Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) succeed to retain power on its claim of work on electricity, health, education, water, etc, which are indeed public concerns and their daily issues? Or the Bharatiya Janata Pary (BJP) will turn the tables in the name of just national issues, Ram Mandir, abrogation of Article 370, and the implementation of the newly enacted Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA) to protect the persecuted Hindu and other minorities in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan.
Although Delhi has just 70 seats with only 14 million voters which is less than 2% of India’s electorate and is not even a full-fledged state. But its politics is of much significance because it is the national capital and the house of all the foreign consulates, the hub of all media reporting and is a genuine microcosm of actual India.
Delhi voters demonstrate the full assortment of Indian politics, ideologies, opinions, religions, regions, castes and concerns. Delhi election can be said to set the political tone for the rest of India.
The entire country, from the college and university campuses to the buzzing streets, are caught up in controversial issues and protesting over the declining economy, unemployment, Kashmir, the CAA, the National Register of Citizens and National Population Register, violence in universities, police atrocities and strikes by unions.
The people of every city of India are raising their voices themselves, whether in college or university assemblies or in the protest marches, loud enough to be heard above the din of the city. But the best response in a democracy is when a citizen casts his vote for a political party to show his actual power. It shows whether he is standing with divisive policies which are, indeed, a threat to his fundamental rights enshrined in the constitutions, or will he be swayed by false allurements by political leaders.
The nature of the BJP has became crystal clear for the last few years that it always attempts to avoid and even refuses to either acknowledge the public unrest and their real concerns or engage with them. This is in marked contrast to earlier protests when the governments watered down their policies and agreed to sit with the protesters and engage in dialogue.
The present government continues to defend itself by dissembling and telling half-truths even about the historical facts, branding all those opposing its policies anti-national, and unleashing waves of uniform repression.
Kejriwal is a bureaucrat, and though he has been at loggerheads with the central government in the early days of his government, he has his fingertips on the pulse of the people, and what they actually want. He has moderated his agitational impulses and focused instead on electricity, education facilities and has taken some steps to reduce pollution in the capital.
The Delhi election will be a referendum either on Kejriwal’s achievements or Modi’s divisive policies. And of course the results of these elections are likely to signal a shift in the course of our democracy.
As the vote swing of Delhi voters makes Delhi election interesting, suspenseful till the last moment, the victory for Kejriwal is not going to be a very easy task particularly after seeing the Lok Sabha elections of 2019 in which BJP made a clean sweep.
To undercut Kejriwal’s primary schemes which benefit the poor, the Modi government took a decision to regularize several unauthorized colonies in Delhi it becomes more difficult. This was with the hope of gaining electoral dividends.
However, it is going to be a tough battle between Namdar (namesake leader) and Kamdar (hardworking leader) and between issues like the Ram Mandir, Kashmir, implementation of the CAA (as the BJP campaigns on these issues) and the issues like water, health, road, electricity (as the AAP is campaigning on these issues).
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)