NEW DELHI: In the Aam Aadmi Party’s big-bang return to power, the biggest factor seems to be its national convener and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Early in the campaign, the AAP had successfully established the ‘Kejriwal versus Who’ argument among the voters. And the face of Kejriwal appears to have worked for the party the third time, too.
The BJP was unable to put up a chief ministerial candidate against Kejriwal. The AAP took advantage of the rival’s weakness and succeeded in projecting Kejriwal as the aam aadmi’s well-wisher who will care for them as an ‘elder son’ or a ‘brother’ for the next five years. Another major factor was the populist route that the Kejriwal government took since AAP’s decimation in the Lok Sabha elections.
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It announced a string of policies providing direct benefit to the voters. Major among them are the free electricity up to 200 units and free travel for women in buses. Both the freebies, according to Delhi government estimates, saved each household almost Rs 2,000-Rs 3,000 per month, especially the economically weaker sections, which has come out in large numbers to vote for Kejriwal.
“Just look at the office of AAP, it is very humble-looking. They ask for donations and campaign with what they get from public. But just a few meters away is the BJP office which looks no less than a five-star hotel. BJP spends huge amounts on campaigning and show-off but people are suffering due to poor state of economy, no jobs, low salaries…Kejriwal is the only one who talked about such topics,” said Sadiq Khan, who was at AAP office to join the celebrations.
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Thirdly, in the last leg of the election campaign, BJP leaders including Union Minister Prakash Javadekar equated Kejriwal to a ‘terrorist’, a remark that backfired at the saffron party as the AAP made an emotional appeal to the people to decide whether he is one. The party also joined hands with political strategist Prashant Kishor’s I-PAC which gave an extra edge to its campaign machinery to take halt the BJP juggernaut.
“People with this mandate have showed Amit Shah and Modi that Kejriwal is not a terrorist but a hardcore nationalist,” said AAP’s Sanjay Singh.