Delhi Broomance for AAP

Published: 11th February 2015 06:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 11th February 2015 09:09 AM   |  A+A-

  • AAP Gets 54% Voteshare, ‘AAp’eal Cuts across all sections Due to ‘ideology-less’ nature,
  • Minorities and rural, semi-urban belt with huge Jat population Reject BJP, Endorse Kejri Party
  • Factors of land, livelihood, cost of living HAND Party largest Win in assembly polls
  • Mandate will impact Jammu and Kashmir govt formation, Bihar and Budget session

NEW DELHI:Beyond the obvious generalities, the Delhi results also contain a few crucial psephological lessons. Everyone recognised, victor and vanquished included, that these elections mean much more than the keys to the 70-member Assembly.

But what does it mean exactly? Relative to other Indian metropolises, Delhi is the least homogeneous of cities. Its population is a huge mix and reflects the demographic ratio of the surrounding states faithfully. As a settler’s city, its vote in totality does not denote the vote of any particular social or class segment. Arvind Kejriwal’s political experiment, AAP, has won 67 of 70 Assembly segments on a second chance and this could be taken to voice the intentions and aspirations of a huge floating Indian population that has made Delhi its home.

DELHI.JPGWhich is not to say that Delhi cannot be analysed segment-wise — The first thing that calls for attention is not where AAP won, but where the BJP lost (from 31 down to three) and how the Congress got obliterated (67 of its 70 candidates their lost their deposits).

Because of its ‘ideology-less’ nature, AAP cuts across segments and ranges from the prosperous, the middle class and especially the more disenfranchised — the poor, the working class, the hawkers.

But Delhi has a large rural belt, now semi-urban in character but still with an identifiable voting pattern — one can see a homogeneous caste/class pattern in its voting behaviour, like in other states. This sub-region, in terms of seats, makes up nearly half of Delhi-adding up to about 30. And for two elections, this whole belt had voted BJP

In the December 2013 assembly election, when AAP got 29 seats to the BJP’s 31, a coloured map of seats won would have been very striking in its divisions.

With a settled Jat-Gujjar population, this swathe of “outer Delhi” had been quite clear in its intentions. In December 2013, when AAP had made forays everywhere else, it had failed to win even a single seat in this belt, which had gone conclusively with the BJP.

This was in line with how the Jats (a sizeable and decisive North Indian agrarian community) have been voting. In Delhi 2013, the 2014 Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana and eastern Rajasthan, and the Haryana Assembly elections after that, there had been no ambiguity in their vote.

Conversely, therefore, there is no ambiguity now about their vote going the other way. Because it’s not the vote of fence-sitters or late-deciders, or those who would go with the flow. It’s a solid bloc that has pressed the no button on the saffron party.

And just a handful of months after the ‘yes’ vote of Haryana, with which Delhi, and the community residing therein, forms a continuum.

That, more than anything else, is the most striking aspect of these results -- therewas no way AAP was going beyond the 30s or even the 40s in terms of seats (or 54.3  per cent vote-share, double 2013, as against BJP’s 32.2 per cent and Congress’ 9.7 per cent) if the Jat-belt had stayed with the BJP.

And 67, for APP, is quite unambiguous. What this relates to would be for the BJP to ponder over. A ‘no’ vote from a population that had been, so to speak, was quite on board with the saffron agenda. 

The reasons are probably a mix of the economic and  symbolic. For the latter, consider the Chief Minister of Haryana, Manohar Lal Khattar, a Punjabi immigrant in what is, pre-dominantly, a Jatland. And for the former, think land ordinance. The full meaning of which the intelligentsia probably has not grasped, but people on the ground tend to know because they think, it affects them directly. This is underscored by Anna Hazare in his congratulatory remarks on his former protégé, now CM-designate of Delhi, Kejriwal’s stunning victory.

These factors of land, livelihood, cost of living, small and marginal, aggregated to produce the largest ever vote (over 50 per cent) a single party has won in any Assembly election, where the Opposition has to be searched to be found, reduced to three.

How much this ‘AAPocalypse’ will impact the coming Bihar elections, West Bengal politics, the pending government formation in J&K and the Budget session of Parliament, the coming days and months would show.

But, one thing is clear, the BJP has to work harder, may be change its template a bit, to counter this jolt, the rejection of its chief ministerial project, Kiran Bedi, who lost, particularly when a declining Congress is not its main opponent.

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