Riding on its development agenda, the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is set to sweep Delhi assembly elections and retain power for a third term. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah-led BJP focussed excessively on Article 370, CAA and anti-Pakistan rhetoric to woo the voters. But the Delhi voter reposed faith in AAP, giving them over 60 seats.
Here's why the BJP lost to AAP in Delhi assembly elections:
Nationalism, Not Local Issues Dominated BJP’s Campaign
The BJP repeated the mistakes it made during the recently held assembly elections in Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Haryana. Its focus on Article 370, Kashmir, nationalism and Hindutva -- the issues that led to its massive win in Lok Sabha elections -- became the reason for its defeat in state elections, including Delhi. The saffron party and its leaders did little to reach out to voters on local issues. AAP, on the other hand, fought the campaign on governance and development model — mohalla clinics, free electricity and water, and education.
No Strong Face As CM Candidate
The BJP never announced its chief ministerial candidate and the lack of a credible face tilted results in favour of AAP. BJP leaders, including state party chief Manoj Tiwari, were no match for ‘aam aadmi’ Kejriwal.
“BJP will form the next government in Delhi under the leadership of PM Narendra Modi,” Shah said on January 6 addressing party workers amid questions about who the chief ministerial face would be.
Politics of Polarisation
The BJP campaign for Delhi was bitter and controversial. While Union Minister Anurag Thakur led a crowd of supporters chanting ‘goli maaron saalon ko’, Prakash Javadekar called Kejriwal a “terrorist.” AAP used the “terrorist” remark to its advantage and asked voters if they saw the CM as their “son” or a terrorist. It also challenged the saffron party to arrest the CM if they think he was a “terrorist”. “If Arvind Kejriwal is a terrorist, I challenge the BJP to arrest him,” AAP’s Sanjay Singh said.
At the centre of BJP’s polarising campaign was Shaheen Bagh, the area where women have been staging a sit-in for more than two months against Centre’s decision to implement Citizenship (Amendment) Cat (CAA). Home Minister Amit Shah asked Delhi voters to press the EVM button so hard that the current is felt at Shaheen Bagh. BJP’s Parvesh Verma said the protesters at Shaheen Bagh “will enter your homes and rape your daughters and sisters.”
Besides roadshows and public meetings, AAP’s social media campaign deserves the credit for the party’s impressive victory. From videos of school infrastructure to memes and parodies, AAP used social media strategy to take on BJP’s massive IT-cell. This was also the first time when AAP roped in election strategist Prashant Kishor and his organization I-PAC, which has worked with PM Modi and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar in the past.