OPINION

The Delhi Spring

Arvind Kejriwal has done something uncommon, extraordinary and outstanding by scooping up 67 of the 70 Assembly seats in Delhi, leading a two-year old outfit, aptly named the Aam Aadmi Party or the common man’s party. The sweeping scale of his victory shows that the aspirations of the common voter for transformational politics have embodied themselves in a wave that swept all the other parties including the BJP to the fringes. It underscores the rising expectations of ordinary people for transparent and accessible governance, delivering on promises. The party and Mr. Kejriwal were ridiculed and caricatured by opponents for the agitations — first over the right to information and later against corruption — that built him as a politician. The AAP did not win a single seat in Delhi in the Lok Sabha elections. But Mr. Kejriwal stood his ground. He mobilised the widespread discontent among ordinary people with conventional politics, offering them a new hope, of politics that offers clean and sensitive governance. A cross-section of Delhi’s population cutting across age, class, caste and gender appears to have voted for the AAP, obliterating the Congress and reducing the BJP to single-digit status. They put their money where their hearts were, generously contributing from their hard-earned, tax-paid wealth to AAP funds, which were open to public scrutiny.



Prime Minister Narendra Modi told the people of Delhi to elect a Chief Minister who “feared Modi”. By electing a Chief Minister who is far from being scared of Mr. Modi, and has often dared to take him head-on, the people of Delhi have refused to accept fear as a driving force in their electoral choices. The Delhi result is a categorical repudiation of the unilateralism that has come to characterise the Bharatiya Janata Party under the leadership of Mr. Modi and party president Amit Shah. This tendency was most sharply exemplified in the act of imposing a rank outsider, Kiran Bedi, as the party’s chief ministerial candidate at the last moment. Only eight months ago, the BJP had won all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi and led in 60 Assembly segments. The dramatic downfall requires the BJP to look within and acknowledge that sledgehammer politics, which may be convenient in the short run, can rebound with disastrous results not only for the party but also for the polity at large. Mr. Modi represented change in May 2014. The AAP’s victory in Delhi must remind the BJP of the possibility that there can be change beyond Mr. Modi too. As for the humiliated Congress, which failed to get a single seat, the election result is another signal that it must get its house radically in order. We wish Mr. Kejriwal’s Delhi Spring well. But we also urge him to recognise that the widespread expectations of his commitment to accessible governance are what have brought him to power. Only then would it really be the rule of the Aam Aadmi.

Recommended for you