An expected verdict: a debacle for the BJP. Congress humiliation too was obvious to all including Congress members. Result was the people’s reward for a performing government. The aam aadmi stood with the Aam Aadmi Party.
Delhi saw one of the most high voltage campaigns, and an ugly one at that. For theBJP another setback in a state election in the last one year, though Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Home Minister Amit Shah, BJP President J.P. Nadda along with a host of veteran saffron leaders landed in Delhi to take part in the campaign. They campaigned to win Delhi and put an end to the successive debacles in state elections, as BJP is becoming a phenomena of the Centre which made Mamta Bannerjee comment that ‘it (BJP) is a state less party’! Slogans like Goli Maro, and calling the Delhi Chief Minister ‘Terrorist’, heard in the campaign, did not help them succeed.
Briefly put, Kejriwal’s performance could take on all the challenges. His model for governance aimed at ease of living for the poorer sections of the society, like giving free water and electricity, better quality of education in government schools, free ride in public transport services, free medical assistance through mohalla clinics - most of it a boon to lower middle class and poor families, particularly to women – made Kejriwal a hero among the masses. Notably, the money saved through these measures was in the hands of the lady of the house and did not go for drinking and consequent troubles for the family. Campaigns pooh-poohing Kejriwal model did not make much of an impact. Kejriwal’s agenda of Ease of Living for the poor had a massive impact in Dilli and the masses have made the capital virtually AAP Ki Dilli going by the massive mandate. With modifications, Kejriwal’s Agenda can be made into Ease of Living for the poor in the whole of India as well, which may lead to even AAP ki Bharat!
In contrast, the BJP‘s agenda of Ease of doing Business did not go well with the masses or the businessmen. This agenda led to more and more concessions to the rich and the mighty. The programme looked as though what is good for the business is good for India. The experience of the masses like record unemployment, alarmingly falling growth rate, adverse impact of demonetization, faulty implementation of GST coupled with inflationary trends alienated them from the NDA government at the Centre. Its recent policies not only alienated the minorities from the government but also created disquiet in society. There were angry protests by the youth across the country.
Also the failures of the Congress seventy years ago, the attack on dynasty, purveying wrong facts and info, communal calls and citizenship laws and regulations, repeatedly aired from public platforms by BJP leaders and ministers and telecast almost daily by friendly channels became too much for the people to watch day after day.
Though Modiji continues to be popular the other senior BJP veterans do not have such influence on the minds of the masses. Also, the second line leadership in the party at the national and state levels is dwindling. Hindutva is not as potential as it used to be and with the decision on building the Ram Mandir, its potential for mobilization of votes is lost. The poor state of the economy and its consequences are visiting the households making the lives of the poor a continuous struggle. To continue as a potent political force, the party needs to go for course correction in which there should be policies to improve the lives of the common people not just catchy slogans.
For the Congress too, the situation is of serious concern. The ageing leadership at the national level does not have much to offer in terms of dynamic policies and programmes. Few new ideas sprout from their heads. The youth and women in the party do not have much chance to come up, influence policies and put forward innovative programmes, though it was Rajiv Gandhi who decades ago initiated the generational change in the party. Rahul Gandhi is trying to help the emergence of youth at the leadership level, but he faces tremendous resistance. If the somewhat senile leadership of the party is not replaced, this oldest national party may not have much of a future. What is needed is responding to the changes taking place in the polity and to align with the political forces which are in conformity with the ideals of the Congress.
The Aam Aadmi wave in Delhi has exposed the weaknesses of the yesteryears ruling party and the current one in India. Instead of trying to correct history and indulge in creating caste and communal divisions in the party, the BJP leadership must evolve policies which will help the poor to have a better living and look forward to a bright future for the family. In the changing world what is important is to bring out results in a short time and help the weak and needy. Gandhiji’s refrain to look at the face of the poorest of the poor and take decisions for his or her betterment is the most relevant today.Instead allowing power and position to those who love to abuse and criticize the Father of the Nation BJP should the sound advice of Mahatmaji to uplift the poor. In short, the party needs a course correction and Modiji should go back to the path of development.
For the Congress, a dynamic leadership change is needed. The party needs to revisit its policies taking into account the changes taking place in various fields. When Dr. Manmohan Singh, as guided by P.V. Narasimha Rao, took to liberalization and reforms he had promised this percolating down of the benefits to the poor within a decade or decade and half. This did not take place. The party lost power as its promises were not fulfilled. It is time for the leadership to work for the needy and provide them at least a need-based living and by so doing regain the trust and support of the people.
Periodical meetings in Delhi to pass resolutions cannot take the party anywhere. Only a young and dynamic leadership can prevent the party from being transported to the dustbin of history.