In spite of a full fledged campaign based on hate politics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janatha Party (BJP) failed to win the coveted Delhi state elections. Aam Aadmi Party (Common Peopl’s party) or AAP led by incumbent Chief Minister Aravind Kejriwal won 63 out of 70 seats. BJP managed to get seven seats while Congress drew a blank.

While BJP campaign was based on hate politics even calling the election an India-Pakistan match, it failed to win the heart of the people. One BJP leader exhorted his followers to shoot the Shaheen Bagh protesters. AAP on the other hand campaigned based on good governance. It fore fronted its successful work on community health, education, free electricity and water for the poor etc.

Even though the Delhi election result is a huge relief in the hate filled politics of India, the AAP did not win the election in the age old values of secularism or communal harmony. The party kept quiet on the unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which Arundhati Roy termed ‘resembling Nazi Nuremberg Citizenship Laws’. The party kept quiet on all major controversial decisions taken by the BJP government at the centre including the revocation of article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the Ayodhya verdict, attack on students of Jamia Millia Islamia and JNU. Kept quiet on the women’s protest against CAA in Shaheen Bagh.  AAP was obviously playing a centre-right politics acting as a B team to BJP.

He made his centre-right position clear in his victory speech by dedicating the victory for “Bharat Mata” (mother India). Kejriwal’s credits also included Lord Hanuman. “Today is Tuesday, the day of Hanuman-ji. Hanuman-ji has showered Delhi with blessings. Thank you, Hanuman-ji,” said the Delhi Chief Minister, whose recitation of Hanuman Chalisa during the poll campaign caused a flutter and provoked BJP allegations that he was resorting to Hindutva to win.

There were also slogans of “Bharat Mata ki Jai (Hail mother India)”, not commonly heard in AAP gatherings.

The former taxman-turned-activist-turned politician will become Chief Minister for the third straight time.

Even though it is a victory against fascist BJP it cannot be called a victory of the secular values of the country. Delhi could be a template for future elections in India. In a nut shell, secular India stands defeated.

The essence of the AAP’s Delhi election victory is that the concerns of the minorities are subsumed under the majoritarian religious politics. Minorities are taken for granted as the vote bank of the lesser evil. It’s happening all across India, except Kerala where there is a significant number of minorities, who are vocal and well represented. Is this the polity that makers of the constitution envisaged? Can we call it secularism? If Delhi becomes the template for elections in India it is the end of secular India most of us grew up with. Minorities are not vote banks for majoritarian politicians. They are flesh and blood people with hopes and aspirations whose voices to be heard and responded to. Sadly that’s not happening. That’s present India’s tragedy. BJP may continue to lose state elections because of the local political atmosphere. For a national alternative to emerge, we need a politics that takes Hindutva agenda heads on, which is inclusive and carries the minorities, dalit, bahujans, adivasis along with it. All else is a band aid on a bullet wound.

Binu Mathew is the editor of Countercurrents.org


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14 Comments

  1. Good observation!

  2. Good one! Putting things into perspective amidst the euphoria is something that was badly needed on this hour

  3. Too harsh a judgment. To fight a forest fire and to stop it from spreading you have to light a fire on its periphary. It’s called a fireline. When the fire reaches the fire line there’s nothing left there to burn: the fire is contained and dies out. It’s called ‘ fighting fire with fire.’ Desperate situations call for desperate solutions. Mere theorising does not help.

    • Very nice comment, Shuklaji.
      You can’t expect a person who is fighting a major battle against
      the ruling duo to comment on everything. No need for AAP to have opinions on all issues including Trump’s tantrums to Bolsanaro’s bluster.

  4. Sorry to agree. From 3 – 7 is a big gain. It shows that hatred is here to stay. That communalization is effective. It shows that institutions like the Election Commission, Supreme Court, President of India, all remained silent when they should have taken action. It shows that the police force and other state organizations have been reduced to being agents of those in power. It shows that this is a new India altogether.

  5. Hindu right has come to stay . No left is felt anywhere.
    Extreme right has lost . That’s a sort of gain.

    Delhi is probably a pointer . Left right dispensations will vanish . Politics of affiliation to outdated philosophies will also go . That includes communism socialism capitalism too .

    Good and will start re asserting . As far governsince is concerned . Pretty good from the view point of a non committed citizen of this country .

  6. Corrections: good and bad …. governance…

  7. Avatar Jagadish G Chandra says:

    Dear Binu (Counter Currents) I commented elsewhere on face-book just now, AAP primarily built around the personality of AK, and his understanding of Social Democracy, which is to the right of centre as you have commented.
    While we should welcome the crushing defeat of the BJP in the state of Delhi, based on the social democratic focus of AAP on Education and Health and certain tangible measures to help working women, there are many skeletons in the closet of AK, that may surprise many of us. Particularly his inconvenient silence on the issue of Positive Discrimination aka Reservations.
    Apart from that, AK has been silent on many things, we all know how how he axed Prashant Bhushan from AAP after his take on Kashmir’s Right to Self-Determination. We should be aware of the fact that the creation of AAP was a product of IAC, backed by the secret machinations of Nagpur Think Tank. Of course, AK has been an enigma for Sangh and BJP right from the days of anti-corruption movement led by the maverick Anna Hazare’s team. RSS’s calculations went awry as all the puppets did not dance to their tune and rhythm, they wanted all the participants to go home and wait for the call again, but every movement develops its own dynamics which may not necessarily be in line with its puppeteers, while Kabir Bedi, fraud Yogi Ramdev fell in line, many like AK strayed out.
    But one has to recognise the fact that all of them had a particular disdain for left narrative of Social Democracy on social justice, particularly on the issue of reservations. But AK’s standpoint has been very clear on the issue, and he has articulated in the past and certainly bats for “merit”. In fact, I have met quite a few of AAP supporters who got estranged with AK on the issue of reservations, saying that he is not pursuing his line of “merit” more vigorously.
    I would take this defeat of BJP with a lot more salt, than just a pinch. Their time tested, sinister modus operandi, in victory and defeat they are silently and surely polarising and consolidating the right-wing forces, that is the worrying factor against which we must build strategies to counter their advancement. As I commented to one of your posts, after a long time struggle against CAA-NRC-NPR, gives us an opportunity to build an independent political alternative with grass roots participation, which could articulate genuine secularism with an unapologetic genuinely Socialist programme. -Jagadish

  8. Absolutely disagree. The author is making the fallacy of equating Hinduism with Hindutva. AK is just trying to reclaim Hinduism back from the fanatics (while delivering on Govt services in the most secular manner possible) and that is to be applauded.

  9. The essence of the AAP’s Delhi election victory is that the concerns of the minorities are subsumed under the majoritarian religious politics. Minorities are taken for granted as the vote bank of the lesser evil. It’s happening all across India, except Kerala where there is a significant number of minorities, who are vocal and well represented. Is this the polity that makers of the constitution envisaged? Can we call it secularism? If Delhi becomes the template for elections in India it is the end of secular India most of us grew up with. Minorities are not vote banks for majoritarian politicians. They are flush and blood people whose voices to be heard and responded to. Sadly that’s not happening. That’s present India’s tragedy. BJP may continue to lose state elections because of the local political atmosphere. For a national alternative to emerge, we need a politics that takes Hindutva agenda heads on, which is inclusive and carries the minorities, dalit, bahujans, adivasis along with it. All else is a band aid on a bullet wound.

  10. Dear Binu, the AAP victory is a temporary relief for us. But in the long term, it has uncertain and fluctuating implications. As you have rightly pointed out, AAP is a centre-right party leaning towards soft-Hindutva (unlike the centre-left Congress of the Nehruvian days). By concentrating only on local municipal concerns and successfully delivering welfare services in these areas, Kejriwal has won the assembly elections. But he has skirted the controversial national issues like CAA, NPR, NRC, revocation of Article 370, thus keeping his doors open for future compromises with the Modi-led Centre. Will he remain satisfied by being a regional populist leader ? Or will he – ambitious as he is – dare to emerge as a national prime ministerial face to challenge Modi in the next Lok Sabha election ? For that during the next four years, he’ll have to be more outspoken in opposing Modi’s national agenda.

  11. Avatar Meenakshi Gandotra says:

    What you are wiriting seems to be in isolation. Secularism does not stand defeated.

    Why because :

    First: secularism doesn’t mean shouting your religious identities everywhere. It means being able to follow ones religious identity and not stop others from following it. What AK did was not a big deal. He hasn’t stopped anyone he simply replied to the journalist from where this came in.

    Secondly and most important!
    People by voting AAP have shown that they no more want to hear the Right, Left and center slogans on religion. We want to focus on development. So bring us Politics of and for Development. Don’t divert to religion coz India stands for unity in diversity.

    Lastly, your article also gives the sense that you are seeing things in isolation. You need to see that duality of Delhi’s governance structure. It central cen state where raids are in hands of center so there was a huge risk of AAP being framed as Anti National or even taken police action. Hence, it was wise to not go against the protest or say yes to what center was saying but working with the task in hand if winning.

  12. Avatar Manisha Banerjee says:

    Just what I was thinking.