Second, the election represents a big dilemma for AAP in terms of its minority constituency. Amanatullah Khan from Okhla (the constituency that includes Shaheen Bagh) is leading now but without much help from AAP which refused to confirm or deny the presence of a minority-led agitation there. Apart from making shocked noises, it did little to mobilise people on the issue of the attack on students in Jamia. AAP might benefit from reaching out overtly and boldly to minorities and treating Muslims as Indians: it will lose a kind of Hindu vote but might redefine majority-minority relations.
The BJP will have to seriously rethink its strategy in Delhi. Home Minister Amit Shah
held nearly 40 election meetings. Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed two. By no means is the election a referendum on the leadership of either: but why does Modi succeed in winning elections
for his party all over India except some notable exceptions including Delhi?
This is the last chance for the Congress
to redeem itself. It has suffered a massive and precipitous vote share and seat erosion in the capital. The party might as well sign off and hand over its support base to the AAP instead of dividing it.
But much more than all this, it is AAP’s future strategy that will need focus. This victory will be a huge temptation for AAP to spread itself thin and aspire to become a national party. That could be a mistake. AAP has claimed its ‘work’ has won the election not smart alecky gimmicks or claims to nationalism. It would do well to remember this. BJP has got a huge injection of vote share. Not only will this enthuse this to become a more vocal opposition, but will also push its workers to work harder. Delhi will become a political battleground in the days and months to come. AAP has done some deft political footwork in the last two years, refusing to rise to baits repeatedly dangled before it. It needs to hone this skill.
AAP needs to set up a thought council. As I the past, it needs to ask people of Delhi what they want and the gaps in delivery. Rations to the homes of citizens is only a small part of it. Although there are several institutional limitations in terms of the restrictions on the government’s powers, AAP has proved it can work around (and despite) them.
Whether they win or lose the heroes of this election are Atishi Marlena and Manish Sisodia.
AAP and the BJP alike need to remember this. Something works in Delhi – and it is not the BJP’s version of ‘Rashtravad’ (nationalism).
In terms of its impact on national politics, the assembly election outcome will have limited effect. But in terms of popular politics and memory, the election will go down in history as a David and Goliath battle. BJP would do well to remember that the little man in Delhi is not a traitor just because he hasn’t voted for BJP.