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Decoding Delhi results: How Arvind Kejriwal defeated Narendra Modi at his own game

NEW DELHI,Arghya Roy Chowdhury: The results are out and it’s clear that Delhi has spoken emphatically. The party which was humiliated in the last LokSabha election has made a stellar comeback winning close to 60 seats in the Assembly Election. The result is in direct contrast to the prevailing trend across the country where BJP has had a virtual free run in last one year. So, the obvious question is what worked for AAP that turned the dice in their favour:

The Strategic approach:

By fine tuning their strategy AAP decided to concentrate only on reconquering their citadel of Delhi. In the process they let go of contesting elections in states like Haryana and Maharashtra, where AAP had some footprints. The strategy ensured that AAP leaders and workers had their ears close to the ground, which was necessary to defeat a cadre-based party like BJP.

The social media coup:

BJP has always been strong on social media. Call it Internet Hindu phenomenon or nationalist users, they managed to create a positive vibe for the party during the Lok Sabha Elections. AAP changed this strategy at their head by countering all charges and being up front about their flaws. As Marshall Mcluhan said, Medium is the message. AAP managed to take to social media the message that the party is willing to engage voters and eager for a second chance when things were looking particularly bleak for them.

Massive connect with the underclass

This is a corollary of the close connect AAP established with the masses. In their 49 days, AAP promised a lot and was marginally successfully in solving the problems of power and water. From February, the situation has only gone worse in those fronts and AAP’s more than gratitous promise of freebies has certainly struck a chord with the poor. Also AAP played up the issue of e-rickshaw and legalisation of colonies to the hilt.BJP was caught napping in these issues and the ordinances came much later.

The middle class forgave AAP

A point widely made, many politicians commit gaffe but hardly anyone apologises. Kejriwal profusely said sorry for quitting the government in 49 days. For many young middle class voters AAP became synonymous to a start-up which suffered a hitch in the beginning but deserved another chance.

Insipid leadership of Delhi BJP leaders

It’s not for anything that BJP has been away from power in Delhi for such a long time. The old guards have faded away, and the new guard haven’t been able to provide much cogent leadership. Hence BJP was forced to rope in Kiran Bedi, a strategy which backfired magnificently. Not only it was a bummer for the party leaders like Satish Upadhyay, it also gave a negative vibe to the party cadres who felt that the leadership has imported someone from outside to fight its own battle. AAP on the other hand had massive surge due to Kejriwal’s inspired leadership.

Polarisation favoured AAP

This may sound counter-intuitive but as the margins and figures suggested by Chanakya, AAP actually gained from polarisation. Many Christians who voted for BJP in the Lok Sabha election decided to switch loyality to AAP. The Church burning and riots in Trilokpuri, sort of created negative perception about BJP in Delhi.

Modi for PM, Kejriwal for CM

This was something told by AAP voters long ago. They backed Modi to give stability in the centre but Kejriwal was the preferred choice in Delhi. This was something BJP was always wary of, but had no counter to. Kiran Bedi turned out to be a bad choice for CM candidate who gave no leverage to the saffron party.

Kejriwal won perception war

‘Mufflerman’ Kejriwal became the quintessential middle class hero while ‘Pradhansevak’ Modi strutted around in a very expensive ‘name suit’. Politics is very often a matter of perception more than reality, and Kejriwal has won the battle hands down this time around.

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