Dynasty rule is ingrained deeply in Indian politics, notable examples being the Gandhi dynasty, and Mulayam Yadav and his successors. Traditional election manifestos have focussed on vote-bank politics, where Congress indulges in minority appeasement and incentives for the underprivileged, BSP panders to the Dalits, SP caters to the Muslims and Yadavs, and BJP targets the middle and upper class Hindus. Such strategies are more the norm rather than the exception, which is why Aam Aadmi Party’s revolutionary style of pro-people and community driven politics is such a breath of fresh air.
Ranging from their crowd-sourced mechanism of formulating election manifestos, to their election campaigns being entirely funded by Indian citizens with online records, and refusal to grant tickets to candidates facing criminal charges, their strategies and the corresponding success have proved, albeit partially, that an unconventional and all-inclusive campaign can definitely succeed. Their sweeping effect is reiterated by the top brass of Congress and BJP also accepting and commending AAP’s success, though through back handed compliments. However, this is where AAP needs to not die down as another JP movement and make sure they carry and build on the momentum from here on.
However, it is important to view the elections not only through their result but their preceding events. How Congress continued sticking to its archaic manifestos of growth and incentives, while the BJP sensed the growing mistrust among the people and for the first time started changing their strategies. Though they still copied the issues raised by AAP, they added their own flavour to them and added their trump card to the mix, aka Narendra Modi. Coupled with the Modi wave, the anti-incumbency factor, and an extension of AAP’s issues, they were able to beat the Congress for the first time after fifteen years in Delhi. Though the Delhi elections can be considered as a one-off incident, the post-poll surveys show that people are still adamant about bringing AAP into power, which is further highlighted by the fact that AAP’s total vote share exceeded BJP’s share, though they won a lesser number of the seats.
The change in the voter patterns can only signify that a positive change, though nascent, is fledging at least in Delhi. Although Delhi was never known to vote based on caste and religion, the same antiquated manifestos were repeated in each election, and seemed to be effective. This has been turned on its head in the 2013 elections, and could reflect the voter transformation. Although an oft-repeated caveat is the JP movement, the AAP movement is not to overthrow a party but to bring about a systemic and comprehensive change in the political ecosystem. This indicates that the movement has a longer shelf-life, though its longevity will depend on AAP’s election results in the upcoming Haryana and Lok Sabha elections. Though inconclusive, Delhi elections have shown that a well-planned pro-people movement can bring about a political upheaval and only time will tell if this fizzles out or indeed revamps the Indian political system.