AAP may be in a tailspin, but BJP has failed to enthuse Delhi

You don’t really need me to tell you that AAP is in tailspin mode. Yes, we should never write anyone off in politics, let alone a shrewd fox like Kejriwal. But AAP is in a crisis and this may just be the time they don’t survive it.

But here is a little warning that I have been wanting to write about ever since the MCD results came out. But I kept postponing this. Today, it seems the time has finally come.

I was quite ecstatic when the exit polls came out after polling was over for the MCD. I think most of the big names were giving the BJP over 50% of the vote, or at least really close to 50%.

But no. This did not happen. The BJP still won an overwhelming victory, but the devil is in the vote shares :

BJP : 36%

AAP : 26%

Congress : 21%

Frankly, I find this distribution of votes to be quite shocking. Delhi is not a large rural state, where vote shifts are impeded by natural barriers of caste and local loyalties. It is highly urbanized and “made in media” and votes shift rapidly.

It is clear that there was massive anger against AAP. It’s votes sank from 54% in the Assembly to 26% in the MCD. From this thick slice of 28% disillusioned AAP voters, a mere 3% decided to shift their votes to BJP. Simply shocking.

The way I look at this is that the order of preference among disillusioned AAP voters was roughly as follows:

(1) Congress

(2) Others

(3) BJP

Once again, the BJP has failed to enthuse the voters of Delhi.

This goes back to my theory that BJP is failing to understand some kind of underlying change in the nature of Delhi.

In 2013, the voters of Delhi didn’t give BJP a clear majority despite massive anger against the Congress party. Instead, large chunks of Delhi decided to go with a rank outsider in AAP.

In 2015, the voters of Delhi were the first to rebel against the Modi wave. And how? 67/70! AAP’s vote share: a staggering 54%!

When victory has come to BJP in Delhi, it has mostly been half hearted. Yes, the BJP won all 7 Lok Sabha seats in Delhi. But the vote share was 47%. This is much less compared to the 57% that the Congress polled in Delhi in Lok Sabha 2009!

At a time in 2014 when BJP won everywhere with record margins, it could not even come close to the Congress’ 2009 record in Delhi. Strange as it may seem, the “Manmohan wave” was much stronger than the Modi wave when it came to Delhi.

In short, Delhi seems very enthusiastic and generous towards non-BJP parties. When it is BJP’s turn to win, the Delhi public is lukewarm at best. They shower Kejriwal and Manmohan with 54% and 57% vote. Modi gets a much colder reception at 47% and at the local level, Delhi gives BJP a stingy 36%.

This means that BJP’s current lead in Delhi could easily vanish by 2019. If AAP implodes, its votes will return to Congress. If the AAP doesn’t implode completely, it could ally with the Congress, which will again be enough to defeat BJP.

It is hard to say why the BJP has gone so far out of touch with Delhi. The electorate of Delhi is giving off a certain sense of hostility towards BJP. I don’t know why.

This is particularly puzzling since BJP is almost invincible in urban India right now. No such hostility towards BJP appears to exist in other metros like Mumbai and Bengaluru. Places like Kolkata are actually warming up to BJP.

Now my pet theory is that Delhi is different from these other urban centers because it is not part of a big state. Mumbai, for example, is just as urban as Delhi. But it’s still a part of Maharashtra and embedded into the larger character of the state. Ditto with Bengaluru or Hyderabad. But Delhi is on its own, sort of empty. Sort of soulless and rootless (Yes, I don’t like Delhi.. and you can feel my prejudice).

Perhaps if Delhi had been part of Punjab or Haryana or Uttar Pradesh, it would have been different. It would have been a rooted city.

So Delhi it seems to me fits more with an international megapolis like Paris or New York or Los Angeles or Sydney. And what we know about these cities is that they are crawling with liberals, with little to no space left for right wingers. Is that why Delhi has gone so far from the right wing? I don’t know but that’s my theory.


10 thoughts on “AAP may be in a tailspin, but BJP has failed to enthuse Delhi

  1. I think keeping Delhi under President’s rule between February 2014 and February 2015 was BJP’s greatest mistake. After taking over the center in May 2014, they could have easily declared assembly elections in Delhi by July. This did not go down well with people as a lot of development work remained in pending status. It also gave AAP good enough time to bounce up.


  2. The simple reason that BJP was never strong in Delhi is because the Delhi BJP unit was always ineffecient and almost non-existent.

    You may have a point about hyper-urbanisation and liberalism,but imo that is hardult the root cause of BJP’s performance in Delhi.

    In 2014,NaMo had hardly the political capital that he has today.Now you may think otherwise but i think him getting 47% votes in a state where BJP was almost absent was in itself an achievement.

    Most people in Delhi are fence voters instead of being loyal votes,that much should be obvious to anyone.But like any other place,local leadership matters.

    And 36% VS is high,but you are completely ignoring the fact that BJP was suffering 10 long years of anti-incumbency. BJP had control of all the municipalities and it’s performance was less than mediocre.

    The fact that BJP was able to retain it’s VS from 2012 was itself a monumental achievement.Now they need to deliever and actually do good work in Delhi.

    Delhi doesn’t give free lunch unlike other parties.People are also more appreciative about different issues and vote based on those rather than a party-centred mindset


  3. I think BJP has the credibility crisis in Delhi just like congress has all over India. Their leadership is widely seen as very corrupt. Modi is able to counter that to some level. But how far he can go alone. His clean image is helping in states which have better state leaderships.


  4. In my opinion, it is Stockholm syndrome of thousand years directly impacted city and capital than any other. All the other directly impacted cities have lost their character and converted in subcontinent. If the capical would have been part of Madhya Pradesh or UP, it would have been more dynamic. Kejriwal & Lutayan Burqua Dutts types water boys and water girls are produced, promoted and sustained only in Delhi, even for short time.


  5. Delhi being a national capital its character is political by nature. There is a large circus of ‘hangers on’ in Delhi who have no particular occupation but live lavish lifestyles based solely on their connections to politicians who in turn have their own set of ‘hangers on’ and so on till the chain reaches the last level. This class owes its survival to the Congress other so called secular parties who have been in power in Central Govt. in Delhi for a long time. Besides these ‘hangers on’ types there is a large percentage of population who consider themselves ‘intellectuals’ by who are used to hopping from TV studio to TV studio who live on the largesee of their political masters who happen to be ‘Pseudo Secular’ combos. These hangers on brigade and these sponsored brigades will vote for their political masters as their survival depends on them and so the vote percentage of Congress in Delhi will have a good base. BJP was also a powerful force in Delhi but have squandered their power base by becoming complacent and ego clashes in the Delhi party offices. As a result despite controlling DMC and Govt they did not deliver as expected and this resulted in dilution of their support base. BJP can build on this gain in MCD to become an effective force when elections of UT Delhi are announced by showing on the ground work which demonstrates and differentiates BJP as a party that delivers on promises. The vote margins by which elections are lost or won are not huge in Delhi.


  6. NDTV is surviving because of Delhi viewers. I don’t know how much Municipality administration depends on Delhi government, but most of the time MCD under the control of BJP remained under hostile Delhi governments, Congress and AAP. Very surprising thing for me is, even though Delhi Congress members massacred Sikhs in 1984, still the Sikh community of Delhi prefers Congress over BJP. And fairly large Muslim population of Delhi is against BJP.


  7. Lets concentrate on last part of your blog and bring it down to basics in case of delhiites. Being a delhiite, thats how i think it works in delhi. We are essentially an immigrant UT and hence, no particular character. This is political lutyen hub, which is crawling with liberals who influence youths and poor new immigrants. For us, pride comes from ” oh we are so adjusting accept all and have big hearts.” Not sure what that means because we dont care much about next door neighbour just like in nyc. I will call delhi a political influencers for all anti- bjp parties, who control left leaning media. Except Krishnas indraprastha epoch, there is no such time which I can think of our history when delhi contributed in uniting bharat or gave feeling of sense of akhand bharat. Today, its controlled by left leaning commies like in kerala and bengal , and at the same time support RWers. This brings to the simple point. Division of votes
    1) BJP supporter- dont change votes about 30%
    2) Fence sitter- essentially dont like bjp. Looking for options other than bjp. If not found, they will not vote. In their moment of truth 5-10percent might vote for bjp. They are about 30%. All moved to AAP when kejri won.
    3) Congress supporter- Followers of andha kanoon. Will not waiver from uncondirional support of gandhis. They draw their money stregnth from them and are as corrupt. About 30%
    4) others- 10% – given false voter ids etc for political gains. Will favor anti- bjp forces.

    So bjp will always have uphill task in delhi. Delhi is not a good way to look at how bjp is doing. But you cant take it out of political discussion in India becuase its political hub, both president and PM sit here. 90% media is here, which also makes it feel like delhi is very important for any lok sabha win. Bjp can relax and focus on good work in entire India. We delhiites will soon realize we have to catch up.


    1. Absolutely spot on. BJP is still stuck a little above 30%. All the fence sitters in Delhi seem to be very hostile to BJP. They treat BJP as the absolute last option. Unless the party can change that, things will continue to be bleak.


  8. There are 3 reasons:
    1. The more permanent classes of Delhi (likely registered voters) consist of govt servants, govt fixers, pseudo intellectuals and students, feudals from across north India, and slum residents dependent on their local politicians for regularisation, power etc. All of these are generally hostile to BJP. Case in point – Washington DC votes 90% Democrat. This is different from other urban centres where the permanent classess are working classes.
    2. No state level quality leader like in other states.
    3. Unlike other states, police (being capital police force) seems to have been good at preventing a psychological fear in minds of ordinary Hindus – unlike say UP, Assam, Maharashtra – so perhaps less polarization


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