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:
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.