The Aam Aadmi Party’s sweep in the 2020 Delhi Assembly Elections did not surprise a lot of observers. The party has perfected the art of buying the electorate with freebies and gibs. Despite its obvious failures in meeting its manifesto promises and covertly as well as overtly backing Islamists/left radicals, the party was able to almost repeat its stellar 2015 performance, going down only 5 seats from 67 to 62.
BJP, on the other hand, has remained confined to a tally in the single digits- towards the lower end of the predictions of most exit polls. Considering the fact that the party, by the admission of its own propagandists, put its heart and soul into the Delhi campaign, it becomes pertinent to ask why it was unable to defeat AAP, or at the very least reach a more respectable tally.
The answer to this question is something which has been repeated time and again after BJP’s previous routs in state elections: stop using a national narrative to try and win local elections. Building on that assertion, the party sealed its own fate in Delhi as soon as it decided that it would put its Hindutva face first before Delhi’s voters.
Although the policy wonks of the saffron war machine came out with an incredibly detailed manifesto, the party decided to instead focus on Shaheen Bagh/JNU/Tukda-Tukde Gang in a bid to polarise the electorate. Not that their manifesto had a great deal on offer for the lower classes of Delhi as well relative to AAP’s all-out freebies, but BJP did not even seem to care to make its position clear on a host of critical local issues.
While AAP succeeded in cornering a vast majority of the Muslim vote, BJP failed spectacularly to convince working class Delhiites that it gave a toss about the problems of their daily livelihood. Hindutva/nationalist rhetoric by itself was never going to work in what is undoubtedly North India’s most cosmopolitan city. But count on the BJP to again make the same mistakes five years down the line in the capital, but only chipping away at Kejriwal’s base due to overdue anti-incumbency.