The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), that stands for the ‘common man party’, convincingly beat the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) to gain a third term in Delhi, India’s capital city.
Led by Arvind Kejriwal, AAP won a massive majority of 62 seats out of 70 in the state elections in Delhi. Indian newspapers had a field day ridiculing the Narendra Modi-led BJP, a fascist party that has deeply divided India.
The AAP’s election symbol was jharhu (broom) was used by many newspapers saying Kejriwal took the broom and swept Delhi clean.
While the BJP increased its seat total from three in 2015 to eight in the February 8 elections, this is far short of what the BJP stalwarts had hoped for so soon after the federal elections of last May when it won a massive majority in parliament.
Resorting to hate-filled rhetoric that had mobilized the BJP base of Hindu fascists, the electorate in Delhi would have none of it.
The BJP had attempted to portray the Delhi elections as a referendum on the ongoing protests, particularly at Shaheen Bagh, which has emerged as the epicentre of protests against the Citizenship Act.
The BJP Home Minister Amit Shah who is also the party president, had told supporters last month: “Press the [vote] button with such anger that the current is felt at Shaheen Bagh.”
“Your vote for the BJP candidate will make Delhi and the country safe and prevent thousands of incidents like Shaheen Bagh,” a constant theme of the BJP invoking fear of the ‘other’ (Muslims) while indulging in naked hatred.
While Delhi’s voters did press the button with great force it shocked the BJP. Its candidate Braham Singh in Okhla constituency lost to AAP’s candidate Amanullah Khan by more than 70,000 votes (Shaheen Bagh is located in the Okhla constituency).
If there is any consolation for the BJP, its vote share increased from 32 percent to 38.51 percent while that of the AAP decreased marginally from its 2015 total to 53.57 percent.
The Congress Party, meanwhile did not win a single seat. Its vote share fell below 5 percent. As many as 63 Congress candidates lost their deposits.
The big question is whether the BJP will learn anything from its electoral debacle in Delhi and abandon its hate-based politics. A party that has played the hate card for decades and risen to prominence as a consequence is not likely to change with one setback.
Instead, the challenge is for those opposed to hatred and divisions to intensify their efforts and consign these hatemongers to the dustbin of history.