AAP has won 67 of Delhi’s 70 assembly seats, with Mr Modi’s BJP taking three.
Readers new to the subject are reminded that Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the two-year old AAP, resigned from his position of Delhi’s chief minister, at the head of a minority government in 2014, after a turbulent 49-day stint. He had argued there was no point trying to run a minority government lacking the numbers in the state legislature needed to push ahead with reforms, such as creation of a special agency to investigate official corruption.
Nearly 67% of Delhi’s residents voted on Saturday, in an unprecedentedly high poll turnout, to give Mr Kejriwal a second chance. He hailed the outcome, tweeting: U r so amazing. U rejected politics of caste n religion”.
Amy Kazmin (FT) reports two reactions from Delhi analysts:
- that the exit polls reflected the appeal of the AAP’s promise of clean politics, and its expected tough stand on the official corruption that blights the daily lives of millions of Indians in encounters with any aspect of the state, from police to government clerks;
- and that this is an early warning sign of eroding popular enthusiasm for Mr Modi, whose administration has seen the rise of communal polarisation by rightwing Hindu groups.
She adds: “With its strong corporate backing, the BJP spent heavily and visibly in a bid to defeat its rival, taking large and even full-page ads on the front pages of nearly all the capital’s newspapers in the run up to the vote . . . The AAP, which relies mostly on individual donations and had limited financial resources, relied by contrast on enthusiastic campaigning by Mr Kejriwal and grassroots volunteers”.
A lightning rod for dissent
The FT’s latest sees the prospect of Mr Kejriwal emerging as a lightning rod for dissent, over policies seen as favouring big business at the expense of ordinary people. The AAP has already criticised the BJP’s government’s recent land acquisition ordinance, which seeks to make it easier for businesses to acquire farmland for infrastructure and industry.
A Herculean task
Arvind Kejriwal admits that the task of governing India’s capital city, with its shortages of housing, water, power and lack of security — and where the national government controls important agencies, including the city police is daunting, but celebrates:
“The people of Delhi have done something amazing. It’s a victory for honesty and truth”.
In several European countries people are embarking on the same quest.