AAP’s thumping win
With counting still underway as we write this, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is set to return to power in New Delhi with a thumping majority. As of this writing it is leading in over 60 of the 70 seats, with BJP trailing far behind. The Indian National Congress is nowhere to be seen. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal is all set to return as Delhi’s chief minister for the third consecutive term. Kejriwal’s party highlighted the government’s achievements in reducing electricity bills, improving clinics and government schools. The people of Delhi chose AAP to lead them for the next five years. The BJP chose to highlight controversial citizenship bill (CAA-NRC) and ending of Triple Talaq as its major achievements. But their effort to nationalize the local elections did not impress the people of Delhi. Rather, AAP’s efforts to localize the electoral fight yielded impressive results in their favor. Established in 2012, AAP won 28 seats in the 2013 Delhi Legislative Assembly election and then went on to secure 67 of the 70 seats in the 2015 elections. The party hasn’t seen massive successes in the general elections, but has been consistently winning hearts and minds of the people of Delhi.
Nepali politicians across the political spectrum have a few things to learn from them. First, ground game matters. From the very beginning, APP mobilized thousands of volunteers across Delhi to make people understand what they stood for and how that contradicts the status quo. And then the party focused on the everyday woes of the people: horrible hospitals, badly performing schools and huge electricity and water bills. A huge section of the population saw AAP as new hope and decided to give them a chance. Second, despite few initial hiccups, Kejriwal’s party delivered. They invested massively in the state’s education and health. Their public schools are performing well. Compared to some of Delhi’s elite private schools, public schools are outperforming in many indicators. Government hospitals have seen massive improvements. Similarly, water and electricity bills have gone down. APP’s style of governance worked and people re-elected them.
Winning people’s heart is a matter of time, dedication and honesty. Once in power, the party swiftly moved to fulfill its promises made during the election campaign. Despite relentless obstruction from the federal government, the semi-autonomous state was able to deliver. And that is what matters to the voters. People want to see the results, and APP understood that well in New Delhi. New parties like Bibeksheel Nepali, Sajha and others have plenty of opportunities to work on people’s behalf. They should stand united with people in securing the fundamental rights of the people, for press freedom, and make noise opposing corruption and other bad doings of the government. It is a work in progress. One campaign or a rally is not enough. They must be ready for the long haul. There is still hope, and APP has shown the right way to make things happen.