On Tuesday, in what might be the most amazing comeback in India’s political history, Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party swept the elections in Delhi. It marks the first time the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not had the majority of seats in the city’s government in 15 years. The Aam Aadmi Party took 67 out of 70 seats in Delhi’s assembly.
Although Delhi only represents a small fraction of the 4,120 assembly seats in India, the Aam Aadmi Party’s small victory is having huge implications throughout the country. The 27-month-old party is the youngest political party in India and its victory has given it and other small parties a chance to move into prominence in the government. Opposition parties have been mocking Prime Minister Narendra Modi for the stunning defeat of his BJP in Delhi. In reference to a joke made often by the BJP about another political faction, a political analyst said that now the BJP members of the Delhi Assembly could be transported “in an auto-rickshaw.”
Of the three seats that the BJP retained in the election, two were hotly contested. They won their seats by a margin of just 5-6,000 votes compared to an Aam Aadmi Party candidate who won by 95,000 votes.
The Aam Aadmi’s sweep of the elections in Delhi is a relief to party members, who have been working hard throughout the campaign process to spread their party’s message and popularity. A number of party members who have been working for months for what seemed would provide very little reward burst into tears as they and their constituents celebrated.
Prime Minister Modi offered his congratulations to Kejriwal. He has led an aggressive campaign against them, calling Kejriwal a “Naxalite,” or Maoist. Supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party are calling the results “a victory for truth and honesty.”
Many agree that the policies of the country need to change. This incredible victory has been called a “big defeat for the arrogant and those spreading hate.” People have become increasingly displeased with the BJP’s policies of promoting Hinduism over other religions, as well as the government’s lack of action on issues of corruption.
Kejriwal will be inaugurated on Saturday, and already, his party is making plans for the future. Party representatives are already making preparations for the next Assembly elections in 2017. The Aam Aadmi Party hopes to provide a viable alternative to the BJP, its corrupt policies, and big business ties. Kejriwal wants to provide services and support to the common man in India, who he sees as deprived of services and government support.
While the Aam Aadmi Party’s sweep of the Delhi elections may provide leverage for some small parties to gain ground in the government, it has marginalized others. Many other left-wing parties are pleased with the outcome of the election, however, some of them, including the Communist Party of India, have begun to receive notices from the Election Commission that they may no longer be eligible for recognition as national political parties. In India, political outfits are only recognized as national political parties if they win 2 percent of seats in at least three states. Whether the Aam Aadmi party remains on the political scene in India remains to be seen, but it’s landslide victory has already made a difference in the way Indians are thinking about their government.
By Kirstin Pinto