ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Local and the Universal in the Delhi Elections

Ambiguity in politics is a necessary, but not sufficient condition for creating a morally healthy society.


The victory of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in the recently held Delhi assembly elections seems to have evoked differential responses from commentators who have chosen to evaluate such a victory on the spectrum of criticism. For example, those who consider themselves “radically secular” have expressed rather strong reservations, which could be seen by the former as “politically discomforting.” These reservations relate to AAP’s position on certain important issues that have a bearing on secularism. Such critiques particularly point at AAP’s failure to take an unambiguous stand in favour of the Shaheen Bagh protestors. Some of these commentators, thus, suggest the need, for a more categorical and clear politics as the only mode that has to be followed by political parties.

As a corollary to this viewpoint, some of the critiques have expressed a lurking fear in AAP’s strategy to remain less vocal on the secular issue or keeping the religious issue out of the electoral campaign. The scepticism of the radical secularists weighs on the fear that AaP, in its attempts to deflate the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by using the same language, however, is not doing so without risk. The AAP leaders did plan to undercut the political significance of such language that has been used by AAP’s opponent. AAP might ultimately end up perfecting the same language, to the extent that it might become the victim of its own strategy. Some secularists tend to interpret this as AAP’s turn towards soft Hindutva. AAP’s strategy to use Hindu symbols in its campaign has to be understood in the context of the anxiety that seems to have gripped its leaders. It thought, perhaps for the right reason, that a section of the Indian electorate is still susceptible to the election campaign that sought to polarise the voters on communal lines. This anxiety found its support in the recent Delhi assembly elections where the percentage of votes to the BJP saw some increase. But, a large section of the electorate has supported AAP in terms of the large number of seats the party has won. However, it is interesting to note that AAP’s victory has had its fallout as well. The BJP’s main party leaders were forced to admit, just for a change, that the party made the mistake of using highly provocative language, such as calling AAP leaders terrorists or using the explosive expression of “goli maro” (shoot the opponents). On the other hand, the restrained campaign of AAP turned out to be electorally beneficial to it. The strategic campaign of AAP and its resultant success gave the BJP the realisation that using explosive language can turn out to be counterproductive. Does it mean that the BJP would be careful hereafter? At the moment, no one but the BJP can answer this question in its future modes of electoral politics.

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Updated On : 24th Feb, 2020
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