The Aam Aadmi Party on Tuesday scripted an extraordinary win with Arvind Kejriwal returning as the Chief Minister of Delhi. With a landslide victory, the Aam Aadmi Party left its main rival BJP way behind and decimating the Congress in a bitterly-fought contest. Addressing his party workers and supporters outside the AAP headquarters on Tuesday, Kejriwal said the people of Delhi have sent out a clear message that their vote is for those who build schools, hospitals, mohalla clinics and provide cheap electricity for round-the-clock, water to every household, and build roads.
"It is the beginning of new kind of politics today. This is very auspicious message for the country and the politics of work can only take our country to the 21st century," Kejriwal, flanked by his wife, daughter and senior party leaders, said from the stage erected at the party's headquarters.
The AAP's stupendous victory comes nearly eight months after it suffered a severe drubbing in the Lok Sabha polls in which the party drew a blank while the BJP won all the seven seats. Among the AAP heavyweights who won the elections after a nail-bitter included Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Raghav Chaddha and Atishi. Delhi cabinet ministers Gopal Rai, Satyender Jain also were among prominent winners.
Let's have a look at the reasons that led Kejriwal to a massive win.
Free water and electricity
The Aam Aadmi Party provided subsidised electricity to Delhiites and this came as a boon for the locals. During a press conference on August 1 last year, the Delhi chief minister had announced 100 per cent subsidy to those who consume up to 200 units of electricity. Consumers of 201-400 units of electricity started receiving approximately 50 per cent subsidy. Not just electricity, Kejriwal also provided free water supply, up to 20,000 litres per household per month. In December 2017, the Delhi Jal Board had hiked water charges for families consuming more than 20,000 liters of water per month. These families pay Rs 28 per litre extra every month or 85 paise per day. However, for families consuming 20,000 litres, water was kept free of cost.
Free DTC bus ride
Kejriwal led-Aam Aadmi Party announced free rides in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses from October 29, last year. Though the announcement saw harsh criticism by other political parties and even some locals, it benefitted the woman passengers as a whole. Now, bus conductors distribute Rs 10 pink tickets to each woman passenger, which allows them to travel for free.
Control on school fee
This may be one of the most important reasons contributing to AAP's poll victory. Arvind Kejriwal has made some fruitful decisions in the direction of education which directly impacted families of the national capital. In a major public-friendly decision, the AAP government did not allow the 200-odd private unaided schools to arbitrarily hike fees in the last five years. The schools even moved the Delhi high court against the government’s decision. The single judge quashed the government’s circular in March last year. The government challenged the order. In a major relief to the parents, the division bench put a stay on the interim fee hike. Not just this, while campaigning for the Delhi elections, Kejriwal also said his government would not let schools hike fee anymore.
Development of government schools
This has to be believed - the Aam Aadmi Party has worked diligently to bring in positive changes to government schools in Delhi. The work included every detail from infrastructure to teachers’ training to paying more attention to interaction with parents. Delhi's government schools had outperformed private schools in the CBSE 12 standard examinations, Manish Sisodia had claimed. In its manifesto, AAP claims to have added 20,000 new classrooms in over 200 government schools in Delhi. All previous governments in the national capital had managed to build 17,000 classrooms in all these years. An important aspect of the education reforms is the strict implementation of PTM (parents-teacher meeting). Earlier, PTM was only on paper. However, the Kejriwal government implemented it in 2016, giving a sense of pride and satisfaction to the parents who for the first time started getting feedback on their children’s development from teachers.
More Mohalla clinics
Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP had assured Delhi to bring in a network of 1,000 mohalla clinics under the neighbourhood health facility scheme. Though the party could open just 300 of such clinics, it proved beneficial and offered cheap and quality health facilities to the people. The clinics offer free basic medical care services for common illnesses like fever, diarrhea, skin problems, respiratory problems, first aid for injuries and burns, dressing of minor wounds and referral services. While dispensing free medicines and check-ups, it also allows 212 tests by the empanelled laboratories. The Mohalla Clinic project was even hailed by former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and former WHO director-general Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland.
The Aam Aadmi Party made a point to distance itself from the politics of hatred. Of late, Delhi has been in the news due to the ongoing anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh and Jamia university. The Kejriwal-led government focussed only on highlighting the achievements over the past 5 years through multiple townhalls, which won the heart of the people. In addition, Kejriwal has always maintained a personal touch with voters through public meetings, townhall events and mobile apps. Even AAP's election slogan 'Acche Beete Paanch Saal - Lage Raho Kejriwal' glorified Brand Kejriwal.
Work for senior citizens
Arvind Kejriwal had flagged off the first train under the Mukhyamantri Teerth Yatra (Chief Minister’s Pilgrimage) scheme, which ferries senior citizens to five different routes of religious significance for free. The government bears the entire expenditure, including travel, accommodation, meals and miscellaneous arrangements. The scheme covers five routes - Delhi-Mathura-Vrindavan-Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Delhi, Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Neelkanth-Delhi, Delhi-Ajmer-Pushkar-Delhi, Delhi-Amritsar-Bagha Border-Anandpur Sahib-Delhi and Delhi-Vaishno Devi-Jammu-Delhi.
Emotional bond with locals
Unlike his strong response to issues such as demonetisation and surgical strikes, Kejriwal did not take a strong stand against CAA and NPR. He did not openly support the Shaheen Bagh protesters, neither did he visit the protest site. Kejriwal also sought to strike an emotional chord with the voters when BJP MP Parvesh Verma called him a terrorist. He narrated how his parents were hurt by that allegation and asked voters to decide if he was their eldest son or a terrorist. He also sought to garner sympathy by discussing his health problems, saying he takes insulin four times a day as he suffers from acute diabetes. However, he undertook 15 days’ hunger strike twice for the country.
Just a day before voting for the 2015 Delhi assembly elections, Jama Masjid Iman Syed Ahmed Bukhari had appealed to Muslims to vote for Aam Aadmi Party. Kejriwal’s party, however, declined the offer saying it was against any type of caste and communal politics. However, Kejriwal has tried to woo people on religious lines.For instance, he has been regularly seen attending iftar events and sporting a skull cap. Besides, Arvind Kejriwal presented himself as a devotee of Lord Hanuman just a few days before the February 8 assembly election. He sang the Hanuman Chalisa and said it gives him peace of mind. A day before voting, Kejriwal visited Hanuman Temple in Delhi along with his family members and offered prayers. On the voting day, he was seen sporting a tilak on his forehead.
Arvind Kejriwal launched a major image makeover in the last couple of years. Earlier, he was in constant confrontation mode with the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over one issue or another, especially full statehood to Delhi. He even called Modi “psychopath and coward” and had expressed apprehension that Modi and Shah would get him killed. He strongly opposed the Centre’s actions such as demonetisation. He had also demanded proof of the Indian Army’s surgical strikes in Pak-occupied Kashmir. For about three years, Arvind Kejriwal kept complaining that Modi was not allowing him to work. However, over the last few months, Kejriwal changed tack. The aggression against Modi and Shah became a matter of the past.