Today, Feb 10th, 2015 has been a very special and unforgettable day !
The stunning sweep of the Aam Aadmi Party’s victory, with 67 out of 70 seats in the Delhi Vidhan Sabha, has come at the conclusion of a long year, with many points at which the party had been written off by detractors.
As I look back on the past year, I believe these are the 5 most important reasons that Delhi voted so resoundingly for AAP.
1. The hard work and credibility of AAP’s candidates : Sir jee – AAP ki sarkar !
Candidates who had been elected as MLA’s in the 2013 election, conducted several Mohalla sabhas and meetings with Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWA’s) to ascertain the most pressing needs of their constituency. They then proceeded to expend their entire MLA LAD (Local Area Development) Funds, in line with these priorities. By the time the Delhi assembly was dissolved in late 2014, each had a tangible report card of projects that had been efficiently executed, in line with the requests and needs of citizens of that area.
Candidates who had lost the last election (many by very narrow margins) remained engaged with their constituents and worked on identifying solutions to local issues – functioning as the shadow MLA’s of their area.
None of them knew whether or not they would be given a ticket for the 2015 election – but that did not hold them back. They used the past year wisely to build relationships and earn the trust of their voters – which gave them a great advantage, during the short one month campaign period.
2. The AAP 49 day Government : Yeh Dil maange more !
Though projected in a negative light by many in the media, the 49 day AAP Government was actually a great success with the Aam Nagrik of Delhi. Corruption visibly reduced, the VAT “raid raj” ceased, school admissions were made more transparent, an SIT was instituted to probe the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, 47 fast track courts to handle cases of violence against women were commissioned and promises on power and water were kept, to name just a few.
“Jo kaha so kiya” was a campaign cry that evoked a very positive response at every Jan Sabha I attended. What the opposition projected as anger against Arvind Kejriwal for “running away” – was in fact angst that he had not stayed on and continued to deliver.
When Arvind apologised with folded hands and said that he would never resign again, if voted in with a majority, the crowd would roar with approval !
3. Positive, Issue based Campaign : driven by the Delhi Dialogue
In October last year we started the Delhi Dialogue process, which along with a few of my AAP colleagues, I had the privilege of leading. Through the Dialogue we had discussions with stakeholders from across the city – with youth, women, traders, villagers, teachers, health workers, RWA’s etc to understand their problems. We then had discussions with specialists locally, nationally and globally to find solutions to these issues.
Our focus was to identify Issues and solutions that an Elected Govt in Delhi could address to make the life of Delhi’s citizens simpler and better. The dialogue was apolitical and bipartisan – we tried to speak with as wide a range of stakeholders as possible – whether they were AAP supporters or not.
What emerged was very positive and energizing. The dialogue itself created a great deal of positive energy. The outcome of the dialogue created a tangible and pragmatic 70 point action plan, that became the solid foundation for our Delhi manifesto.
4. Wonderful and highly motivated volunteers : Dil se !
The magic of AAP is in the people it attracts – and the selflessness with which they work. Drawn from all walks of life and from every socio-economic strata, the Delhi campaign was powered by Volunteers who had seen the party through its worst days and had chosen to stick by it. United by their desire to serve their country, no one was paid for their efforts – other than for modest reimbursements of expenses.
The Delhi team was supplemented by volunteers from across the country and a superbly competent NRI team.
With no hierarchy or discernible organisational structure, volunteers bonded together to form dynamic groups that were determined to bring in 5 Saal Kejriwal !
The camaraderie and enthusiasm with which volunteers got the Aam Aurat and Aam Aadmi to sing and dance to the catchy campaign theme song, had to be experienced to be believed. Talented singers, poets, actors, artists, cartoonists, IT professionals each contributed to make this a very successful and viral campaign in both the real and the virtual world.
5. The Opposition : Kya bole ?
Political analysts will undoubtedly present detailed analyses on the reasons for the opposition’s debacle. Suffice it to say, that the mainstream political parties seemed to score a series of self-goals, that were hard to fathom.
I believe we will look back to the 2015 Delhi election as a turning point. In a democracy, no matter how good the Government may be, an Alternative is essential.
For the past several months it seemed as if India was heading in a direction of single party dominance. Today the Common man has sent a message of hope across the country – that there is an alternative.
The onus is now on AAP to stay grounded and deliver transparent and accountable governance, that is honest, inclusive, equitable and sustainable.
And as Delhi swears in Arvind Kejriwal as its new Chief Minister on Valentine’s day, this is a romance on which the nation’s hopes rest !