(Ashutosh joined the Aam Aadmi Party in January 2014. The former journalist took on former Union minister Kapil Sibal and Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in the national election from Chandni Chowk in Delhi.)
Winston Churchill once said that a week is a long time in politics. Less than a week is left for Delhi to vote, and this has turned into the mother of all elections held in the recent past. The stakes are heavy for the BJP, especially for Prime Minister Modi and BJP President Amit Shah. If the BJP loses, then the Modi myth will be busted and he will be the first Prime Minister whose popularity waned so quickly. Opinion polls suggest the BJP is heading for a landslide defeat.
We don't go by these polls. Our internal surveys show that this will be a landslide victory for the Aam Aadmi Party and we might cross two-thirds majority.
These opinion polls had been predicting an easy victory for the BJP in Delhi till a fortnight ago. We, as AAP, even then disagreed with these findings. We have been witnessing a different kind of response from the ground ,which was not in sync with poll predictions. A very different kind of body language was welcoming us in every corner of the capital except for a few hard-core BJP/RSS supporters who were abusive even in private encounters.
I could understand their bitterness. They were not able to digest the fact that a party which is a toddler in electoral politics could snatch victory from them. They had assumed even in the last assembly elections that BJP would form the government but due to AAP, the BJP had to sit in the opposition. I remember on the morning of December 8 2013, the day the Delhi assembly elections were declared, BJP leader Harsh Vardhan had organized a big bash to celebrate the big win, but by afternoon they had to face a rude shock.
- There was a very high approval rating for the 49 days of AAP governance. Every survey had shown more than 65% approval rating, indicative of the fact that people had believed all through in AAP, despite all the propaganda of the combined might of BJP/RSS.
- In 49 days of the AAP government, corruption in Delhi had gone down drastically, which was a boon to the underclass of Delhi and for the people living on the margins or below poverty lines. The Police not demanding a bribe meant a STRAIGHT saving of 30% on an average, which is huge for a man who earns less than Rs 10,000 a month. This class saw AAP as a saviour.
- Slashing of power bills and providing water free of cost were two major concessions of the AAP government which benefited the middle class and lower middle class massively. This class felt cheated when after Kejriwal's resignation they had again to pay the original inflated bills for electricity and water. This class is also praying for AAP's comeback to power.
- We have also been seeing a sharp decline in the Congress social support base. During the last elections, the Congress was a ruling party; there was anti-incumbency against them. Congress was the center of the discussion, but this year, the Congress was just a footnote. The Congress's loss is obviously a gain for the AAP.
- The BJP waited for AAP to wilt, but AAP worked on its organization silently and steadily. We consolidated our gains and infiltrated new territories. The BJP on the other hand put its faith in the Modi magic and when it proved ineffective, they did not know how to react. By the time elections were declared, we had already reached out to voters many times over and made inroads in new social sectors.
Let's not forget that the BJP voters are traditionally very vocal. Whereas the AAP voter which is mostly underclass is subdued but more determined to exercise his/her voting right. Opinion polls try very hard to represent and reflect all shades of opinions but it's very difficult to reach the subdued class completely. All the polls and surveys could have committed this mistake. They mostly captured the vocal middle class the BJP. But when elections came closer and the campaigning became fierce, the subdued class sensed that AAP was strongly with them, they also got emboldened and vocal in large numbers which of late has reflected in recent surveys and it is because of this reason that the results look very dramatic now. The fact is that if surveys had gone deeper with a more scientific approach, the real picture even two months ago would have been different. Anyway, better late than sorry!!!
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