I hope the emphatic win of the Aam Aadmi Party in Delhi for the third time in a row has finally closed the debate of whether AAP will be able to survive the onslaught of a vicious and massive BJP election machine.
Despite AAP being in existence for more than seven years, many people were unsure it would regain Delhi.
We have been called many things over the years, but the thing that I most closely identified with was AAP being called a start-up. We are a political start-up and like many other start-ups, people have had their share of questions and doubts. In this election, it was whether education and healthcare would be a good enough reason for voters to bring us back. And whether AAP with meager resources would able to match up to the all-powerful BJP.
Now that Arvind Kejriwal is slated to be Delhi's Chief Minister for a third consecutive time, those doubts have been laid to rest. The people of Delhi have proven that they value education and healthcare over the shenanigans of BJP. They have proved that national and assembly elections are entirely different. Maybe today will also become a turning point for the way the rest of India's opposition sees the BJP. The BJP election machinery has been established as no longer unassailable. Maharashtra started the conversation, Jharkhand strengthened it and Delhi has sealed the debate.
People have asked me multiple times during the campaign how we avoided falling into the trap created by BJP. The answer is quite simple - we did so by sticking to our agenda. During the campaign, BJP tried to create issues out of non-issues; they also tried drawing national issues to the discussion table for Delhi. We kept reiterating again and again that our only agenda was deliverables and plans for education, health care, electricity, water and the basic necessities of the people of Delhi.
For the first time in years, someone has forced the BJP out of its comfort zone. The BJP came full throttle to Delhi with the Home Minister leading the charge. Media reports say that more than 10 chief ministers, current and ex, campaigned in Delhi for the BJP, apart from 200+ MPs and thousands of BJP workers from across India. Despite that, they did not cut ice with the voters of Delhi. They did everything that they are experts at - from communal and divisive warmongering to calling Arvind Kejriwal a terrorist to promising that they would multiply the basic services being provided by the AAP government.
Social media, of course, played a huge role in creating the discourse that we owned. And this didn't start a few weeks or a few months before the election, it started right in 2017 when we started talk about the changes that we had brought about in education and healthcare in Delhi.
From existing platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube to newer platforms like Sharechat, TikTok and Likee, we covered them all. Wacky content also played a huge role.
By 2017, many of the initiatives started by AAP after coming to power in 2015 had started to bear fruit. We started with something as simple as sharing school pictures. Over the next two years, this grew into a full-fledged movement with people not only appreciating Delhi government initiatives in improving government schools but parents actually shifting their kids from private to government schools. That is something unheard of in India in the past few decades.
Right from video testimonials of these people to videos of school infrastructure to publicizing initiatives like the Happiness and Entrepreneurship curriculum, we made sure that Delhi government schools stand out.
There may be other state governments taking good initiatives for government schools but their improvements may be limited to bits and pieces and more importantly, are not talked about by the general public on social media.
Now that the results are done, I hope that we will be able to work towards what the people of Delhi have chosen as for and give them a better Delhi.
(Ankit Lal is social media strategist, Aam Aadmi Party.)
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