AAP Victory in Delhi: Secular India Stands Defeated

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Aam Aadmi Party chief and Chief Minister of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal, centre, his wife Sunita Kejriwal, right, and Deputy Chief Minister of Delhi Manish Sisodia visit Hanuman Mandir in New Delhi on Tuesday. — EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

Binu Mathew

IN spite of a full fledged campaign based on hate politics, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) failed to win the coveted Delhi state elections. Aam Aadmi Party (Common People’s party) or AAP led by incumbent Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal won 62 out of 70 seats. BJP managed to get eight seats while Congress drew a blank.

While BJP campaign was based on hate politics even calling the election an India-Pakistan match, it failed to win the heart of the people. One BJP leader exhorted his followers to shoot the Shaheen Bagh protesters. AAP on the other hand campaigned based on good governance. It fore fronted its successful work on community health, education, free electricity and water for the poor etc.

Even though the Delhi election result is a huge relief in the hate filled politics of India, the AAP did not win the election in the age old values of secularism or communal harmony. The party kept quiet on the unconstitutional Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) which Arundhati Roy termed ‘resembling Nazi Nuremberg Citizenship Laws’. The party kept quiet on all major controversial decisions taken by the BJP government at the centre including the revocation of article 370 which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir, the Ayodhya verdict, attack on students of Jamia Millia Islamia and JNU. Kept quiet on the women’s protest against CAA in Shaheen Bagh.  AAP was obviously playing a centre-right politics acting as a B team to BJP.

He made his centre-right position clear in his victory speech by dedicating the victory for “Bharat Mata” (mother India). Kejriwal’s credits also included Lord Hanuman. “Today is Tuesday, the day of Hanuman-ji. Hanuman-ji has showered Delhi with blessings. Thank you, Hanuman-ji,” said the Delhi Chief Minister, whose recitation of Hanuman Chalisa during the poll campaign caused a flutter and provoked BJP allegations that he was resorting to Hindutva to win.

There were also slogans of “Bharat Mata ki Jai (Hail mother India)”, not commonly heard in AAP gatherings.

The former taxman-turned-activist-turned politician will become Chief Minister for the third straight time.

Even though it is a victory against fascist BJP it cannot be called a victory of the secular values of the country. Delhi could be a template for future elections in India. In a nut shell, secular India stands defeated.

The essence of the AAP’s Delhi election victory is that the concerns of the minorities are subsumed under the majoritarian religious politics. Minorities are taken for granted as the vote bank of the lesser evil. It’s happening all across India, except Kerala where there is a significant number of minorities, who are vocal and well represented. Is this the polity that makers of the constitution envisaged? Can we call it secularism?

If Delhi becomes the template for elections in India it is the end of secular India most of us grew up with. Minorities are not vote banks for majoritarian politicians. They are flesh and blood people with hopes and aspirations whose voices to be heard and responded to. Sadly that’s not happening. That’s present India’s tragedy. BJP may continue to lose state elections because of the local political atmosphere. For a national alternative to emerge, we need a politics that takes Hindutva agenda heads on, which is inclusive and carries the minorities, Dalit, Bahujans, Adivasis along with it. All else is a band aid on a bullet wound.

c.Counter Currents

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