Voters gave a resounding victory to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which won 62 out of 70 seats in the Legislative Assembly elections, held on February 8. The victory secures another term in office for Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.
Once again, India’s main opposition Congress party, which was at the helm of the Delhi government from 1998 until 2013, failed to make a mark.
While the BJP was not expected to win, the election was still a battle for prestige, with the two parties vying for recognition in the country’s capital.
Parliament and the government residences are all based in New Delhi, and Modi’s BJP was looking to assert its authority after winning a landslide victory in national elections in May.
However, this is the latest in a series of state election losses for the BJP, with the Congress party claiming sole or allied victories in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Jharkand.
Voters reject divisive politics
The Delhi election had come to represent a mandate on Modi’s divisive platform.
But voters chose not to be swayed by the BJP’s ideological battle and instead re-elected Kejriwal — the incumbent who is popular among the city’s lower income communities for his welfare policies.
Kejriwal, a former bureaucrat, came into the political spotlight as an anti-corruption campaigner. His party’s symbol, a broom, represents the sweeping out of corruption.
He first became chief minister in 2013 and was re-elected in 2015 with 67 seats. The party’s campaign highlighted the local medical clinics it has built for the city’s poor, improved state education and its work to provide water and electricity to lower-income households.
“Delhiites have given out a message that they will only vote for the one who builds schools, neighborhood clinics, provides 24-hour cheap electricity, water in every home and better roads. Friends, this is a new kind of politics…It is not the victory of Delhiites alone, it is a victory for Mother India, for our entire country,” he added.
Pro-poor policies beat polarizing politics
A number of politicians from across the spectrum took to social media to congratulate Kejriwal, including Modi and Rahul Gandhi, former president of the Congress party.
Many echoed Banerjee’s sentiments, praising the AAP for focusing on the issues that matter.