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16 February, 2020 11:19:00 AM
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Standing together

The win is not just for AAP but one for India and its national spirit of standing together as well
Kumkum Chadha
Standing together

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is not the only one who said that the election results in Delhi were more national than winning merely a state election: “This is not just a win for Delhi but for the entire country” he said as the national capital which went to polls last week, voted him in for the third consecutive term. To quote Kejriwal: “It is a win for Bharat Mata” or Mother India.
At a personal level, it was for him and his wife Sunita a kind of double celebration because it was also her birthday on the day the results were announced giving a thumping majority to her husband’s Aam Aadmi Party or AAP as it is popularly known.
“It’s the biggest gift I have received” Sunita said kind of beaming as she stood next to her husband who generously fed her a large piece of cake:  “This is the victory of truth”, she said.
So, what is it about Delhi elections that elevated it from a mere assembly poll to one in which all eyes across the country  were on it? What is it that made it a battle of all battles that the contenders had bet their life on? Was it because they wanted Kejriwal to win or see the BJP lose? Was it one about work and development versus empty slogans?

Kejriwal indeed underplayed it when he said that the people of Delhi had demonstrated that“this is a win for every family getting 24-hour power supply, good education for children and proper treatment in hospitals.”

Kejriwal said, “People have given birth to a new politics. They have sent a message that vote will go to those who will build schools, mohalla clinics, who will provide water, power and new roads.”. He said this kind of politics was very auspicious and augured well for the country. “This will take us into the 21st century. This is also a win for Bharat Mata.”
True the massive mandate given to Kejriiwal , 63 seats in the 70 member assembly, had a lot to do with the free water and electricity that the people of Delhi were provided; even the improvement in schools had a part to play and ofcourse the Mohalla or community clinics that caught the attention of none other than the former secretary-general of theUnited Nations  Ban Ki-moon and former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland during their visit to a health facility in Delhi.

Ban said he was deeply "touched and impressed" with Kejriwal's "strong engagement and vision" to provide primary health care service to poor and vulnerable people.

"Mohalla Clinic and polyclinic are good examples of it. I hope there will be much more support and strong engagement at the Union government level also," he said.

Brundtland, who has also served as the director general of the World Health Organisation, said she witnessed "impressive work" being done at the Mohalla Clinic and the polyclinic.

"In Delhi, with Mohalla Clinics and plans to develop them, you are approaching what needs to be done for all people, for every Indian and everyone in every country. So, we are happy to see what is being done here in Delhi and what the government has been planning and implementing on the behalf of the people of this region. It needs to be done all over India," she said.

That Kejriwal’s social initiatives had touched a chord with the men and women on the street was evident when a manual worker, a woman, told newspersons that the money she saved from travelling by bus now enabled her to buy a litre of milk to take back home.  Kejriwal had during his tenure as Chief Minister  made bus rides for women free: a step that had won him gender support. It is therefore not without reason that thenumber of women voters matched the men when it came to voting. That apart they went ahead and exercised an independent choice which did not necessarily coincide with the electoral choice of the men  in their homes thus breaking the myth that women voters vote “where men tell them to”. There is enough statistical evidence to substantiate that  women contributed in large measure towards AAP’s sweep in the recently concluded Delhi elections.  

 But coming back to the key question: was this election about freebies or substituting a litre of milk with a bus fare or Mohalla clinics? An answer in the affirmative would be simplifying a result which has many ramifications for India and the dirty politics that the country saw unleashed in the run up to the elections.  

It was not a battle of the ballot but one where hate, rage and divisive politics reigned supreme: it was not about winning or losing an election but about dividing minds and the polity of a country which stood up to the challenge and sent a clear message that if push came to a shove the people of this country through the electorate of Delhi will give a befitting reply to forces which are tearing the social and secular fabric of this country apart; nor will it let the communal divide besmear the soul of India.

 

 Therefore, this election and its outcome was not about Kejriwal’s win. Or his achievements or the numbers he had bagged. It was much more than that.  

It was about the BJP’s defeat more than AAP’s victory. It was about its rout and the outright rejection of hate politics that the BJP was openly advocating and hoping to gain by it. It was about painting one community, namel­y the Muslims, black and branding them as anti-national. And it was the joy of seeing all this defeated.  

The BJP defeat had another lesson which its leaders would well do to learn from: this being that the experiment of hate politics had completely failed.  

It also demonstrated that the perceived Midas  touch of Union Minister Amit Shah who has won several elections for the BJP in the past is on the decline. And the strong man is not so strong after all.  

It is a fact that Shah took it upon himself to ensure that the BJP makes a decent comeback in Delhi even if it does not win. Shah, if reports are anything to go by, burnt the midnight oil, unleashed rabid leaders on the Delhi electorate to do or die. None of this worked and the BJP fell flat on its face: unable to reach even a double digit in the face of claims of forming the government in Delhi.

 It is against this backdrop that the win is not AAP’s or Kejriwal but one for India and its national spirit of standing together.

The writer is a senior Indian journalist, political commentator and columnist of The Independent. She can be reached at: (kumkum91@gmail.com)

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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