On February 8th 2020 BJP received a decisive lost in elections held for the Delhi state legislature. The blow was taken by Minoj Tiwari on behalf of BJP, who himself was going through persona crisis due to some of his social activities that surfaced the internet. A divisive campaign which was laden with Hindu nationalism and anti Muslim sentiments the party never saw the lost coming. On contrary Aam Admi Party’s (AAP) Arvind Kajriwal dominated BJP with 62 seats out of 70 leaving BJP with 8 seats, contributing for AAP’s back to back sweep 2015 elections. Arvind not only made them accept defeat, but also compelled BJP’s head Modi to admit that identity politics was the core issue of lost in Delhi elections. This election was recorded to be the most hate-filled elections in Indian history.
BJP led an aggressive sectarian campaign which rippled Delhi with Hindu nationalism and religious polarization. The campaign focused on recent nationalist moves BJP played to cover their economic failures, despite addressing the masses at four different places and 4 rallies the electoral failure was not the response they expected. Though a lot was spent on the electoral campaign with powerful BJP personalities appearing on forefronts to gain the edge over subtle AAP, BJP wasn’t able to deliver ideas that would break through the image of BJP they have acquired over time pertaining to Delhi and their development policies. BJP’s campaign seemed unorganized with no clear agenda how they would have made the difference as state legislators. The campaign just demonized Muslims who were already suffering from non-democratic religious authoritarianism calling them traitors and terrorists, it sought to frighten the Hindus in Delhi by emphasizing on the Islamophobia rhetoric. Delhi is the same placed which helped Modi become the prime minister, thought otherwise for choosing their chef minister with 62% votes. BJP’s label game and dogmatic ideological schemes were not only restricted for Muslims but also encompassed its Hindu opponents calling them terrorist and danger to integrity of India.
Shaheen bagh, a Muslim neighborhood where the peaceful protests by Muslim women and children against the fascist Citizen Amendment Act were underway, seemed like the only topic BJP could come up in their campaign. BJP’s leaders spared no chance to spread hate and label people rapists and murderer and went to an extent of suggesting that they should be shot to death. The card of Hindu nationalism, flaring of Islamopobia, which was losing its grounds in India, and identity politics started manifesting with greater intensity when at every step AAP’s Arvind Kajriwal checkmated BJP’s campaign with his progressive development plans and his consistency to deliver throughout his past tenure. After confronting such an enthusiasm BJP seemed frustrated and failed drastically to show their competency and their vision for social harmony and economic betterment in India perhaps had no substance of sensible statecraft.
Arvind kajriwal, a bureaucrat, who became anti-corruption activist, a politician and former chief Minister, was a potential candidate due to his credibility and the efforts that he had put in development of Delhi. His campaign focused on pro-poor policies, commitments for eradication of corruption and development in the sectors of education, health and energy. His statements were taken highly credible due to his efforts and progressiveness as chief minister of Delhi in the previous term. His attitude on the sectarian issues made him more reliable for stability in Delhi. When addressing to a public interview he cleared it out that different religious groups form an integral part of India that’s what has made India a culturally diverse and adaptive country. This statement points out his hostility towards the citizen amendment act as well as ethnic and religious polarization.
A lot has been perceived from this election; it may be that Hindu’s have voted for their material benefits while Muslims clearly voted for their security. One thing is for sure that Delhi has a clear distinction of federal and state politics, one of the unanimous indications of that is their preference of good governance and sustainability over radical nationalism acquainted with militancy and religious stratification. A profound message has been sent that politics of polarization will not work in Delhi and AAP has capacity to shift the dynamics of identity politics which is at rise in India. It can also be deduced from the results that educated population has rejected the ideological war that BJP is focused on and didn’t buy the Hindu majoritarianism projected by BJP in the urban setup. The elections are evident that BJP has still not broaden its scope to improve its statecraftmenship and at anytime, out of sheer frustration due to the circumstances, can back track to its radical Hindu nationalism rather than taking rational, progressive measures for regional and national stability. Delhi seems disappointed from BJP for their inability to resolve the conflicts on national levels and step up for the cause. Such measures from BJP are not only affecting India’s stable economy and social stability but also reshaping the conflicts in South Asian region.