Strategically New Delhi doesn't mean much. It is not even a State. In terms of size, it is the 30th largest in terms of all of India's States/Union Territories. Plus the BJP has also been out of power since 1998 and the State unit has been in disarray for ages.
Even when the (Prime Minister Narendra) Modi Wave started in 2013, Mizoram and Delhi were the only places that did not see a BJP Chief Minister. This though won’t affect their plans for upcoming elections in Bihar, West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh.
The AAP may have beaten the BJP in 2015 Delhi Assembly elections, but they have no presence in the above mentioned States to capitalize on.
Nothing “concrete” changes for the BJP: However in terms of abstract things like “ego”, “pride” and “prestige”, it is a Grade I disaster. Now the entire mainstream media, Left establishment, NGOs, Civil Society, Modi Haters… which had been in hibernation since May 16 will be out in the open.
The icing on the cake for them is that they all live in Delhi and they will happily say: You may rule all of India, but not here in New Delhi!
Get ready to get tonnes of analyses like: The Modi Wave is dead; the citizens of India have rejected Modi; Modi loses a mini referendum; Modi has to desperately reinvent himself to stay alive; BJP President Amit Shah is finally finished…
There will be a lot of chest thumping, “I told you so” comments, edits and warnings where every little thing done by the Hindutva fringe or every minor setback for the Modi government will be magnified many times over again and again.
Both Modi and Shah realized this. That is why when they found in January that they had a narrow lead over the AAP they decided to do something drastic. They got in India Against Corruption star Kiran Bedi to counter AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal.
They conducted many a rally, all the BJP stalwarts were asked to step in, AAP leaders were attacked soundly and the TV channels were courted like never before. The BJP tried to beat AAP at its own game: And failed spectacularly!
Maybe this will teach the BJP to stick to their core competency, which was the Hindutva card in the 1990s but the development card in the 2010s. Kejriwal may rant and rave all he likes, but the people are used to it. But they will not accept the same from camp Modi.
The biggest irony is that in a way this is a repeat of 2014. Then Kejriwal became Chief Minister and people called it as a national trend against Modi but that theory fell flat during the Lok Sabha elections.
Now also Kejriwal will become Chief Minister and people are again calling it a national trend against Modi but that theory will fall flat in places like Bihar and Uttar Pradesh where the AAP has a zero presence.
If the Congress had won Delhi, then they could have used it as a launch pad to revive their fortunes in the rest of India. The AAP has four Lok Sabha seats in Punjab, but then the next Assembly elections in Punjab are in 2017!
Kejriwal winning like this is absolutely nothing novel. RJD’s Laloo Prasad Yadav (in Bihar), SP’s Mulayam Singh Yadav and BSP’s Mayawati (both Uttar Pradesh) all got re-elected despite giving pathetic governance.
Kejriwal’s 49-day stint as Chief Minister was a disaster where he showed he was totally ill-equipped for the job. He had zero ideas to improve Delhi and one doesn’t see how that has changed now.
No matter what a big mandate you get, you won’t succeed if you don’t have a solid development agenda in the first place.
While BJP looks on the back foot today, if things get worse in six months (summer is approaching and Kejriwal has no solutions for the power industry save increasing subsidies) then there could be a severe AAP backlash.
Anyway, all that is in the long-term.
In the short-term: Kejriwal and the AAP have achieved a huge David versus Goliath victory.
Meanwhile Modi suffers his first big “ego” defeat, not so bad when you consider that he has been undefeated at the hustings since 2002.
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The author is a Bangalore-based journalist and blogger. He blogshere.