The Delhi Chief Minister is the weakest in the country, always in the shadow of the Central government. After all, what can a CM do in PM land? On top of that Delhi is just the 30th largest State/Union Territory and the 19th most populous in India.
That way the Delhi CM is among the least significant in the land. Despite that Arvind Kejriwal and the Aam Aadmi Party received unprecedented support and coverage from the mainstream media in general and the TV channels in particular when they contested the Delhi Assembly elections in 2013.
Kejriwal was presented as something totally different despite being old wine (communism) in a new bottle. AAP came second to the BJP. This was a good debut but definitely not a spectacular one. The Telugu Desam Party was launched in March 1982 and within a year (January 1983), it won a whopping 201/290 seats in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly.
Even Goa’s Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party and Assam’s Asom Gana Parishad became the largest parties in their respective Assemblies in their very first attempts. Yet the 24X7 media frenzy tried to tell us that what Kejriwal and the AAP did was unprecedented in Indian politics.
When Kejriwal joined hands with the Congress he proved to be just like any other opportunistic politician trying to grab power through shaky alliances. As CM he ranted, raved, did dharnas and quit for no reason. Any other personality would have been consigned to the dustbin of history after that.
However the media then curiously presented him as a Prime Ministerial candidate. BJP’s Narendra Modi was the clear favourite. If the Congress got 120-140 seats, then even a Congress PM was conceivable.
In a totally hopeless hung house, it could have been Trinamool Congress’ Mamata Banerjee or ADMK’s Jayalalithaa. Kejriwal had as much chance as a snowflake in hell. Despite this reality, the TV channels presented Modi, Kejriwal and Rahul Gandhi on equal footing.
An abysmal 4 Lok Sabha seats for the AAP did not surprise the common voter but left egg on the faces of senior editors who continued as if nothing had happened.
In the end, the AAP was reduced to just another regional party like dozens of others. Despite that they continue to get unprecedented media coverage well into 2015.
When the BJP played the masterstroke of putting up Kiran Bedi as a Chief Ministerial candidate, instead of being appreciated, it was rubbished. Bedi was attacked by the media for the sole reason that she had decided to take on Kejriwal.
Things got so bad that BJP President Amit Shah directly accused a TV channel of yellow journalism on the issue of support to the AAP. He had every reason to be livid. The entire AAP campaign had initially centred on attacking leaders like Jagdish Mukhi and Satish Upadhyaya.
Bedi’s candidature punctured those plans and yet it was Bedi who was soundly attacked by the media. Another curious aspect is that this is being presented as some sort of big test for Modi. Modi’s biggest test was the 2014 Lok Sabha polls which he passed with flying colours. His three Gujarat Assembly elections were also very important.
Other achievements include heading campaigns that delivered the very first Maharashtra and Haryana CMs; Jharkhand’s first majority government and an unprecedented vote share for the BJP in the Jammu & Kashmir Assembly.
The 2015 Delhi Assembly elections could be called the least important of Modi’s challenges in his entire life. It doesn’t make any difference to his fortunes if BJP comes first or second. It is an unimportant State and also the proportionate share MP in the Rajya Sabha is not that much.
Despite this ground reality a senior editor even hilariously called this election Modi’s biggest test since 2002!
If the AAP should emerge as the single largest party in the 2015 Delhi elections then the nauseating coverage and pumping air into the Kejriwal balloon will continue. Even so if it emerges as the second largest party and captures power with the support of the Congress in a hung Assembly. (A repeat of 2013)
If the BJP gets an absolute majority and Bedi becomes CM, then the media will find it tougher and tougher to prop up their favourite Kejriwal with each passing day.