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Delhi State Election: Message of Arvind Kejriwal’s victory for Lok Sabha 2024

Delhi Assembly Election 2020 seems to have delivered a formula to defeat BJP’s brand of nationalism and aggressive Hindutva. Besides, Kejriwal’s Delhi Model of development is gaining popularity as chief ministers of Jharkhand and Maharashtra have already announced to adopt the same. Will Arvind Kejriwal be accepted as the face of a united opposition 2024? What are the strengths and weaknesses of Kejriwal and Narendra Modi; and where these leaders need to focus? Devdiscourse conducted a panel discussion on this burning topic to present insight for the readers to peep into the future of India’s national politics.


Delhi State Election: Message of Arvind Kejriwal’s victory for Lok Sabha 2024
Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal addressing his supporters at party office on Tuesday. Image Credit: ANI

The verdict is out. Arvind Kejriwal has been accepted as 'son of the city'. With this electoral victory, Kejriwal and his Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) have made hat-trick in Delhi. But the message of the verdict is so thunderous that the political scientists have started predicting his role in national politics. These predictions are not mere imaginations but rooted in strong arguments closely linked with the contemporary socio-political and economic scenario of India.

Since 2014, Kejriwal's Delhi model is being looked upon as a winning strategy against the BJP led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) at the Centre. The formula adopted by Kejriwal has almost every ingredient to take over NDA at the national level with a constraint- he lacks requisite cadre states outside Delhi. This is his apparent weakness compared to Prime Minister Narendra Modi. What will be possibilities in Lok Sabha 2024? Devdiscourse conducted a panel discussion for an in-depth analysis of the issue on February 12. Here we are presenting this discussion in the form of an article, which is based on comparative political analysis, to provide our readers a window to peep into the political scenario of India in the next Lok Sabha Election of 2024.

Agenda of Development

After being projected as the prime ministerial candidate of BJP for Lok Sabha Election 2014, the then Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi projected his 'Gujarat Model of Development' for India. Though his opponents continued to flay him for his inability to control Gujarat riots 2002, Modi focused on projecting the positive agenda of the Gujarat model of development. He promised the same kind of development for the country.

The people of the country upheld his developmental politics in 2014. However, the Lok Sabha Election 2019 witnessed a qualitative change in his brand of politics wherein the ratio of development was decreased significantly, and space was filled with aggressive Hindutva and hardcore nationalism.

Here, Kejriwal seems on the rising path. He relinquished his confrontationist approach and projected his image as a 'man of development'. Interestingly, the advice came from the same political strategist – Mr. Prashant Kishore – who is credited to manage the image of Narendra Modi in 2014. Kejriwal 2.0 has the 'Delhi Model' of development to project at the national level and a professional political strategist who has friends across the political parties.

Good Governance and Crusader Against Corruption

However, corruption has been a core issue of Narendra Modi's brand of politics but Arvind Kejriwal for his association with the movement of Anna Hazare seems to have an edge. Both leaders love to project corruption-free politics and have governance. There have been allegations of sheltering corrupts against both but Kejriwal has an edge. As Delhi police come under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Home Affairs, he can blame the Central government, but Modi has no option to blame anybody.

Besides the tangible improvement, the public perception about corruption is also positive in Delhi. Arvind Kejriwal will certainly get the mileage on his image of 'crusader against corruption and good governance in the city. "Bhrashtachar ka Ek hi Kaal (Only one (man) can crush corruption) – Kejriwal! .. Kejriwal!!" – this is among the most popular slogans of his followers.

Nationalism

In the course of time, Arvind Kejriwal has developed his own brand of nationalism. Once upon a time, he was the first to question 'surgical strike' but he was first to support the removal of Article 370 from Jammu & Kashmir. Kejriwal and his party never supported pro-Kashmir protestors. "True nationalism is about providing education to every child and health for every citizen of the country. Nationalism is not about inciting enmity between Hindus and Muslims but it's all about providing an environment for peaceful and happy coexistence," said Manish Sisodia in his first reaction to media on February 11. AAP's brand of nationalism seems to be inclusive and development-oriented, here BJP seems to have deviated.

BJP's brand of nationalism seemed within the affordable limits in Lok Sabha 2019, but the increasing ratio of aggressive Hindutva and hardcore nationalism have apparently made it toxic particularly CAA (Citizenship Amendment Act) and NRC (National Register of Citizens).

Soft Hindutva versus Aggressive Hindutva

Soft Hindutva, broadly defined as being a proud Hindu but not dangerous for any other community, seems the main policy of Modi 1.0. He is seen visiting temples but not using foul language against any other community. This was also witnessed when just before the Lok Sabha election 2019, Modi rejected the demand of RSS to bring legislation in Parliament for Ram Temple in Ayodhya. However, Amit Shah is credited to introduce several elements of hardcore Hindutva both in action and speech. This is also being a reason for BJP's failure.

Soft Hindutva was what Rahul Gandhi tried to adorn by projecting himself as 'Brahmin' but failed. Kejriwal succeeded even on this front by invoking the God Hanuman. Besides, he credited his victory to the blessings of God Hanuman and Bharat Mata. However, he used to recite Bharat Mata Ki Jai (Long Live! Mother India) since his days of the Lokpal Movement but his declaration of being a staunch devotee of God Hanuman is new for AAP supremo.

Communication Plans

Both Modi and Kejriwal are exceptional orators of their times. However, AAP's communication seems to be well organized both at the level of government and party. AAP government in Delhi relied on all forms of communication – public meetings, print media, electronic media, social media, outdoor advertisements, etc. for reaching out to people whenever it becomes necessary. AAP government always comes with well-designed communication plans and messages to communicate about its plans, policies, initiatives, and concerns to its voters. However, Prime Minister Narendra Modi seems to have overconfidence on social media. His government hardly ever comes out with a well-designed message to communicate with the people. Besides, he has failed to strike a dialogue with opposition parties and win over the confidence of Chief Ministers in opposition states. The way BJP MP's give controversial statements within and outside parliament; it seems they have very poor communication skills.

After the removal of Article 370, BJP seems to be in a state of mind that people would accept anything suddenly. This seems to have led to the sudden enforcement of CAA and the announcement of NRC in parliament. The situation has gone so disastrous that even the Chief Ministers are skeptical about the initiative of the Central government. Besides the quick turn of things, the poor communication plan of the Central government will also be held responsible for protests against CAA.

In fact, communication skills have always been an edge in the politics of a state like Delhi. The longest ever Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit also had an edge on her opponents due to her strong communication skills. She was so soft-spoken, well versed in her selection of words and gestures that she used to win the trust of persons within a few minutes of dialogue. At a point in time, her name was also in discussion for the PM candidate of UPA in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

Arvind Kejriwal as Prime Ministerial Candidate of United Opposition?

In politics, every politician wants a political breathing space for survival. BJP's aggressive politics is not providing the requisite breathing space. It's high time that BJP should initiate dialogue with various political parties having significant representation in the Parliament. If BJP continues to alienate the entire political class and fails to initiate dialogues, the chances are very high for tactical opposition unity against the ruling party.

Besides its strengths, a divided opposition paving the way for the triangular and multi-angular contest has been winning formula for BJP in states as well as in the Lok Sabha Election 2014 and 2019. The alienation may lead to further consolidation and opposition unity at any cost. In such a case, Arvind Kejriwal may emerge as the face of a united opposition against Narendra Modi in 2024. As AAP does not have a strong cadre in states, Kejriwal may not be perceived as a threat to their regional political interests by regional satraps in comparison to BJP. Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren and Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray have already declared to adopt the Delhi Model of development. Besides Congress, Kishore has experience working with regional parties such as All India Trinamool Congress, JDU, TDP, etc. This inter-party connection of Kishore would also be helpful for Kejriwal for a bigger political alliance for him.

PANELISTS: J.P. Singh, Siddheshwar Shukla, Parag Narang, and Rajender Kumar.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the panelists The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)

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