After the massive victory of the Bharatiya Janata Party during the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP continued its victory march in all the State Assembly elections held after that. To many, it seemed the BJP was invincible. The victory rath of the BJP has not only been halted by Mr. Kejriwal, but actually wrecked by the AAP. For the BJP it is not merely a defeat; this may be its most humiliating defeat, after it managed to win only three seats and polled only 32 per cent of votes. Compared to the 2013 Assembly elections, when no party managed to get a majority, the AAP has managed to improve its tally by 39 seats, with its vote share going up by nearly 22 percentage points. On the other hand, the vote share of the BJP has declined marginally by one-and-a-half percentage points when compared to the 2013 Assembly elections and by nearly 12 percentage points when compared to the 2014 election. One can hardly believe that the party that led in 60 of the 70 Assembly segments barely eight months ago would now be routed. It is important to understand what really happened during the last eight months that has now completely changed the electoral landscape of Delhi — of how a party, which led over its nearest rival by more than 13 per cent of the total votes, trailed behind that party in barely a few months time.
This is more a positive vote for the AAP than a negative one for the BJP or Narendra Modi. Had this been a negative vote for the BJP, the AAP may not have managed to register such a massive victory. While almost all parties promised to provide electricity and water supply at reduced rates, and greater security for women, in reality, the entire election turned into a referendum on the AAP’s chief ministerial candidate, Arvind Kejriwal, and the AAP managed to benefit by projecting himself/itself from this phenomenon. The popularity of Mr. Kejriwal was much higher when compared to any other leader. Even the votes polled by the AAP are a clear indication that some sections of voters voted for the AAP only due to Mr. Kejriwal. Initially, though a large number of voters seemed to have been polarised in favour of different parties, some may have shifted their voting preference from other parties to the AAP at the very last minute of voting, keeping in mind the prospective Chief Minister.
What seems to have contributed to the AAP victory is a very sharp polarisation of the minorities mainly the Muslims, who constitute 11 per cent of Delhi’s voters. With their concentration in about seven to eight Assembly constituencies, they were in a position to swing the elections in these constituencies. The Muslim vote, which remained divided between the Congress and the AAP during the 2013 Assembly elections, seems to have shifted in favour of the AAP in a big way. Had the 2013 Assembly elections witnessed a similar shift for the AAP in its favour, this election may not have been necessary.