The humungous Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) victory in Delhi state elections, where it won 62 out of the 70 seats, will have ramifications for the BJP because its entire arsenal of threats, high talk and hate rhetoric has been neutralised, leaving the Narendra Modi-Amit Shah duo sounding vacuous.
With its fifth consecutive loss in state elections, all of Amit Shah’s so-called strategic brilliance lay exposed like shattered bricks in a decrepit zamindar’s mansion. The problem is that Shah-Modi has no more tricks left to try. The combination of Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens (CAA-NRC) was supposed to be the jewel in the thorny crown of an India divided, where Muslims would be sent out of the cities into ghettos and detention centres. In a strong rebuttal, two Muslim candidates of AAP, Amanullah Khan in Okhla–which includes Shaheen Bagh the ground zero of the anti-CAA protests–won by 70,000 votes and Shoaib Iqbal, a party hopper who finally landed in AAP, won Matia Mahal by over 50,000 votes from right under the eagle eyes of the BJP leaders.
More lethal in terms of ideological positioning is that AAP won from a ‘BJP Lite’ platform, cutting out the anti-Muslim rant, embracing a certain work ethic, and not forgetting to chant the Hanuman chalisa as Arvind Kejriwal did. The ‘soft-Hinduva’ line has been tried earlier by the Congress too but Rahul Gandhi’s temple hopping before the last general elections failed to carry any conviction. Kejriwal, however, has fiercely guarded his Hindu identity. He never visited Shaheen Bagh but expressed some anger at the CAA. Kejriwal was careful not to dip his fingers into the communal pot which was being churned by the BJP.