Arvind Kejriwal’s non-confrontational, pro-governance, post-ideological method has proved spectacularly profitable in an city setting. He has now chosen to step into unfamiliar terrain by straight opposing the Centre’s push in direction of agricultural reforms.
AAP’s rural journey is all of the extra curious, given the direct conflict of pursuits between Kejriwal’s city constituency and rural viewers.
Delhiites desperately need clear air, whereas field-burning by farmers ship up poisonous clouds, smothering the capital. The BJP is sure to ask why, given runaway air air pollution, Kejriwal helps the dilution of the regulation in opposition to field-burning.
Forward of the Delhi municipal elections in 2022, it may nicely snowball into an electoral difficulty, with a current examine attributing 116,000 neonatal deaths in India to poor air high quality — half of them because of PM 2.5 publicity (the primary pollutant from subject burning).
That mentioned, AAP has twice defied the Modi wave, profitable thumping majorities within the Meeting months after the BJP swept all seven Lok Sabha seats within the capital in 2015 and 2020. Its core power lies in its urbanism, which permits it to rise above the politics of caste, class and neighborhood.
The city poor and privileged alike approve of AAP’s concentrate on improvement, welfarism and ease of dwelling. Freebies for the poor, heavy funding in training and well being and doorstep supply of presidency companies, have yielded spectacular electoral dividends for the occasion.
On the similar time, Kejriwal has cannily side-stepped polarising discourses which could have alienated a big part of voters. For essentially the most half, ‘Hanuman-bhakt’ Kejriwal maintained a dignified silence via the Shaheen Bagh protest in opposition to the Citizenship Modification Act (CAA) and even after the North-East Delhi riots.
Shedding its confrontational and ideological method has labored nicely for AAP, enabling voters to see Kejriwal and Modi as supplementary (‘Modi for PM, Arvind for CM’ as an AAP banner famously mentioned) somewhat than oppositional. Kejriwal has been at pains to seem pragmatic and cooperative, somewhat than in his Muffler Man avatar.
However Kejriwal is now clearly irked by AAP’s incapacity to develop past Delhi. Solely in Punjab, one of many extra urbanised states within the nation, was it in a position to make some headway. In 2014, it received an astonishing 4 Lok Sabha seats and a vote share of 24 per cent, however in 2019, it was diminished to at least one seat and seven.four per cent of the favored vote.
AAP supporters in Punjab attribute the occasion’s preliminary success to its ideological neutrality and anti-corruption stance. Each exerted a robust enchantment on an voters that had suffered via essentially the most violent types of id politics. On this situation, Kejriwal’s cardinal error was to hobnob with a former militant, thereby enabling the Congress to label him as pro-Khalistani.
AAP’s efficiency within the subsequent Meeting elections fell far in need of expectations, though it managed to win 20 seats. Thereafter, it has been an inexorable downhill slide. Within the current elections to native our bodies, it was all however worn out.
The purpose being that id politics is a slippery slope. Given its missteps in Punjab, AAP can not afford to be ham-handed in its efforts to garner Jat (and Jat Sikh) votes in Haryana, Punjab and western Uttar Pradesh. Delhi’s middle-class has no stake in, or endurance with, the farmers’ agitation. No matter ‘sons of the soil’ emotional enchantment the protest had, shortly dissipated after the occasions of January 26.
Apart from, the marketing campaign in opposition to the Farm Legal guidelines 2020 has been restricted to western UP and the north-western States. It has had just about no resonance in Purvanchal (japanese UP and Bihar), which accounts for a sizeable chunk of Delhi’s voters.
AAP has efficiently taken on the 2 nationwide events in Delhi, however within the neighbouring states the place it hopes to realize traction, it should cope with identity-based regional forces just like the Akali Dal and the Rashtriya Lok Dal, who follow a type of politics with which it’s unfamiliar.
For Kejriwal, making headway in rural India whereas hanging on to his city base will probably be a fragile balancing act, not fairly so simple as ripping up the Farm Legal guidelines within the Delhi Meeting.