Delhi seemed to have walked into some parallel political universe. The A.A.P., which had been expected, at best, to win six or seven of the seventy seats in Delhi’s state assembly, won twenty-eight. The B.J.P. took thirty-one seats—five short of the majority needed to form the government—and the Congress was crushed, reduced to eight seats. There was more bad news for the Congress: it lost to the B.J.P. in three other states whose results were announced on Sunday. It’s hard to say whether this drubbing represents bad news or very bad news for the Congress in next year’s national elections, which they are largely expected to lose. But the wider results were almost eclipsed by the shocking upset in Delhi, which may have even more profound implications for the future of politics in India.
In September, I wrote about Arvind Kejriwal, the Aam Aadmi Party’s founder and insurgent-in-chief. Kejriwal had been an income-tax officer until 2006, and he became infuriated by the deep dysfunction of Indian governance. The aam aadmi (common man) was being ill-served, he thought, by politicians who broke laws with impunity, and by bureaucrats who demanded bribes to provide the most basic services. Kejriwal quit his job to become an activist, orchestrating a series of telegenic protests in 2010 and 2011, years that were ripe with corruption in government. When he realized that his activism had reached its limits, Kejriwal launched his own party, railing against multi-billion-dollar scams and attacking the Congress and the B.J.P. for their complicity in each others’ abuses of power.
Having announced that his party would contest the state elections in Delhi, Kejriwal did not set his sights low. “We have to win Delhi,” he told me back in February. At the time, I thought that this was sweet but brazen, considering his party was a ragtag bunch of underfunded political novices.
Read More | “An Insurgent Prevails in Delhi” | Samanth Subramanian | New Yorker