By: Shreyas Sardesai & Vibha Attri
The fault-lines of class have proved a bigger factor in determining voter preferences than the divisions of caste. While caste is not the big story of this election, it is nonetheless important to emphasise that the AAP’s voter base now cuts across the caste and community divide, something it had been unable to fully achieve on its electoral debut. The party has not only consolidated on inroads it had made into the vote bases of the Congress and the BJP in 2013 but also found support from sections who had stayed away from it.
CSDS’s post-poll survey shows that a coalition of the marginalised — lower castes, religious minorities, some sections of upper castes — rallied around the AAP. Among OBCs, Dalits, Muslims, Sikhs and Punjabi Khatris, the AAP notched up a vote share of over 50 per cent. Its Dalit base has been growing since 2013 and this election has seen it secure nearly seven of 10 Dalit votes. This coalescing came despite the BJP’s aggressive efforts to woo Dalits by inducting SC leaders from other parties and holding multiple Dalit meets.
The OBC communities, too, voted overwhelmingly for the AAP. Traditionally the backbone of the Congress’s base (along with Muslims and Dalits) in Delhi, they switched over to the AAP in 2013. Even in the Lok Sabha election of 2014, these were the only communities apart from the Dalits and Muslims among whom the AAP did well despite the so-called “Modi wave”.
As far as the upper castes are concerned, the desertion of Punjabi Khatris seems to be one of the main reasons that contributed to the BJP’s rout. Once considered core voters of the BJP, they voted for the AAP in large numbers in 2013 but went back to the BJP in 2014. They have now returned to AAP (52 per cent) despite Kiran Bedi, a Punjabi, being the BJP’s CM candidate. Among the Rajput community, too, the BJP could not retain its edge over the AAP. It is only among Brahmins, Banias and Jats that the BJP was ahead , but here too the AAP share went up considerably compared to the previous two elections.
With so many traditional Congress and BJP voters within its fold, the AAP’s social base has become all encompassing and extremely diverse. It is now the new catch-all umbrella party of Delhi, at least for the time being.
The authors are associated with Lokniti, CSDS