A new Kejriwal
1 Arvind Kejriwal had undergone a drastic transformation — from activist, to sutradhaar of the anti-corruption movement, to the perpetual finger-pointer, to a 49-day tumultuous stint as CM and finally, the subtler version of him that Delhi saw this election. He avoided personal attacks against the BJP and its chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi and interacted freely with the media — even starring in The Viral Fever’s spoof on him.
Lokpal, Swaraj can wait
2 In 2013, AAP had promised to cut power tariffs by half and to supply 700 litres of free water per day. These two issues continued to hold top priority this time, even as AAP pushed Lokpal and Swaraj Bills to the backseat. As a senior leader said, “Lokpal and Swaraj are still important, but we realised that unless we were in power, there was little we could do.”
Return of the volunteers
3 The AAP volunteers of 2013, who had helped the party to 28 last time, played as big a role this time — whether it was tapping voters, spreading the party’s word, helping arrange jan sabhas or, finally, guarding the EVMs.
Narrowing the focus
4 Apprehensive that its hasty decision to step down after 49 days may have cost it middle-class and upper-middle-class votes, the AAP assiduously wooed the urban poor and focused on Delhi’s rural seats. AAP had failed to win a single rural seat in 2013.
5 Last time, tickets were given to fresh entrants and community considerations were deliberately avoided. Not this time. At least 17 of its contestants were those who had earlier fought on other party tickets. Criminal backgrounds were left “open to interpretation”, while getting community votes was considered an asset.
Change in tack
6 AAP realised early on that Delhi was upset with his abrupt resignation in 2013. So while they initially defended the move, the party changed tack and decided to apologise. At every speech this election, Kejriwal would say, “We made a mistake, didn’t commit a crime. Insaan hai, galti ho jaati hai (It’s human to make mistakes).”
7 The Delhi Dialgoues, a campaign that spanned over four months, included teams set up to look at theme-based issues such as education, health and sanitation as well as Delhi’s villages.
Taking everyone along
8 AAP realised early on that it can’t be seen as a party that panders to or identifies with one community while alienating the other. The clearest sign of AAP’s refusal to be identified with minority politics was Kejriwal’s rejection of Imam Bukhari’s offer of support.
Social media slugfest
9 The AAP’s social media team beat the BJP at its game. After the BJP’s online team portrayed Bedi as ‘Iron Lady’ and ‘Crane Bedi’, AAP’s online army responded by posting videos of Bedi seemingly walking away from an interview on Times Now and started the hashtag “I-run-lady”. AAP also turned BJP’s ad campaign targeting Kejriwal on its head, demanding an apology for its “casteist ad” that referred to his “upadravi gotra”. He said BJP had offended the entire “baniya” community (of which he is a part), a masterstroke considering the community traditionally votes for the BJP.
Turning disadvantage into strength
10 For the first 48 hours after the BJP announced Bedi as its CM candidate, the AAP went on the backfoot. But it regrouped with a winning strategy. Instead of attacking her personally, they talked of how the BJP had shown nervousness by not getting Bedi to fight Kejriwal. “We could now say the BJP was afraid,” said an AAP leader.