THE WINNING EDGE
The Aam Aadmi Party has redefined the words majority, as Delhi voters have given them an assembly with virtually no opposition, having won 67 of Delhi’s 70 seats. The massive victory for AAP in Delhi does not only indicate very strong electoral support for the AAP; but it also reflects the huge faith that the people of Delhi have reposed in this new party and its relatively new leader, Arvind Kejriwal. The man who was blamed for running away without delivering what he had promised to the people, has led the party not just to victory but to a stunning victory in Delhi.
Hardly has there been an occasion in Indian politics when a party has registered such a massive victory. It was only in Sikkim, when the ruling Sikkim Democratic Front (SDF) managed to win all the 32 seats in the Assembly, twice in
1989 and 2009 and only one less during the 2004 Assembly elections. There have been a few other big victories by regional parties in different States, but nothing when compared to the victory of the AAP where it has won 67 of the 70 Assembly seats. The country has witnessed the 1977 Janata wave, the 1984 Rajiv Gandhi wave, the 1989 V.P. Singh wave, and this election certainly goes into the history of Indian elections as yet another election wave, namely “Kejriwal wave” in Delhi.
Another historical note (as a coincident) is that the 46-year-old former IRS officer, Mr Arvind Kejriwal has taken oath as Delhi’s Chief Minister at the Ramlila grounds on February 14 and it was on February 14 last year that he had resigned after 49 tumultuous days as Delhi chief minister.
The Vidhan Sabha elections 2015 result has showcased a positive vote for the AAP rather than a negative one for the BJP or Narendra Modi. Had this been a negative vote for the BJP, the AAP may not have managed to register such a massive victory. While almost all parties promised to provide electricity and water supply at reduced rates, and greater security for women, in reality, the entire election turned into a referendum on the AAP’s chief ministerial candidate, Arvind Kejriwal, and the AAP managed to benefit by projecting itself from this phenomenon. The popularity of Mr. Kejriwal was much higher when compared to any other leader. And to top that the negative campaign of the BJP against Kejriwal damaged the party to a great extent as the AAP remained largely positive in its advertising campaign and only explained the benefits they are going to provide the Delhites.
This election seems to have witnessed the sharpest class divide among Delhi’s voters . The poor, which used to give large support to Congress, have shifted their entire support base to the AAP. The Muslim vote, which remained divided between the Congress and the AAP during the 2013 Assembly elections, seems to have shifted in favour of the AAP in a big way. Like in many other States, the Congress has lost its Muslim support even in Delhi.
The BJP has registered a nightmare result. It could manage only three seats; its chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi lost from a BJP safe seat. Nine months ago, the party had swept the capital’s seven Lok Sabha seats and was the single largest party in assembly elections held in
December 2013 with 31 seats.
The advertising campaign and the tools used played a key role in the Aam Aadmi Party’s unprecedented election victory in Delhi. While sources say the BJP spent close to Rs 60 crore on advertising during the assembly election, the AAP got a bigger bang for much less through its campaign that comprised radio and outdoor advertising and lots of social media activities.
While BJP’s campaign was planned by professional firms Madison Media and Soho Square, AAP didn’t hire any agencies for advertising, public relations or any other form of communication and used an in-house team to craft its messages, and banked on its volunteers to execute the communication strategy.
Radio was the driving factor in this assembly election. According to a top executive of a private FM channel, the BJP, AAP and Congress spent Rs 12-15 crore on radio. “The AAP spent Rs 3.5 crore, BJP spent Rs 7.5 crore and Congress spent Rs 1.5 crore.
The party formed a Delhi Election Campaign Group back in October, which had Arvind Kejriwal, Manish Sisodia, Dilip Pandey, Sanjay Singh, Gopal Rai and 10 others as members. It drew support from celebrities such as actor Gul Panag, who did a motorcycle campaign in
the national capital, and music composer Vishal Dadlani, who composed its theme song ’5 Saal Kejriwal’, which was also the punch line for the advertising campaign.
AAP’s Pandey said the party crowd sourced ideas from its Delhi Dialogues, but every part of the campaign was done in-house. It claims to have purchased airtime for radio spots in advance, even before the election dates were announced.
According to the AAP, the focus was majorly on radio campaign. The scripts for the radio spots were written by its members. “Even the recording of radio ads was done by the party members. Some of those ads were recorded on our phones. It was a zero-productioncost campaign,” Pandey added.
Hari Krishnan, managing director of Zenith Optimedia, said the AAP used radio very cleverly so that people didn’t miss the messaging. “If there was a commercial break going on, on one station with an advertisement of AAP, the other channel also had a spot for AAP so that whichever channel the listener switches to, there is an AAP spot,” he said.
While all these factors together resulted in the massive win, Mr Kejriwal, himself was in a fuzz to see the tremendous love and support of people just after the results were announced.
“We will always walk the path of truth,” Mr Kejriwal said, in his first addressal after winning, to loud cheers, adding, “It is very scary, the kind of support the people of Delhi have given us.”
The real test has begun now as now in next five years, Kejriwal will have to justify the trust of all his voters and supporters by delivering more than he has committed.