Our media has been going gaga over the last several months positioning the upcoming Lok Sabha election as some kind of “beauty contest” between Rahul Gandhi and Narendra Modi. With the Congress party receiving a drubbing in the recent assembly polls, Rahul Gandhi’s leadership is being questioned by one and all. Meanwhile, the AAP after its electoral success in Delhi, has now captured the imagination of the media. Slowly but surely, the media appears to be re-positioning its discussions now around “Kejriwal vs. Modi” battle for the Lok Sabha.
The AAP supporters look at this with dreamy, optimistic eyes. The BJP fans look at this with a mixture of fear and frustration – “The AAP will not let the BJP come to power, nor can they come to power on their own. They might just end up helping the Congress. Why don’t they wait till 2019 and join hands with BJP this time around to fight the Congress?” The Congress party appears to be in a soul searching mode after its recent defeats in the assembly elections and, at present, views this with a mixture of concern and despondency.
Despite the media’s self-serving desire to rake up its TRPs by debating non-existent personality battles, if the Delhi elections are any indication, the upcoming Lok Sabha polls are not going to be based on personalities but on “bread and butter” issues that affects the aam aadmi across the country. Arvind Kejriwal, during the Delhi campaign, repeatedly said in many of his speeches, “People flock to help the AAP not because they love the AAP or love Arvind Kejriwal. They are here because they love this country. The idea is for all of us to come together to solve the problems of this country.” Contrast this with the BJP’s hero worship of Modi as “the man with all the answers” and his own talk about how “hunky-dory” things are in Gujarat.
What the AAP has going for it is its straight-forward, simplistic message – one based on honesty, integrity and probity in public life with a zero-tolerance towards corruption, plus a focus on everyday issues such as water, electricity, public education and health, women’s safety – that has won the hearts of Delhi-ites and more than perked the curiosity of many all over India. With the victory in Delhi, the AAP’s powerful message has already started to resonate with the people across the country.
In 1963, when Martin Luther King gave his “I have a dream” speech, a million people from all across the US travelled to Washington. In those days, there was no email, SMS, Internet, social media or any such mechanisms that we have today to spread the word. Yet, people flocked to the event in droves. They did so because they deeply believed in Martin Luther King’s message of ending segregation. There is no doubt that he was a dynamic and moving speaker, but it was the power, honesty and appeal behind his message that drew people to the cause.