AAP breached the high octane campaign launched by BJP. Home minister Amit Shah led the BJP campaign and raked up national issues and the protests against Citizenship Amendment Act in a significant manner, making it a “Shaheen Bagh versus all” contest.
However, Arvind Kejriwal confined his campaign to the achievements of the AAP government in the last five years. He made the BJP’s frontal attack on him as Delhi voters versus BJP.
Finally, AAP emerged victorious and almost repeated its 2015 performance. These are the seven reasons behind Kejriwal’s victory:
Check on private school fee
The Arvind Kejriwal government’s decisions in the education sector has perhaps played the most important role in AAP’s victory.
Most of the families had school-going children in the last five years. The Kejriwal government’s moves touched their life in one way or the other.
In a major public-friendly decision, the AAP government did not allow the 200-odd private unaided schools to arbitrarily hike the fees in the last five years.
The schools even moved the Delhi high court against the government’s decision. The single judge quashed the government’s circular in March last year. The government challenged the order. In a major relief to the parents, the division bench put a stay on the interim fee hike.
While campaigning for the Delhi assembly election, Arvind Kejriwal said on January 19 that his government would continue to check the school fee like they did in the last five years.
In a tweet posted in Hindi, he said, “As long as there is an honest government in Delhi, the parents need not to worry about school fees. No private school in Delhi will be allowed to hike fees arbitrarily. Like the last five years, we will continue to check the fees.”
जब तक दिल्ली में ईमानदार सरकार है, अभिभावकों को चिंता करने की जरूरत नहीं है। दिल्ली के किसी भी प्राइवेट स्कूल को फी… https://t.co/ppG2RpeCRY
— Arvind Kejriwal (@ArvindKejriwal) 1579409028000
The Kejriwal government has even forced schools to roll back fees and return the excess amount to the parents if it found irregularities in fee hike.
Upgradation of government schools
The Kejriwal government has brought unprecedented changes in the government schools – right from infrastructure to teachers’ training to paying more attention on interaction with parents and the education of children. No wonder Kejriwal and deputy chief minister Manish Sisodia, who also holds the portfolio of education minister, have major claims to make.
Kejriwal says, “We have ensured that our government schools are at least as good if not better than the private schools. About 25 per cent of Delhi’s annual budget has been invested in education in the past three-and-a-half years… The budget for the sector is three times more than what it was when we came to power. With these funds, our schools today have world class infrastructure with SMART classes, swimming pools, classroom libraries, moderndesks and better laboratories.”
He claims that several parents had shifted their children from private schools to the government schools. The teachers and school leaders were given opportunities to learn from some of the most prestigious universities across the world, including University of Cambridge, University of Harvard and NIE Singapore, among others.
Sisodia claims that the Delhi’s government schools had outperformed private schools in the CBSE 12 standard examinations.
The AAP manifesto claims to have added 20,000 new classrooms in over 200 government schools in Delhi. All the various governments in Delhi had only built 17,000 classrooms in all these years.
An interesting aspect of the education reforms is the strict implementation of PTM (parents-teacher meeting). Earlier, PTM was only on paper. However, the Kejriwal government implemented it in 2016, giving a sense of pride and satisfaction to the parents who for the first time started getting the feedback of their children’s growth from the teachers.
Free electricity and water
The AAP government gave subsidised electricity to the Delhi residents six months ago. On August 1 last year, Arvind Kejriwal announced 100 per cent subsidy to those who consume up to 200 units of electricity. Consumers of 201-400 units of electricity started receiving approximately 50 per cent subsidy.
“People used to pay Rs 622 for 200 units of electricity till yesterday, now it’s free. For 250 units they used to pay Rs 800, now they’ll pay Rs 252. For 300 units, they used to pay Rs 971, now they’ll pay Rs 526. For 400 units, they used to pay Rs 1320, now they’ll pay Rs 1075,” he added.
Ever since AAP came to power in 2015, it fulfilled its promise of supplying free water upto 20,000 litres per household per month. In December 2017, the Delhi Jal Board hiked water charges for families consuming more than 20,000 liters of water per month. Such families pay Rs 28 per litre extra every month or 85 paise per day. However, for families consuming 20,000 litres, water was kept free of cost.
To offer cheap and quality health facilities to the people, the Kejriwal government had promised to put in place a network of 1,000 mohalla clinics under the neighbourhood health facility scheme. However, it could open only 301 such clinics.
The clinics offer free basic medical care services for common illnesses like fever, diarrhoea, skin problems, respiratory problems, first aid for injuries and burns, dressing of minor wounds and referral services.
While dispensing free medicines and check-ups, it also allows 212 tests by the empanelled laboratories.
Mohalla clinics earned praise globally. World leaders such as former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and former WHO director general Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland hailed the project.
Free DTC bus ride
The Kejriwal government extended free rides in Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) buses from October 29 – more than three months before the assembly election. The bus conductors distribute Rs 10 pink tickets to each woman passenger which allows them to travel for free.
Besides these innovative experiments and subsidies, the Kejriwal government also peddled soft Hindutva in order to wean away a chunk of the BJP’s voters.
Just a day before the voting for 2015 Delhi assembly election, Jama Masjid Iman Syed Ahmed Bukhari appealed to Muslims to vote for AAP. However, Kejriwal’s party declined the offer saying it was against any type of caste and communal politics.
However, Kejriwal did try to woo people on religious lines.
For instance, he has been regularly seen attending iftar events and sporting skull cap.
Further, on July 12, Arvind Kejriwal flagged off the first train under the Mukhyamantri Teerth Yatra (Chief Minister’s Pilgrimage) scheme.
Under the scheme, trains ferry senior citizens to five different routes of religious significance for free. The government bears the entire expenditure, including travel, accommodation, meals and miscellaneous arrangements.
The scheme covers five routes – Delhi-Mathura-Vrindavan-Agra-Fatehpur Sikri-Delhi, Delhi-Haridwar-Rishikesh-Neelkanth-Delhi, Delhi-Ajmer-Pushkar-Delhi, Delhi-Amritsar-Bagha Border-Anandpur Sahib-Delhi and Delhi-Vaishno Devi-Jammu-Delhi.
Besides this, Arvind Kejriwal presented himself as a devotee of Lord Hanuman just a few days before the February 8 assembly election. He sang the Hanuman Chalisa and said it gives him peace of mind.
A day before the voting, Kejriwal visited Hanuman Temple in New Delhi along with his family members and offered prayers. On the voting day, he was seen sporting a tilak on his forehead. He never extended explicit support to the Shaheen Bagh protests against Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA).
Arvind Kejriwal has launched a major makeover of his image in the last couple of years.
Otherwise, he was in constant confrontation mode with the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre and Prime Minister Narendra Modi over one issue or another, especially full statehood to Delhi.
He had called Modi “psychopath and coward” and had expressed apprehension that Modi and home minister Amit Shah would get him killed.
He had strongly opposed the Centre’s actions such as demonetisation. He had also demanded proof of the Indian Army’s surgical strikes in Pak-occupied Kashmir.
For about three years, Arvind Kejriwal kept complaining that Modi was not allowing him to work.
However, suddenly in the last few months, Kejriwal changed tack. The aggression against Modi and Shah became a matter of the past.
Unlike his strong response to issues such as demonetisation and surgical strikes, Kejriwal did not take a strong stand against CAA and NPR.
He did not openly support the Shaheen Bagh protestors. He never visited the protest site.
Kejriwal also sought to strike an emotional chord with the voters when BJP MP Parvesh Verma called him a terrorist.
He narrated how his parents were hurt by that allegation. He asked the voters whether he was their eldest son or a terrorist.
He sought to garner sympathy by discussing his health problems. He said he takes insulin four times a day as he suffers from acute diabetes. However, he undertook 15 days’ hunger strike twice for the country.