Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Admi Party's (AAP) resounding victory in the high-voltage Delhi Assembly elections will not only change the dynamics of politics in India but could also possibly compel the Narendra Modi-led BJP government to shift its focus back on grassroot governance.
The unprecedented victory of the AAP has led many experts to feel that after BJP's stunning defeat in Delhi polls, the NDA government might claw back its move on reforms and take some populist measures even if they are not of much help for the economy.
For any government, striking a balance between the electorates’ expectations and decisions that would benefit the economy in the long run, always remains a huge challenge. It is the dark side of our political system that opposition parties generally project the ruling side as a villain for the marginal and middle classes, since it takes tough and pragmatic decisions for the betterment of economy in the long run.
In a big democracy like India, which hosts huge diversity both on social and economic front, there has always been a chance of conflict of interests. Any decision taken by the government may not have the same impact on different sections of our society. For example, India Inc continues to press the government to do away with the subsidies and wants cuts in its flagship schemes as it makes fiscal prudence distressing, but the sections who are the supposed beneficiaries of these measures oppose the move.
At present, there is no mechanism available before the government through which it could protect the interest of the marginalised and the poorer sections of the society in the aftermath of any cut in the schemes and subsidy. Is it not a big joke that even after 67 years of our independence a vast section of our society is still dependent on these flagship schemes and subsidy?
Ironically, no government can do anything in a short span of time.
In such a situation, the government needs to continue with these schemes and subsidies till the time it is ready to reduce people's dependency on them by creating more jobs, better infrastructure and improved basic amenities in a phased manner. Till that time, the government can rationalise subsidies and flagship schemes to plug gaps and make the implementation of its various pro-people policies effective.
In a democratic set up, it always remains a big challenge for the ruling party to maintain its 'connect' with the common man. Clearly, no government has a magic wand to change things overnight. Common man’s expectations from any government are not so different from the core idea of governance. It should be the key priority of the government to fulfil the common man's genuine expectations, which are also the fundamental rights of all citizens in a democracy.
The common man largely remains unconcerned about various strong measures taken by the government at the macro-economic level and always relates with the government in terms of the basic amenities, subsidies, sops and other facilities being provided to them. Failing which, it turns its back towards the ruling party and creates the anti-incumbency factor.
A common man's wish list generally includes easy availability of essential commodities at affordable prices, dignified life, corruption free system, basic amenities - like water, electricity, roads, education, housing and health etc. However, it is also true that the priorities of the marginal, lower middle class, urban elite, the minorities etc differ from each other. While the poorest of the poor seeks dignified life, equal opportunity, sense of participation in the political process, apart from cheap rationing and shelter, the minority community wants security and freedom of religion in the first place. Similarly, the corporates want a business-friendly environment.
The demographic condition and the socio-economic factors also determine the priorities of various sections of our society.
However hard the government may try to meet the expectations of the common man, it still fails to satisfy everyone and fulfil their demands. Consequently, the government pays a huge price for failing to meet the common man's expectations and is thrown out of power when the polls come.
What happened in Delhi is a reflection of people's persistent anger against the BJP government, which miserably failed to deliver on many fronts – corruption, inflation, black money etc. All this happened despite several commendable initiatives taken by it in containing the fiscal deficit, improving the business environment, expediting reforms, attracting more investment through FDI and by simplifying the tax regime in the last 9 months.
Lets hope that apart from deliberating on various political factors responsible for its rout in Delhi, the BJP will also assess what went wrong and how it lost its connect with the common man, which rewarded the party with all seven seats in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls.