Church hails AAP winning Delhi election

Clerics welcome result as a victory for those who believe in a secular and diverse India
Church hails AAP winning Delhi election

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal (center), Archbishop Peter Machado (left) and Archbishop Anil Couto attend the All India Catholic Union centenary celebrations in New Delhi on Aug. 24, 2019. (Photo by Bijay Kumar Minj/UCA News)

Church leaders and activists in India’s national capital have joined fellow citizens to celebrate the legislative assembly election result as a resounding victory for secularism and diversity.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) won a third term in Delhi by securing 62 of the 70 assembly seats, it was announced on Feb. 11.

“We should all welcome and celebrate this verdict because it is the voice of the people who believe in secularism and equality rather than hate politics,” Father Savarimuthu Sankar, spokesman of Delhi Archdiocese, told UCA News.

The federal government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pro-Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), AAP’s chief rival, came second winning just eight seats. The grand old Congress party failed to win even a single seat. 

The BJP government speaks about ‘together with all, development for all, the trust of all,’ but unfortunately it practises hate politics in the name of caste, creed and religion, Father Sankar said.

“People here in the national capital know that the politicians only play divide-and-rule politics, they know who has kept their promise, so they voted for that party — a party which believes in development rather than false promises.”

Father Sankar said people now speak of India becoming a superpower as they choose leaders who work for all without discrimination.

The priest added that while the AAP has termed it a victory of “good governance,” the opposition sees it as an outcome of freebies announced by the AAP.

A new kind of politics has emerged from the Delhi assembly polls, with people rewarding the party which built schools, hospitals and provided cheap electricity, said AAP leader and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, hailing his party’s landslide win as a victory for India.

“It is a victory for the people of Delhi who considered me their son. May God give us more strength to serve the people of Delhi,” said Kejriwal.

The Feb. 8 election saw 62.59 percent of the city’s voters come out to exercise their democratic right. The voter turnout in the previous assembly election in 2015 stood at 67.5 percent.

Influential demographics

The AAP is barely nine years old but has developed the street smarts essential for crafting success in the melting pot of the national capital.

However, APP’s current 62-seat remains five seats short of its unprecedented tally in 2015, when BJP could wine only three seats.

The BJP put up a spirited fight in an attempt to win back Delhi state assembly, which it last controlled some two decades ago. However, the BJP could not improve its position only slightly, winning five more seats than it won in 2015.

The BJP’s hard sell of nationalism via the controversial citizenship bill and targeting the Muslims-led protests against it in Shaheen Bagh area only helped to send Muslim voters to the AAP, even from the Congress party.

The most dismal performance was that of Congress. The party tried desperately to create a counter to the citizenship bill and woo its way to power. In a repeat of its disastrous performance in 2015, the party, which had ruled Delhi for three consecutive terms from 1998 to 2013, lost all seats, coming a distant third in all seats.

Perhaps the most important factor that helped the AAP was its chief ministerial face, Arvind Kejriwal — something that the two other parties could not match.

“As a cosmopolitan city, Delhi’s assembly result is considered the voice of India and other political parties should take note of the results,” Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, former secretary-general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, told UCA News.

“The verdict shows that the proud tradition of secularism still exists in our country and there is no weight in communal politics.”

“I take a pride in congratulating Arvind on his resounding success against the unhealthy environment created by the ruling party in the center,” said A.C. Michael, a former member of Delhi Minorities Commission.

“At the same time, in his last government, Christians did not get representation either in his cabinet or in any of the select or advisory committees. Hopefully, this time he will consider them

“Another major decision pending with his government is the establishment of an exhibition center on the life of Jesus Christ, which the Congress government had recommended to the lieutenant governor in 2012," Michael said.

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