The front pages of Indian dailies punned on the party’s name and symbol and also referred to the BJP’s divisive campaign in the run up to the polls.
The political drama in Delhi was the focus of all newspapers on Wednesday morning, a day after the Aam Aadmi Party beat the Bharatiya Janata Party to easily gain a third term in the national capital.
The results of the state elections saw the Aam Aadmi Party winning a whopping 62 out of 70 seats in Delhi, leaving the BJP in single digits. Arvind Kejriwal will remain Delhi’s chief minister. From the three seats it won in 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party only managed to bag eight this time, despite a high-octane campaign. While the AAP’s vote share decreased marginally from 2015 to 53.57 per cent, the Bharatiya Janata Party’s vote share grew from 32pc to 38.51pc.
The Congress repeated its dismal performance from the 2015 elections, winning no seats at all. Its vote share fell further, sinking below 5pc. As many as 63 Congress candidates lost their deposits.
Newspapers in several languages came up with clever puns on the name Kejriwal, the party AAP as well as its election symbol of a broomstick to use as headlines and other elements on their front pages. They also made references to the campaign slogans by the BJP, which were often described as hate speech.
The Times of India ran with the headline "AAP Proves It’s Bullet-Proof In Delhi". It called Kejriwal’s victory a "landslide" and also referred to the "bitterly contested" election campaign. "Rarely has an election to a small state assembly of 70 seats generated as much nationwide interest," it said.
The headline referred to BJP leader and Union minister Anurag Thakur. He addressed a meeting on January 27 at which he led the crowd in chant demanding that "traitors of the nation" should be shot. "Goli maaron saalon ko," he had said. Thakur was banned from campaigning for three days but returned to the campaign immediately afterwards.
The front page also used visuals to show statistics of the new House — it is older than the previous one as the average age is 48.8 years, it’s is richer with average assets of Rs14.3 crore, it is slightly less educated as only 60pc are graduates or above, it has more criminal cases (61.4pc) and also has more women (11.4pc).
The Hindu used the headline 'AAP sweeps Delhi with 62 seats, BJP trounced' and also mentioned the vote shares of the two parties as well as the Congress’ poor performance on its front page. The newspaper also pointed out that "politics of hatred" was rejected and used West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s statement to show that this election was a "referendum on BJP politics".
The BJP had attempted to portray the Delhi elections as a referendum on the ongoing protests, particularly at Shaheen Bagh, which has emerged as the epicentre of protests against the Citizenship Act.
"Kejri wali Dilli", Hindustan Times screamed on its front page, indicating that Delhi was Arvind Kejriwal’s. It punned on the party’s name to say it was Aam Aadmi’s Power that led others to "bite the dust" as AAP swept the city-state again.
Kejriwal has turned "from disruptor to consummate political player", the newspaper said, adding that his politics has changed repeatedly and that he has now become smarter about playing politics. The daily added that the five things that worked for the Aam Aadmi Party were its leadership, its welfare schemes, its clean campaign, its volunteers and its outreach.
The Telegraph used the headline "Currentjriwal" to remind its readers of Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s plea to voters: "Press the button with such anger that the current is felt at Shaheen Bagh".
"Your vote to the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate will make Delhi and the country safe and prevent thousands of incidents like Shaheen Bagh," Shah had claimed at the rally in Babarpur in January. A few days earlier, at a rally at the Jawaharlal Nehru Stadium, Shah had made similar comments, asking voters to "push the button with such force that the current makes the Shaheen Bagh protestors leave on February 8".
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s Braham Singh lost by over 70,000 votes in Okhla, the constituency under which Shaheen Bagh falls, to Aam Aadmi Party’s Amanatullah Khan.
"Delhi presses button so hard that Shah-Modi, not Shaheen, feel the current," The Telegraph said, along with caricatures of the home minister and prime minister. It described the results as a "crushing defeat of hate".
The Indian Express used the headline "Delhivered" and prominently displayed Kejriwal’s statement to voters soon after the results started trickling in. "You people have done wonders," he said on Tuesday afternoon. "I love you."
The newspaper also highlighted the "goli maaro" and "Shaheen Bagh current" statements and said BJP’s hard ideological push was getting diminishing returns in states.
The headline of the front page of vernacular newspaper Hindustan said "Kejriwal ne phir jhadu firayi" or "Kejriwal has once again swept the broom" and his magic. The daily also listed five reasons each for AAP’s victory and BJP’s loss.
Hindi daily Dainik Jagran’s headline read "Phir AAP ki hui Delhi (Delhi belongs to AAP once again)". It listed AAP’s strength, BJP’s weaknesses and the reasons for Congress’ drubbing.
Another Hindi daily, Navbharat Times, linked the election with Valentine’s week. Its headline read: "Tisri baar mila Delhi ka pyaar, Valentine week mein Kejriwal bole, I love you". Right in the middle of its front page, the daily carried a heart-shaped sign with the picture of the AAP leader.
Bengali newspaper Anandabazaar Patrika’s headline tried to pun with the word "desh". Its headline read "deshdrohi" but the word desh here refers to revenge/jealousy.
The newspaper dedicated a single column to Amanatullah Khan’s victory from Okhla Assembly constituency. In that column, the daily said Union Home Minister Amit Shah’s divisive campaign alone was responsible for Khan’s massive victory margin.
Marathi daily Loksatta’s front page headline said: "AAP again, BJP washed away". The accompanying report claimed that Delhi voters had single-mindedly voted for politics of development, and that the BJP remained in single digits despite putting all its might behind the election campaign.
Saamana, a Marathi newspaper run by the Shiv Sena, declared the win for "Bharat Mata" in a headline that said, "BJP forced down, Kejriwal in Delhi!".
The tagline played on a popular Hindi film song to say "tera jhadu chal gaya" — your broom worked — a reference to the Aam Aadmi Party’s symbol. In an editorial accompanying the lead report, Saamana claimed that Delhi voters had shattered the BJP’s delusion of nationalism. The Shiv Sena had broken its long-held alliance with the BJP in Maharashtra after the state’s election in 2019.
Header image courtesy Boom Live
This article originally appeared on Scroll.in and has been reproduced with permission.