Delhi was in distant fogged February and was dismissed as pure Capital arrogance for voting in the Aam Aadmi Party 67/70. Nine months later, the Delhi aftertaste is back. Bitter and smarting, for what could have been an easy victory has been spoilt by the sheer and improbable audacity that one convicted neta and his former squeaky clean foe mustered and snatched what was being reported till the very morning of the results as another BJP snap-and-shut trophy.
No, the march from Nagpur to Kolkata will still have to pass through some unfriendly territory in Bihar. Not that Kolkata, where elections will be held in 2016, along with that other presidency town, Chennai, is anywhere near the BJP's trophy potential but as much as the saffron party is averse to bad deals, it will need a few more decades in the opposition benches before forming own coalitions like in Bihar. The wow factor of winning Maharashtra after decades of being junior partner to the Shiv Sena didn't go down well but that's because the duo of Nitish Kumar and Lalu Yadav are not untutored in politics and Nitish brings with him the shine of development. The Shiv Sena chief hasn't had a chance to display his skill in running a government though he did contest an election, the first for a Thackeray.
Biharis and UPwallahs have been at the receiving end of Thackeray jibes. But their leaders, at least in Bihar, had better plans to outsmart the BJP. Prime among them was the Janata Dal United's decision to snare Prashant Kishor, who had scripted the Modi wave, to run the Nitish campaign though there was some talk of mutual respect. Kishor's super skill is to come up with campaigns that strike the power chord with voters, be it development while camouflaging the already hidden agendas and, in the most recent case, clinging on to the campaign bluster of the venerable leadership of the rival party to open its mouth and chew its synthetic chappal since it obviously doesn't wear leather.
But for all those who are downing celebratory non-amrit drinks in taverns that the Janata brothers won, here's a thought: does it take a spinmeister and his magic for the voter to see the merits of secularism, given that the same magician sold development which was dismissed as jumla? Even more dangerous is the fact that the magic is strong on both the educated and the illiterate. So has democracy become another market with the best advice available for the highest bidder to make it work for one's own pet cause that may not necessarily have the country's interests at large?
For the moment, the wave lies spent on the streets of Pataliputra. Why worry if it was democracy that won or slicker marketing on this fine November evening?