‘Campaigning for the city: Emergent ideas of urbanity, political participation, and the political campaign in Delhi’

In February 2020, a few weeks before the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in India, Delhi emerged from a tense, closely-fought election for state government. The incumbent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) received a massive mandate. This electoral victory came on the back of fraught campaigns run by the AAP and its primary competitors in the city- the BJP and the Congress. Each party’s campaign reimagined the city and its rightful residents in different ways. In particular, I explore the AAP’s 2020 state election campaign in Delhi, through the materials produced and circulated, as also in conversation with ordinary city residents who worked for the campaign to ask: how urban political participation was (re)imagined in the party’s campaign? Does such participation situate the campaign as a site for reframing ‘legitimate’ urbanity? What might this tell us about popular imaginations of who belongs to modern Delhi, and who the city, in turn, belongs to?