आर्गेनाइजर में प्रकाशित आलेख
As the polling date, February 7, is approaching the clouds are disappearing and the public mood is getting clear in Delhi. There is a neck-n-neck fight between the BJP and the AAP. Congress is a non-entity in this election. The AAP banks upon the allegations, mostly baseless, against its opponents, while the BJP concentrates on its development agenda as well as the booth-level management. The ‘Panna Pramukh’ (Man to Man Marking) initiative by BJP may prove to be a big hit in Delhi too.
With Delhi election around the corner, the fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its toughest competitor Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has heated up, taking it to a level of cut-throat contest.
There is a stark difference between the Delhi Assembly election 2013 and 2015. In 2013, the contest was more against the Sheila Dikshit’s government. There was a massive anger against the Congress government, and the newly formed Aam Aadmi Party used the public anger in its favour and got 28 seats.
But, now in 2015, the situation is different. The Congress has virtually decimated to a non-entity and simultaneously the BJP has emerged as a ‘serial winner’. It won the General Election 2014 with a landslide victory. Prior to that the BJP won and formed governments in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan. Then post-General Election, the BJP also formed its government in Haryana and Maharashtra. Thanks to the ‘Modi-wave’ – that ensured so many wins.
For AAP it’s no more a cake-walk. The AAP had been at the centre of immense criticism for quitting Delhi Government after 49 days. There has been erosion in AAP’s popularity amongst the middle-class that voted the AAP to power, as the voters’ felt cheated by the decision of AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal and this earned the later the title of Bhagoda (Man who runs away). AAP is trying hard for a comeback, which won’t be an easy task for Kejriwal, who without thinking twice, went to Varanasi and challenged Narendra Modi for the post of Prime Minister.
If this has made AAP’s task difficult, the BJP is neither in a comfortable ground at present. The top BJP leadership after receiving adverse feedback from field against the Delhi BJP, inducted Kiran Bedi and projected her as BJP’s Chief Ministerial nominee. “Kiran Bedi’s induction will definitely act positive for the BJP, as a large chunk of Punjabi votes would come to the party. Moreover, considering her previous work as a police officer in Delhi and decaying law and order situation at present, and rising crime against women, a big number of votes of women would go to her,” says Shri Jagdish Upasane, senior journalist and political commentator.
Despite having resentment among a section within the State unit after Bedi was named as CM nominee, the campaigning has taken to a top gear in the BJP and the party leadership has recalibrated its poll strategy.
Political analyst Naveen Kumar says, “Kiran Bedi has been a perfect choice to counter Arvind Kejriwal, because she’s also from the same India Against Corruption movement, in which Kejriwal was her associate.”
Meanwhile, the AAP through its constant field work and ‘anti-establishment’ rhetoric has managed to reclaim a large portion of its lost ground. After facing a heavy loss in the General Election, and also in the recent held Delhi Cantonment Board polls a large number of volunteers and some prominent members left AAP. But, now the party has been able rejuvenate its cadre, which has made its strong presence up to the booth-level.
The AAP is expected to gain from the pockets like slum-dwellers, resettlement colonies, a section of the lower-middle class and minorities (especially Muslims), a considerable chunk of urban youth especially those either involved with NGOs or harbour Left or Ultra-Left ideology.
But, again there has been a steady erosion in AAP’s popularity among the middle-class voters that it had enjoyed in 2013. Kejriwal’s tall claims like “Modi will lose from Varanasi” and braggadocio didn’t go down well with the middle-class and urban upper middle-class voters. Instead, it’s Modi’s development agenda that has made a stronger appeal among the segment.
The rural segment of Delhi had been an Achilles Heel for the Aam Aadmi Party during the last Assembly election in 2013, as the party failed to win a single seat from villages. It may not be such an easy task for AAP this time too for the party that is desperately trying to make a comeback as the outlying rural areas of Delhi are dominated by the BJP. In the 2013 election, out of 18 rural seats with maximum concentration of villages, the BJP had bagged 17 and one was won by an independent candidate. Similarly, out of 28 semi-urban and semi-rural (rural-urban, also known as Rurban) seats, 23 had gone to the BJP.
Rejigging of its poll strategy, no doubt, will give boost to BJP’s campaigning. Apart from star-power, the party will deploy its man-power to win over voters during this last league of campaigning. As per the new strategy of the BJP, 20 ministers, 120 Member of Parliaments and prominent ministers and leaders from different states have been roped in to hold 150 rallies across Delhi.
“By bringing the ministers in the campaign, the party will able to redress the existing grievances of its workers as well as give a big push to the last leg of BJP’s campaigning. Once the PM makes his appearance, it’ll definitely bring a sea change to the present situation,” opines Shri Upasane, former editor of India Today (Hindi).
However, in this age of social networking and social media, the BJP, which otherwise have proved to be highly active on this medium due to Modi, needs to take care of it, ensuring lesser negative comments by its leaders on Twitter or Facebook.
“BJP is steadily gaining ground and its renewed strategy will compensate the lacunae it had in recent past. But, the party has to take care of the comments made by its leaders on Facebook and Twitter. The Delhi BJP leaders must follow the path of Narendra Modi’s positive, non-critical campaigning based on development agenda like he did in Varanasi,” says Chartered Accountant Abhishek Aneja.
No doubt Delhiites are eagerly waiting for the Modi magic to work. The analysts feel that the US President Barack Obama’s three-day India visit and the developments happened on India’s strategic and trade fronts would go in favour of BJP in Delhi election.
“Once the PM makes his entry into poll campaign, whatever shortcomings BJP has at present will get covered. The Modi-wave will give a big push to the BJP’s winnability factor and help in wooing voters,” adds Kumar, who’s also vice president, Viplav Communications (P) Ltd.
Adds a Patel Nagar-based trader RK Sahni, “AAP emerged as a good party and working hard, but people would like to vote for the BJP because it’s a party with a solid foundation. With a visionary leader like Narendra Modi at the top, once he campaigns in Delhi, the poll arithmetic will definitely change and go in favour of BJP.” —Delhi Bureau