Battle Lines Drawn for Delhi ElectionsWith the Election Commission having announced that the elections to the Delhi assembly will be held on February 7, the capital is going to see a heated battle before the budget session of parliament. Essentially, it will be a battle between the BJP and the AAP, for the Congress, despite its decision to go ahead with Ajay Maken as the face of the party, has lost ground irretrievably in the NCR for the time being, although there are indications that voters dissatisfied with AAP and not wanting to vote for BJP might give the party an increased share of votes without those translating into seats.
By Sunil Garodia
The BJP has reasons to be upbeat as it has done well in the Delhi Cantonment Board elections. Although candidates backed by it won just 5 seats, which was down one seat from earlier, there was a sharp fall in the voting percentage of AAP, with Congress weaning away many voters. AAPÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬Ã¢"Â¢s vote share dipped nearly 15%. Although Cantonment area is too small to be representative of the wider NCR, but it gives a peek that the middle class is solidly behind the BJP. In the coming days, with Modi and other BJP stalwarts slated to hold rallies, the partyÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬Ã¢"Â¢s percentage might rise.
There are two reasons for this. One, there is no incumbent government this time for Kejriwal to rail against. Two, his bhagoda image is going to haunt him and will be a major hindrance in the party doing well. Although the AAP is saying that they are equally well versed in good governance and dharnas, the people will remember only the dharnas as Kejriwal showed little governance, let alone good governance, in his 49 day misadventure last time around.
The BJP is sure to play on this. It is sure to ask the Delhiites not to elect someone who may ditch them again. Despite KejriwalÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬Ã¢"Â¢s appeals to the upwardly mobile professional, the jhuggi-jhopdiwalas and the minorities (remember how he visited Muslim clerics before the last elections to drum up support), the AAP does not have a loyal base of supporters in the true sense. Those who voted for it last time around wished for a better government. They got a 49 day period of anarchy, where the CM sat on dharnas on the one hand and told agitating government employees that issues could not be solved on the streets. Talk of double standards!
The Congress, on the other hand, has talked about supporting the AAP. This has been construed as ÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬Ã "throwing in the towelÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬ÃÂ by the very party it seeks to support. AAP spokesmen have said that the Congress has already conceded defeat. Ideally, if the Congress intended to support AAP, it should have entered into an alliance with it and should have contested only 7/8 seats. That would have made all contests straight. But that would have been to hard a pill to swallow for ÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬ÃÅthe grand old party.ÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬Ã¢"Â¢ As of now, what the Congress will end up doing is reducing the AAPÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬Ã¢"Â¢s vote share and that is going to benefit the BJP.
The BJP, on its part, is going to showcase whatever little it has achieved in the last 8 months. Along with this, it is going to unleash its full star power for campaigning in the state. The only worry for the party is the minority vote. After ghar wapasi and love jihad, as also the rabid comments of the Sangh parivar leaders, Muslims have become wary of ModiÃÂ¢Ã¢âÂ¬Ã¢"Â¢s inclusive growth agenda, which they think is being hijacked by the Hindutva votaries. The opposition is also going to project the BJP government as being pro-rich, to get the jhuggi-jhopdi votes. But if the middle class rallies solidly behind the party, it can hope to get a majority this time.