oppn parties Battle Lines Drawn for Delhi Elections

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  • Citizenship Bill to be tabled in the Lok Sabha today. Heated debate likely
  • Domestic tourism in Kashmir slumps by 87% in August-November period
  • Prime Minister Modi says police must make women feel safe
  • West Indies beat India by 8 wickets in the second T20 at Thiruvananthpuram
  • Rahul Gandhi says the NDA government kept Chidambaram in jail for so many days in order to take revenge
  • Kohli reclaims the top spot in ICC rankings from Steve Smith
  • Cabinet clears the Citizenship Bill. It will be placed in the Lok Sabha in a day or two
  • Hindu Jagran Manch members clash with the police in Kolkata after being refused permission to take out a rally
  • West Bengal Governor Jagdeep Dhankar says important files were sent late to him and his delay in signing them draws criticism from the TMC. It also brings the state assembly to a halt
  • 92,000 BSNL & MTNL employees apply for early retirement taking advantage of the new government offer. It will result in an annual savings of Rs 8.700 cr for the merged entity
  • Dengue deaths multiply in Kolkata even as the CM, Mamata Banerjee, asks the opposition not to politicize the matter
  • Government orders inquiry into the breach of security at Priyanka Vadra's house
  • Chennai-based engineer Shanmuga Subramanian helps Nasa find the pieces of Vikram lander on the Moon's surface
  • New Maharashtra CM Uddhav Thackeray says his administration will take back cases against Dalits and activists in the Bhima Koregaon case
  • Dhawan calls his dismissal "nonsense"
43 killed in a fire at units in illegal building in heart of Delhi
oppn parties
Battle Lines Drawn for Delhi Elections

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2015-01-13 16:56:32

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
With 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.

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. AAPâ€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 partyâ€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 Kejriwalâ€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 â€Å"throwing in the towel” 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 ‘the grand old party.â€â"¢ As of now, what the Congress will end up doing is reducing the AAPâ€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 Modiâ€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.