Delhi may not be a full-fledged state, but its political importance is no less than major states. One big reason for this is that its election results very often give a credible report card of the government in New Delhi. In many ways, the political route to New Delhi passes through Delhi. That’s why the upcoming elections for the 70-member Delhi Assembly (voting on February 8, results on February 11) acquire phenomenal importance.
For many decades, Delhi used to be a two-horse race between the Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). But this has changed since 2013 with the advent of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Since then, AAP has straddled the political landscape like a colossus, winning as many as 67 out of 70 seats in the 2015 Assembly elections. Needless to say that AAP’s emergence has been largely at the expense of Congress. For this very reason the Delhi battle this time will be more interesting as the Congress is on an upswing while the BJP is sliding and has lost as many as five states in the past 15 months. AAP could not replicate its 2015 Assembly elections performance in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, indicating a complete dichotomy between state and national level elections as far as Delhi voters are concerned.
AAP has straddled Delhi's political landscape like a colossus, winning as many as 67 out of 70 seats in the 2015 Assembly elections. (Photo: Reuters)
While AAP is widely perceived as a clear favourite in the upcoming elections and may end up winning anywhere between 45 and 50 seats, its main cause of worry is that it finished last in the triangular race in the 2019 LS polls with a vote share of just 18.1 per cent (as against 54.3 per cent in the 2015 Assembly polls).
The Congress vote share swelled from a dismal 9.7 per cent to 22.5 per cent over the same period. The BJP vote share by and large remained the same in past five years — 54.3 per cent in the 2015 Assembly elections and 56.6 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls. It won’t be wrong to say that the outcome of the upcoming election will be largely influenced by how well the Congress performs. Even if it were to repeat its 2019 LS poll performance, it won’t be enough and the party may be successful to open its account this time.
The Grand Old Party cannot hope to ride on its recent glory (Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Jharkhand) and will have to increase its vote share by at least 20 per cent. To achieve this, Congress will need a tsunami in its favour in Delhi, but even a small wave is not in sight. The Congress may have prevented the BJP from retaining power in the abovementioned states, but if the BJP has to be prevented from capturing power in Delhi, the onus will be on AAP, not Congress.
As far as the BJP is concerned, not much has changed for the party in Delhi politically. Last time, the BJP blundered by showcasing maverick cop Kiran Bedi as the party’s chief ministerial candidate and the party ended up with just three seats.
Kejriwal stands out
This time BJP has no CM face. Neither does Congress. This is where AAP scores heavily as its leader and Delhi chief minister, Arvind Kejriwal, is the undisputed supreme leader of the party and the sole CM face. He has also wowed the poor and the lower-middle class people with palpable work in the fields of education and healthcare and making electricity and water available at the cheapest rates in the country.
While BJP and Congress have no CM face, AAP scores heavily as Arvind Kejriwal is the undisputed supreme leader of the party and the sole CM face. (Photo: Reuters)
The BJP’s biggest opportunity in this election will be Citizenship (Amendment) Act, 2019, or CAA, and National Register of Citizens (NRC) issues as well as violence in Jamia Millia Islamia. But then the biggest issue in the Delhi election may prove to be the large-scale violence in Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) on January 5. Despite police presence at the entrance, the goons carrying iron rods and sticks entered and exited as though the JNU campus was a revolving door. The street lights were turned off.
If the BJP has really nothing to do with the JNU violence then PM Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah must ensure in double quick time that Delhi Police go to the bottom of the case. So, it is pertinent to ask the question whether JNU violence is election-oriented.
It has maligned the image of India internationally and that too at a time when the exploits of the ISRO have wowed the world. They project two different Indias. In many ways, the Delhi Assembly poll results on February 11 will decide which of the two Indias has an upper hand!
(Courtesy of Mail Today)