BJP vs AAP: In Delhi's Kurukshetra, the voter might prove no man is invincible

Clash of parties as D Day nears

The Bharatiya Janata Party faces a scenario where if it loses in Delhi then the party much like the Congress may have to go back to the strategy table and weigh ways and means to win back lost ground. Over the past few months or more from a 71 per cent national presence, the BJP has seen a steady downslide to just 40 per cent of presence nationally. The last setback in Maharashtra for the BJP had kept Amit Shah and PM Narendra Modi out of the scene but that gave the political top brass of the BJP tense phases.

Reduced to just 40% of the national landscape, BJP could slide down even further in the map of politics if Delhi slips past their hands. With things not looking as rosy as 2017, BJP rides a roller coaster of political triumphs and defeats for a half a decade. Starting from holding power in seven state assemblies in 2014 to a staggering 21 by 2018, the BJP saw the Modi juggernaut cross an array of hurdles over the course of time.

While Shah and Modi captured the mind of the voter the Modi and Shah combine got a saffron hue covering the Indian landscape. Unlike what looked like a heady mix of blues and greys with a splash of saffron. By 2018 things had changed.

In scenes of a tectonic shift, from seven in 2014 to 13 in 2015, 15 in 2016, 19 in 2017 and then 21 in 2018 things were going smooth. Until life changed.

When BJP entered the national scene at the Centre -in 2014, BJP ruled over Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, Goa and Arunachal Pradesh – directly or with alliance partners. By September 2018, only states BJP did not rule were Tamil Nadu (AIADMK), Kerala (LDF), Karnataka (Congress), Mizoram (Congress), Punjab (Congress), Odisha (BJD), West Bengal (Trinamool Congress) and Telangana (TRS).

While it made a dent in states like Mizoram, bastions like Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh gradually slipped out of hand. Eventually allies like TDP broke off, taking Andhra out of BJP-led NDA’s hands. Jammu and Kashmir was lost to President’s Rule.

Despite a resunding comeback, the political scene remained unfavourable for the BJP at the state level testing the BJP. If BJP’s BS Yediyurappa managed a coup in Karnataka ,similar scenes were noticed in Maharashtra where the BJP faced humiliation.

Reduced to 17 states, the BJO much like others waits for results. As Delhi voted with a hint that Arvind Kejrwal might once again get the mandate to rule the capital, everyone is desperate to know what is Delhi Ka Dil beating for. Through public meetings, rallies and road shows, political parties have tried to get into the heart of the common folk. The manifesto of Congress, BJP and Aam Aadmi Party have the same things, the difference is just in the wordage. Delhi has always been a city that knows facts and is known to be a practical voter. The voters here take decisions only after deliberation. Delhi is the representative city of the country, so the representative here will be special as well as the government.

Arvind Kejriwal has told the voters of Delhi in a very emotional manner that ultimately the son will work for Delhi. The question arises whether Arvind Kejriwal is a native of Delhi or not, he comes from Haryana. The leaders who are making such appeals to the residents of Delhi are also probably not native to Delhi.

Delhi is the heart of the country and not only the country, people from outside the country also reside here. Even though Delhi is the capital of the country, it has transformed into a complete mini nation, only then Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that Delhi accepts and also entertains. Whoever comes here, Delhi is in his heart and he settles in the heart of Delhi. People coming from outside Delhi also have a huge contribution in the development here, but the way the government here is neglecting Bihar, Purvanchal is not appropriate.

The political equations in Delhi have changed in recent times. Through his recent announcements, which can be called electoral as well as populist, Kejriwal almost secured victory in Delhi, but from the very first day of the election month, the kind of hoardings that have popped up courtesy the BJP, the equations seem to be reversing. The Congress has by and large surrendered.

Presenting the party’s manifesto, Kejriwal had said he would run patriotic courses in schools. The BJP meanwhile has tried to encash development and nationalism. On the issue of Jamia Millia and Shaheen Bagh, there is an attempt to surround the Aam Aadmi Party and its strategists. Arvind Kejriwal did not turn to Muslim dominated areas in election programs. They do not want the BJP to benefit from polarization of Hindu votes. They know that they will get the Muslim votes but if the Hindu voters are lost, their game will be spoiled.

The Prime Minister tried to knock out Kejriwal by raising the question of ignoring Punjab, Bihar and UP but Kejriwal wants to split the Delhi BJP by asking the BJP leadership to reveal the face of Delhi CM. They know that if the BJP names Manoj Tiwari, then the leaders of Delhi and BJP who are eyeing the CM’s post will go away and if any of them are named, the resentment of Purvanchal and Bihar will be heavy for the BJP and the BJP is fully aware of this fact.

While the BJP has issued a resolution letter, the Congress its manifesto and the Aam Aadmi Party a guarantee card. If AAP and BJP have promised to give 200 units of free electricity in Delhi, then Congress has talked about giving 300 units of free electricity. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal in Aam Aadmi Party’s ‘Guarantee Card’offers Water, pollution-free city, women safety, free electricity (200 units), underground cable, infrastructure for illegal colonies, slum houses, public transport, education , Clean Delhi and toilet related promises. At the same time, BJP has also made some special promises in its resolution letter.

Not only has it promised to open 10 new colleges and 200 new schools in Delhi, it has also promised to provide bicycle to ninth grade students and electric scooty to college going students. 51 thousand rupees gift for marriage of poor widow’s daughter, said to provide employment to at least 10 lakh unemployed in five years.

Political parties have continued to promise the earth with offers to turn Delhi into a corruption-free transparent government, two rupees a kilo of flour to the poor, forming a Colony Development Board for the development of new authorized colonies, prioritizing development, ending a mountain of garbage, tanker-free Delhi in three to five years, from the tap promises to provide pure water and continue the electric-water subsidy being provided by the current government.

The Congress meanwhile has said it will give free electricity up to 300 units, 50 percent discount on use of electricity up to 300-400 units, free water up to 20 thousand liters and cashback of 30 paise per liter for spending less than this. It also talks of 33 percent women reservation in government jobs, provision of Rs 5 thousand per month under Sheila Pension Scheme for transgenders, Rs 5 thousand every month to graduates and Rs 7,500 unemployment allowance to post graduates.

There is no doubt that Shaheenbagh is a big issue in Delhi elections. The Citizenship Amendment Act seeks to grant Indian citizenship to Christians, Zoroastrians, Sindhis and Punjabis from Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Sindhi, Punjabi and Christians are more in Delhi, it is obvious that they will be inclined towards BJP.

Gorakhpur MP Ravikishan and Khesari Lal are also churning Delhi. The way BJP has put its workers on the campaign front and Amit Shah himself has distributed door-to-door leaflets, the BJP can benefit from it. BSP chief Mayawati has fielded candidates for all 70 seats in Delhi. There is a 25 lakh Dalit population in Delhi and 12 seats are reserved for them here. There are a dozen seats where there is a large number of Dalits. In such a situation, the BSP can spoil the game of these three parties. The performance of the Congress which has been in power in Delhi for a long time will also affect this election in its own way. Overall, the struggle is between the Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP.

Over a span of 20 days, around 240 MPs and 70 union ministers have been pushed into campaign mode. BJP launched an unprecented blitzkrieg with 5,000 rallies over 20 days and drawing up a list of 40 star campaigners to take on Arvind Kejriwal. Each assembly segment saw three to four rallies every day for 20 days.

It also tasked its senior leaders – ministers in the Narendra Modi government and 11 state chief ministers – to fuel its high-powered campaign. The leaders aimed small groups in what the party called “nukkad (street corner) meetings” – typically gatherings of 200 or 300 people. Summing up 10,000 small meetings over the 20-day period.

The election comes at time when there is a widespread protest that has impacted the nation over the CAA – NRC issue. BJP won India with a massive mandate in 2019 but it will aim to draw first blood in Delhi after 21 years.

BJP lost ground in Jharkhand and Maharashtra but aims to compensate in West Bengal. A state having 42 Lok Sabha seats – the third-highest with 16 Rajya Sabha seats. Any gain will make BJP’s position stronger in national politics.

While campaign anthems have blared ‘Bagga-Bagga’ and ‘Lage Raho Kejriwal’ in Delhi colonies, pamphlets, social media memes and 24X7 news cycle have kept the voters engaged.

Freebies and biryani continued to trend with Hindu-Muslim and Pakistan analogies in name of ‘deshbhakti’ and ‘azadi’. All the Delhi Assembly Election 2020 exit polls predicted an easy win for the Aam Aadmi Party. The BJP though is likely to  perform better than 2015 Delhi elections. Hence giving Arvind Kejriwal another term as the Delhi Chief Minister. In a low voter turnout, just 54.02 per cent people turned up to vote till 5 pm. The corresponding figure in 2015 was 67.5 per cent.

The three parties have made big election promises to the public, but the public has to decide whose promises they believe.

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