Millennium Post

A Capital test for our democracy

Trumpets have been sounded for the mother of all assembly elections. As Delhi goes to the polls today, what we must remember is the undeniable fact this is going to be one of the most bitterly-contested elections, with all three parties having made a significant splash in the electoral corridors. As campaign ends in the national capital, as pre-election surveys and exit polls offer conflicting scenarios, as the prospect of a hung assembly vaguely looms in the horizon, Delhi gears up to deliver a verdict. All three players, the thrice-victorious Congress, the long-entrenched opposition in the BJP and the new kid in the block, the Aam Aadmi Party, have campaigned ferociously to win over the hearts and minds of the Capital’s voters. While the Sheila Dikshit-led Congress can still bank on the veteran politician’s intrinsic charm, her glib media presence and contributions such as the Delhi Metro, among others, the Arvind Kejiwal-driven AAP hopes to make a sweeping statement by severely denting the ruling party’s prospects in this battle of the ballot. The 70-seat strong Delhi assembly could be split three-way amongst the three players, since even the gentle doctor Harsh Vardhan, the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate, along with the national game changer Narendra Modi, have managed to energise the rank and file of the saffron party’s state unit. Moreover, this time around, Sheila Dikshit is indeed faced with not one but two formidable opponents, who have struck a chord with the common man and woman on the streets, with anti-incumbency over inflation and corruption issues indeed posing to bring down her hitherto rock solid governmental edifice.

The parties have also managed to pull off another feat. All three of them, particularly AAP, have cashed in on the rise of social media as an electioneering tool, with Arvind Kejriwal’s hyperactive presence on Twitter leading the way. For once, the English language media is really at its wits end, unable to accurately predict the results of the gladiatorial battle between the behemoths. The past 10 years have brought about a bevy of changes and the electorate too has undergone tremendous degrees of transformation. Not just the urban middle class, but the urban migrants will play a significant role in deciding the outcome. Moreover, since the traditionally Congress-voting professional class has moved to the suburbs surrounding Delhi, changing the demographics crucially, the migrant vote is bound to become even more meaningful. Hence, even though infectious and intensive campaigning on the ground has increased the visibility of the respective leaders to the aam aadmi, unless they come out in droves and register their votes, the wave might just die a virtual death, as it were. It is important, especially for the educated middle classes, to come out of their comfort zones and exercise their voting rights as a matter of duty. We must learn from the assembly polls in the states like Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, which registered high voter turn outs beating several odds, including Maoist threats. Hence, although the parties are banking on the 25 swing seats to make or break in the 4 December polls, the triangular fight will not reach its rightful conclusion unless Delhi delivers a strong political statement.
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