Delhi's Lok Sabha outlook
The AAP-Congress alliance in Delhi has been doing rounds for a while now with ambiguity hovering despite Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief Sheila Dikshit refuting the idea of tie-up earlier this month. It seemed Shiela Dixit was eager to divide the anti-BJP vote rather than joining hands with the party that ousted Congress from power in the national capital. Politics is a game of strategic alliances and instances of those are evident across the nation right now. Both BJP and Congress have stitched up alliances across the country and preparations are in full swing to sweep votes through an optimal seat-sharing formula as well as candidate choice as per each constituency. Regional parties are playing a key role in the alliance game as the two dominant national parties need them to outperform their adversary in the respective states. Delhi's narrative is clear with AAP being the powerhouse ever since it registered a thumping majority in the last assembly elections. Often mentioned with Modi's Lok Sabha 2014 performance, a public outcry of Modi as PM and Kejriwal as CM is one of the most rational opinions. While Delhi has definitely benefitted with the AAP government at the helm, the public might still fail to support him on May 12 (Delhi's voting day), following the fact that this contest is for Lok Sabha and not Delhi Assembly. There is less doubt when it comes to Delhi, with a majority of people acknowledging the development that the AAP government has carried out in its term. It depends on what a voter thinks prior to voting in the upcoming mandate. If the opinion aligns on who should be the PM and considering the Modi factor that has single-handedly boosted BJP's popularity as the primary choice prior to polling, it becomes rather obvious that people might go for BJP in the Capital. But, the same people acknowledge AAP's efforts of providing electricity and water and developing Delhi's periphery; which would mean choosing AAP. In this debate, however, Congress struggles to find its place. Having ousted from power in Delhi, Congress's Delhi chapter is lackadaisical compared to BJP and AAP. It has still stirred the water by keeping any possibility of an alliance in the dark despite doing so in other states to oppose BJP. Riding on the mahagathbandhan wave which united the opposition parties against BJP, Kejriwal's determination to defeat BJP and win all seven seats comes from his longstanding conflict with the Centre over Delhi. Having suffered under the Centre's shadow on Delhi, Kejriwal's full statehood vow attracts more attention than Shiela's adamant stance over the AAP alliance. Should Rahul Gandhi trump Shiela's proclamation and join hands with AAP, the anti-BJP vote would stand undivided and hence serve as instrumental in the saffron party's possible defeat in the capital. It may also backfire with voters deeming this alliance as AAP supporting Congress and hence urging them to go for BJP instead. But that is unlikely to happen since AAP's popularity in the capital makes it look more like Congress is supporting AAP rather than vice versa. There have been incidents recently of spat between BJP and AAP over social media posts and Kejriwal accusing BJP of using the Delhi Police to cancel AAP's rally. Both will fight it out with the concerned Election Commission Officer, however, the matter which gets established is that Delhi's Lok Sabha 2019 theme will be AAP vs BJP. Congress's alliance with AAP, if represented appropriately in the seat-sharing formula, will augur well for AAP. With Congress's active participation in the anti-BJP pre-poll alliance involving various parties, its dissent on the same in Delhi has made an unnecessary conundrum prevail. At this juncture, Congress must move beyond this decision to join hands and focus on strategising to defeat BJP with its allies. Delhi's commoners consider Kejriwal fit as CM and might be intimidated by AAP's statehood outcry; acknowledging how Delhi has often suffered under the conflicting supervision of Centre and Delhi with Modi and Kejriwal being the latest in the longstanding conundrum regarding control over the national capital. If Delhi looks at its immediate interest, AAP would be the undoubted choice but if Modi and India are concerned, the outcome might see mixed results. As evident, Congress is almost an overlooked choice in this equation which means that if they are so focussed to oust BJP from power then logically, joining AAP may be the most feasible choice. Of course, Congress may not. After all, elections have surprises in store till the last minute and sometimes the logic may not be the only thing that predicts an outcome. If it were so, elections would be predictable – or is it not?