Millennium Post

Fingers crossed in delhi

Delhi goes to the polls on February 7 to elect its sixth assembly. The emergence of a third party after 2013 elections brought a temporary end to the era of two-party contests. The results of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, across seven seats in Delhi, further marginalized the Congress.  With the Congress on the margins and its shrinking vote share, reminiscent of the erstwhile Janta Dal in 1993 that had won a mere four seats in the first assembly elections, the political equilibrium in the national capital today hangs in the balance between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

After it was wiped out in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the so called third force in the national capital, i.e. Aam Aadmi Party, took stock of the situation and vowed to set its house in order to re- establish its supremacy in Delhi. Meanwhile, the BJP, was buoyed by its spectacular success in the Lok Sabha polls. When AAP’s face in the national capital Arvind Kejriwal roamed the streets of Delhi to reignite his party, BJP leaders continued dreaming of an easy victory in the Delhi assembly elections. Kejriwal continued his tirade against the BJP and went on to damage the party by calling it ‘faceless’ and a ‘sinking ship’ without a captain.

The rally addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 10th January at Ram Lila Maidan proved to be an eye opener. The poor show in fact, exposed factionalism and organisational weaknesses in the party. This forced  Shah and Modi to revise their strategy and put in place certain checks and balances to avoid any unpleasant situations after historical victories in 2014 Lok Sabha and subsequent assembly elections in four states.

The BJP, under its recently-declared chief minister candidate Kiran Bedi, is trying to catch up with Kejriwal’s fierce campaign. Seemingly the present elections have become a do or die battle for both the BJP and AAP.  A defeat for the BJP may adversely affect its chances of acquiring power in ensuing assembly elections in the states of Bihar, West Bengal, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. A defeat for the Aam Aadmi Party may put a full stop to its expansion plans in other states, especially those in North India. At present, it looks as if the BJP is no match for Kejriwal, who has intensified his party campaign, bereft of breaks. Both parties, therefore, have been gearing up its resources and exhorting their cadres to pull up their socks. 

The election in Delhi is a litmus test for the ‘Modi wave’ and the organisational capacity and strategy of Amit Shah. The BJP president has been keeping a close eye over the developments in Delhi, since a victory here would set a positive trend for the party elsewhere. The BJP is eagerly looking for an absolute majority in the Delhi Assembly, as any misfire may keep the BJP out of power continuously for a period of over two decades, leaving its workers demoralised.  

The BJP party president has deployed a battery of top leaders and ministers to tight the loose ends. Besides, tried and tested poll managers like Dharmender Pradhan and others have been asked to ignite party workers and the contestants.  The BJP, which remained just four seats away from an absolute majority last time because of a late announcement of its chief minister candidate, has committed a similar mistake this time. An early and timely announcement of candidates and its face in the elections has proved to be helpful in achieving desired results.  Another reason the party failed to achieve the requisite numbers last time was because it lost in 11 seats by a slender margin. Had the party remained active from the start, with a credible face, such slender defeats could have been well avoided.

The present election scenario looks like a close race between the BJP and AAP.  Possibility of fewer margins in several seats cannot be ruled out this time too.  These seats could also damage the chances of both parties, leaving a hung assembly yet again.  Even opinion polls in the electronic media have left no scope to derive any definitive conclusions. These opinion polls contradict each other. Some polls are unanimous in depicting that Kejriwal has garnered the highest preference for the chief minister’s post, whereas others have given the BJP a higher percentage of votes. The cut throat contest between BJP and AAP has made it impossible to predict the assembly election results in Delhi.
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