Ten reasons why AAP will win in Delhi
Despite a different voice emanating from the slums and colonies, mainstream media so far has been almost unanimous in their analysis that the Bharatiya Janata Party is leading the popularity charts in Delhi. Such assessments have arisen in spite of Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal’s immense popularity among the urban poor.
Talking to scores of people in half a dozen areas during a short trip to Delhi, allied with online research, I came to a different conclusion. As per my estimates, AAP will win more than 35 per cent of the popular vote in Delhi. In terms of the number of seats, it will cross the half-way mark of 35 by a slender majority to form the next Delhi government on its own. And I will stand by this assessment.
Why do I say so? It is not because I think AAP should win. Rather it is because Delhi thinks AAP should be given a chance with a clear majority. The reasons are as follows:
1) Several BJP voters have noted that they are happy with Modi at the Centre with a clear majority. Moreover, many such party workers will not mind having AAP in Delhi to fulfill their promises. With different parties at the State and Centre, checks and balances will be established between the two.
2) Some Congress voters, few and far in between, noted that voting for their party in this particular election is a waste. Some have even suggested that it would be better to vote for AAP, in order to keep BJP out of power in Delhi.
3) Euphoric AAP supporters vouch for the “golden 49-day rule” when, as popularly believed, corruption came down, police behaved better, prices of vegetables were lower, water supply was free, power tariff was halved, and the rest of it. Why not turn 49 days to 1800?
4) Although many voters were happy with Kiran Bedi’s candidature as the BJP’s chief minister face, many are amazed at how soon she switched after negating ‘politics’ when AAP was formed. Indeed, as a Delhi University academic pointed out, there is absolutely no change in the ground realities that Bedi fought against. No Lokpal has been appointed, prices of essential commodities are still high and black money has not been retrieved yet, among others.
5) There is massive disgruntlement among grassroots BJP workers, as they did not expect the central party leadership to hoist Bedi. BJP insiders suggest that while Bedi will win in Krishna Nagar, the party will not do well in seats, where the difference with AAP is minimal.
6) There is a widespread belief that against AAP’s well known positions on power and water crises, women’s security, inflation, public education and healthcare, there is no clarity of policy on the BJP’s part.
7) Among 80 per cent of those whom I spoke to across the political spectrum, there is a clamour for a direct debate between Bedi and Kejriwal on policy issues. Bedi’s refusal to enter a debate has been considered a failure on the BJP’s part. This position has created doubts among BJP’s upper middle class voters, who love a fiery television debate in the confines of their drawing rooms.
8) Whether one likes it or not, the electoral battle in Delhi is gradually turning into a battle between the classes. The urban poor and lower middle class are largely siding with AAP, and the rich and senior citizens have sided with BJP. The poorer sections vote in larger numbers.
9) Kejriwal has established a direct connect with the voters. Having addressed some 50+ Jansabhas, and declaring his candidates more than a month ago, Kejriwal has covered much ground. Bedi, however, was declared as CM candidate only two weeks before the polls. She will not find easy to cover the ground made up by Kejriwal.
10) Finally, the ‘intellectual class’ feels that it is good to experiment with alternative politics. Having AAP rule a state and display its mettle in the long term is in the interests of the Indian polity.
One thing that perhaps everyone will agree with is that Delhi, which has not seen more than 67 per cent voter turnout, will see unprecedented polling this time.
The author is Dean, DGMC, University of Mumbai. Views expressed by the author are personal. They do not reflect the newspaper’s view