Millennium Post

The wrangle between grandaunt and gentle doc

Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit has been in office for three terms now. However, faced with anti-incumbency ensuing from her 15-year-rule,  winning Delhi for the fourth consecutive time for the Congress won’t easy for her. To her advantage, the Opposition, the BJP, despite announcing Harsh Vardhan’s name as their chief ministerial candidate, remains a divided house. Even though the bitter battle scramble for the post of chief-ministerial candidate from the BJP might be over, it has hugely dented the party’s image and prospects. It might just be able to regain its stance and posture itself as the principal opposition to the Congress, ousting Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)’s prospects.

Encashing on the BJP’s crisis is the new entrant this year, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by social activist-turned-politician Arvind Kejriwal. Beginning his innings with the Anna camp, he strategically split to pursue his political ambitions and started this party. Even if Kejriwal claims to be the messiah of the common man, his personal attacks on Dikshit and Vardhan border to absurd. It is a litmus test for this party, which as per its internal claims will be sweeping the polls. But the finality of this dream needs to be in the poll results as well.

In 2008 elections, out of the 70 assembly constituencies Congress had swept the polls winning 42 seats, followed by the BJP with 23 seats, BSP with 2 seats and others won 2 seats. While before that in 2003 the Congress had acquired 47 seats, followed by the BJP who got 20 seats and others got three seats. Both these elections did not have the AAP in existence, their ploy to elevate the common man’s woes, need to be seen in the form of an election result and the number of seats that they acquire.

After remaining in power for 15 years and maintaining a relatively clean image, Congress is battling corruption allegations during the Commonwealth Games of 2010, the outrage that surfaced after 16 December gangrape and also graft charges against her ministers. Dikshit is a popular leader in the capital, she has a lovable, grandmotherly and clean image, and it’s remarkable that along with this exists an astute and sharp politician in her.

Dikshit has been known for her closeness to the Gandhi family, especially to party president Sonia Gandhi. This doesn’t mean that there is no internal dissent in the party. Her former colleague Ajay Maken has harboured ambitions to overthrow Dikshit and acquire the chief-ministerial throne. To avoid this coup, Dikshit has always ensured that Maken is kept away from state politics. To quell his rebellion, he was shifted to the union cabinet and before the arrival of election season he was shifted to the plum post of Congress media department head, clearing the way for Dikshit. Maken’s settlement, made sure there wouldn’t be a BJP like scenario in the Congress.

After winning 2008 election, Dikshit concentrated on the social sector. Introduction of cash transfer for food, the Laadli, the Annashree scheme, the Kishori scheme and others have been some major achievements of her government. Unfazed by the corruption allegations, Dikshit has said that both the Shunglu Committee and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) report have come out with nothing.

Another knot got eliminated for Dikshit just before the assembly elections. The Delhi high court on 11 October dismissed a petition alleging a Lokayukta report against her was ‘diluted’. The Lokayukta report had recommended the President to advise ‘caution’ to Dikshit for allegedly misrepresenting facts about the completion of 60,000 low-cost flats ahead of the 2008 assembly polls. Despite AAP’s constant overtly aggressive attacks on her, Dikshit remained calm and unaffected by their ‘personal’ jibes.

The latest tactic adopted by the AAP- conduction of surveys to affect the political pulse – is something which this party resorted to recently.

‘Given a choice of three leading parties, 38 per cent people want AAP to form government, followed by 29 per cent favouring Congress and 23 per cent for BJP,’ said the survey conducted by psephologist and AAP’s national executive member Yogendra Yadav, along with Delhi-based consultancy firm Cicero Associates.

Through this survey Kejriwal claimed, ‘We are set to get between 45 to 50 seats in Delhi. We are ahead in 33 constituencies.’ Being a first-timer in the state his claims need to be tested and results shown.

In case of the BJP, the scenario was earlier somewhat similar to Congress’s state of affair in Madhya Pradesh- a divided team. Three-time MP and current head of Delhi BJP, Vijay Goel, worked overtime to demolish established party leaders and has reaped a bitter harvest.
The recently appointed chief ministerial candidate Harshvardhan is a popular leader and most importantly he has the Sangh backing, which is what pushed his candidature ahead. The competition was a neck-and-neck one between the two, as Goel was aggressively pushing his stakes.

The infighting in BJP has hugely impacted its winability prospects, as firstly it has affected their party workers morale and also their mass contact programmes. The BJP, now with a clear contender, will try and do damage control to take on the Congress. They are sure to regain their position as main opposition but will they replace Congress is difficult to say.
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