Millennium Post

Why BJP could lose in Delhi

Last Sunday read an innocuous news item in one of the newspapers, which said that 15 new officers have joined as assistant commissioners of Delhi police after successful completion of training. Why am I mentioning it here today? I am doing so because I could not resist from reading the details of the news item and found that of these 15, five trainees were from Bihar, three from Uttar Pradesh and just one from Delhi and another one from Haryana. Now that’s bad news for Delhi BJP and its crop of leaders like Rajya Sabha member Vijay Goel.

Despite winning all the seven seats in the last Lok Sabha polls, I really do not see the BJP bettering its performance of the assembly election of December 2013, whenever the next Vidhan Sabha polls are held. The people of Delhi gave a taste of what it thinks about the ability of BJP to rule Delhi to no less a person than its one of tallest leader Arun Jaitley last Saturday.

If the Finance Minister thought that having delivered a ‘Diwali bonanza’ kind of budget for the national Capital could see his party through in the Vidhan Sabha polls, he was shaken from his stupor at an interaction with the Residents Welfare Associations (RWAs). While the Minister expected bouquet for having subsidised the power bills, which in his own words would benefit around 84 per cent of small and middle class consumers in Delhi, he was bombarded with brickbats on the poor water situation in the national Capital.

But more than the civic and the related problems, the main cause for the electoral woes of the party in the national Capital is its inability to address the issue of change in the profile of the electorate. I mentioned the news item about the newly recruited police officers in the national Capital as a sample to put forth the point that migration has seeped into Delhi not just electorally but also socially and culturally. A Vijay Goel can wish away the Biharis only at his own peril.

Goel in course of the debate in Rajya Sabha on the budget for the national Capital, despite the explanation to the contrary he has given now, enumerated ways and means to keep the migrants away from the national Capital. Now that’s a sensitive issue and your intentions would always be doubted when you represent a party which forms a two colour rainbow – Bania and Punjabi, both these communities having been reduced to a miniscule minority in the national Capital.

In the course of the same debate, Janata Dal (United) leader KC Tyagi made a very voluble reference about the rise of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Tyagi mentioned that people voted for Arvind Kejriwal’s party because the traditional parties failed to meet their aspirations. Through these columns I have stated several times that I do not see much merit in the politics which Kejriwal pursues but I must admit that parties like the BJP in the national Capital have provided impetus to AAP by failing to grow beyond their conservative mindset.

Delhi today has a population of 25 million. The migrants constitute nearly 47 per cent of the total population of the national capital. Though, the migrants comprise of people from all parts of the country but those who have altered the political grammar of the state are primarily from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand. People from Uttarakhand comprise of nearly 10 to 12 per cent in 10 constituencies and thus are able to decide the fate of the candidates effectively on these seats.

The migrants come from diverse social and economic background from their states of origin but they polarise not on religio-ethnic but on regional lines. Thus, caste which is so powerful a force in the electoral dynamics in Bihar melts away and a regional identity works. More importantly they are to found everywhere from pulling rickshaw, selling vegetables at the roadside, managing a grocer’s shop, delivering pizzas, providing medical care in the hospitals, imparting lessons in colleges, managing desks in the government offices, controlling stakes in construction companies and organising meeting of the political parties.

Where they find their participation lacking is in the electoral battles. Both the Congress and the BJP have failed to recognise their aspirations. They have failed to see the fact that they belong to a regional entity where talking politics is part of daily chore. In absence of encouragement from mainstream parties, an entity like the AAP provides them the platform to meet their political ambitions.

In the last assembly polls BJP gave four tickets to Poorvanchali migrants. The numbers looks to be a joke when compared with the fact that it left four seats for the Akalis despite the fact Sikh community constitute only 2 to 2.5 per cent of the total electorate. On the other hand the Poorvanchali migrants in the Capital now are over 40 percent.

Before I am labelled as a votary of parochial politics let me be clear that these are some of the important components of an electoral battle and the BJP leadership cannot win Delhi by practising policy of migrant exclusion. Secondly BJP also needs to evolve a state level leader to bring credibility to the party. Party’s chief ministerial candidate in last polls Harsh Vardhan’s decision to migrate to national politics is no less criminal than Kejriwal running away from his responsibilities as chief minister.

When the city votes for its government, the BJP should not be seen asking for support in the name of Narendra Modi or for that matter Arun Jaitey. The need is to find one leader in whose name votes could be sought or else the party could wait twiddling its thumbs.

The author is with Centre for Reforms, Development & Justice, and is Consulting Editor, Millennium Post  

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