‘Meri Dilli ko thoda pyar Chahiye, Modiji ki sarkar chahiye,’ ‘Dilli Chale Modi ke Saath,’ ‘Purna Bahumat’ – these are the punch lines and publicity slogans of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for the coming Delhi Assembly election. Notwithstanding the fact that the party has projected its chief ministerial candidate for Delhi (unlike Haryana, Maharashtra and Jharkhand) it heavily relies on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s magic. The BJP’s dependence on Modi wave is reflected in its publicity materials. Be it Jan-Dhan, making Delhi world class city or fulfilment of the aspirations of the youth, Delhi BJP is aggressively selling Modi’s achievements and his vision. The political strategy of the party, focused on Modi wave, is certainly paying dividends and the other political parties – Indian National Congress (INC) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) – find it difficult to cope up with the aggressive Modi-centric campaigning of the BJP.
The AAP factor
However, ‘Mini India’ Delhi’s voters are assumed to be very unpredictable and it was evident in the last Assembly elections when a new-born party AAP captured the imagination of the youth, lower and middle class segments and emerged as the second largest party. The new party even ran the Delhi Government for 49 days with the support of the Congress and maintained its pro-people credentials. The BJP had also improved its previous performance to become the single largest party. The gain of the BJP and the AAP was a result of strong anti-incumbency factor. This time around the incumbency issue is irrelevant and a direct contest is expected between the saffron party and the AAP. Given the grass roots penetration of the AAP and its leader Arvind Kejriwal, who promised not to repeat his past mistakes, has certainly become a formidable force.
Moreover, the AAP had declared its candidate much earlier and the move gives the party an edge while connecting with the voters. Modi’s charisma will be put on test with respect to Muslim voters, a strong vote bank of the Congress. Muslims are adrift to the AAP from the Congress and the BJP fundamentalists are only to blame for this. Muslims constitute 11.7 per cent in Delhi. However, a section especially the youth is getting closer to Modi’s development agenda. But, while campaigning in the national Capital some of the BJP MPs, including a Minister, estranged this section even further and the AAP is bound to gain. In ‘Mini India,’ fundamentalism has no place.
Modi & Bedi
Delhi has become very crucial and important for BJP’s chief Amit Shah, the political strategist par excellence. A ‘Purna Bahumat’ (absolute majority) would prove beyond doubt that Modi wave is not only continuing but it is getting stronger by every passing day. Shah’s strategy is clear. He wants to showcase Modi’s every move to make the wave stronger. The sudden entry of Kiran Bedi, who sometimes ago was critical of Modi, to the BJP fold and her projection as chief ministerial candidate are touted as influence and magic of the Prime Minister. Bedi has been brought in to check and marginalise the AAP’s agenda of corruption, safety of people, women’s empowerment, administration issues. Modi’s strong influence on all seven MPs of Delhi would help Bedi to campaign aggressively as the PM’s nominee. The BJP had won all the seven parliamentary constituencies in Delhi with 46.1 per cent votes. In 2013, its share was 33.7 per cent. It is also a fact that a less than expected gathering at Ramlila Ground on January 10 for Modi’s rally made the national leadership jittery and compelled them to adopt a new strategy with new leadership. One can blame low turnout to chilly weather!
The Modi wave is certainly a byproduct of his development agenda. Many of his schemes which he implemented in Gujarat, including ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao,’ are being introduced at the national level. He is pro-growth and a decision-maker. Given the economic conditions of the country, ‘policy paralysis” had to go and the Prime Minister, from day one in the highest office, has been very proactive in the fields of governance and economic growth. Inflation is within limit and decline in the prices of essential commodities including petrol and diesel make him a ‘Lucky Prime Minister’ for many. Modi, as a strong Prime Minister, has now become a darling of aspirational youth and the middle class. The middle class in Delhi had flocked to the AAP during the last Assembly elections. This shift is expected to make the saffron party stronger.
Political observers point out that only with Modi’s development agenda the BJP would be able to live up to its previous (Lok Sabha) achievements and no other factor is as dominant as this.
Traditionally, Delhi is known for its two-party system and a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP. But during the last Assembly elections we witnessed a triangular contest. But this time it would be direct fight between Modi and Kejriwal as both have made their party secondary and personality cult has become a dominant factor. However, the parties would not mind their secondary position if they are on winning ground.
The Modi wave will certainly have tremendous impact and if the BJP gets a ‘Purna Bahumat’ credit will go to the Prime Minister only. Yes, for Modi 2015 is a new year and a fresh wave in Delhi is what he would need the most to carry forward his development and ‘Bihar’ agenda.