Is Modi magic fading in the run up to Delhi Elections 2015?
Latest opinion polls from various agencies seem to suggest that AAP is gaining ground in certain pockets rather than losing it, as was expected, especially in the backdrop of quitting within 49 days of coming into power.
In light of the fact that the Modi-Amit Shah electoral juggernaut has continued to conquer state after state since the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, winning the Delhi polls has become a matter of prestige for Team BJP.
There is no debate on the fact that Modi has successfully captured people’s imagination and support across the country and it was expected that the same would extend to Delhi, especially since its main challenger, AAP is facing its own challenges from within the party.
BJP goes all out
BJP accords highest priority to winning the Delhi elections and this is validated by the fact that Amit Shah cracked the whip, rather belatedly, on various factions within the BJP that were unhappy with Kiran Bedi, an outsider, being inducted into the party and made the Chief Ministerial candidate.
In addition, the high command has deployed party heavyweights to take to the streets of Delhi in support of Kiran Bedi. A territory has been earmarked for each member with performance responsibility. Prime Minister Modi has himself jumped to the forefront by addressing a high profile rally to galvanise support for Bedi.
The importance that BJP attaches to the Delhi elections is manifested in its efforts to rope in President Obama to attend the Republic Day Parade as a Chief Guest, just before the Delhi polls.
Has the poll strategy worked for the party so far?
By now, the opinion trends should have been pointing to the BJP eclipsing both AAP and the INC, but so far, something seems amiss.
People of Delhi still seem ambivalent about BJP while still not moving decisively to the AAP camp, at least not just yet. What can Amit Shah do at this stage to swing people’s opinion towards the party? Or is it a little too late?
BJP was slow in realizing the vote potential of the Purvanchali segment, as this could well emerge as a significant factor in swinging votes towards or away from BJP. The party has responded by offering a slew of development measures to win over the Purvanchali vote base but there is a feeling that the response has come too late.
The party is also preparing a ‘Vision Document’ for Delhi 2050 by including development as the core agenda, with the hope of swinging overall voter opinion in favour of the party. But can this hurriedly-made document impact voter opinion at this stage?
While Amit Shah may have gagged the rank and file within his party from showing dissent against Kiran Bedi’s selection for the CM’s race, he has not been able to prevent the party rebels from making their concerns public. The latest example is Narendra Tandon, a BJP Working Committee Member, who resigned today (2, February) to protest Kiran Bedi’s induction into the party, questioning Party High command’s decision to induct someone who had previously lathi-charged party workers during her stint as an IPS officer. Unfortunately for BJP, he is not the only one who is unhappy with Kiran Bedi’s induction.
So how is this likely to play out in the voters’ mind? It might not create significant ripple effect, especially when AAP itself has been firefighting internal dissensions with senior party leaders like Shanti Bhushan publicly voicing support for Kiran Bedi.
The Delhi voter realizes that the BJP government in Delhi will have an easier time with BJP at the centre, while AAP is going to be challenged at every level.
Two factors could play the spoilsport for Team BJP. The INC, which still commands a certain loyal voter base and could upset BJP’s calculations. The other could be a lower turnout of middle-income voters, who are considered as great support base for BJP. If the voter turnout is lower than previous years, then this could go against the BJP.
With five days to go for voting, it remains to be seen whether Narendra Modi can rekindle his magic in a last-mile push?