Following the Election Commission’s announcement on Delhi election schedule, Capital’s political battleground has once again geared up to see a fierce fight between two tough contenders – the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Like in 2013, this time also the Congress looks much out of the scene by losing its traditional vote bank (slum dwellers and Muslims) in Delhi. According to the ‘India TV-CVoter’ opinion poll AAP is likely to win 29 seats and BJP 35. Congress’s performance will be worse than its last time’s performance in Delhi polls. Hence, much of Delhi Assembly elections 2015 will be a direct contest between the BJP and the AAP. Delhi polls are scheduled to be held on February 7, 2015 for the 70-member House.
AAP’s position in Delhi
The AAP, with Arvind Kejriwal as its Chief Minister face, had started campaigning for the polls much earlier than the BJP. The party is trying to reach the grass roots by organizing ‘Jansabhas’ and doing door-to-door campaigns. Despite being unsuccessful in the general elections, the AAP is a big challenge for the saffron party in Delhi. The party is playing a smart game and has become more sensible this time by targeting areas that have not been picked by the BJP. It even questioned the BJP on the issue of giving ”statehood” to Delhi. It seems that the Aam Aadmi Party has learned a lot from its previous mistakes and the party is no longer a fresher. It is talking about development and it seems that senior party leaders have also shed their anarchist attitude.
It is worthwhile to mention that the BJP should not underestimate its contender, as AAP is still popular and has a strong presence in unauthorized colonies and slum areas.
It was the AAP that blocked the BJP’s win in 2013 Assembly polls. The Bharatiya Janata Party won 31 seats (the number has come down to 28 as three members have been elected to the Lok Sabha) and the AAP won 28 seats in the December 2013 polls and formed a minority Government with outside support from the Congress and ran the show for 49 days. This period was marked by dharnas and road blocks, leading to its disconnection with the middle class. So reconnecting with the middle class voters is the biggest challenge for the Aam Aadmi Party.
BJP’s challenges and strong points
The Bharatiya Janata Party received an overwhelming support in Lok Sabha and State Assembly elections. But it seems unlikely that the BJP will get the same support in Delhi. Moreover, with AAP as a strong local party, the BJP’s recent win in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and J&K may not make much impact in Delhi.
But Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charisma to pull crowd will definitely work in favour of the party to an extent. The BJP has decided to keep Modi as the face of BJP’s election campaign in Delhi and announced that it will contest elections under collective leadership like they did in other States. However, this is not going to help much. The saffron party needs to project a very strong personality, who is popular among the masses, as its face for Chief Minister.
BJP’s Chief Ministerial candidate
Though the BJP has not yet decided its candidate for Chief Minister, the AAP has gone ahead and done that for the saffron party. It is projecting a direct contest between AAP’s chief Arvind Kejriwal and BJP’s veteran leader Jagdish Mukhi. In a reaction to this, Jagdish Mukhi has registered a case against Arvind Kejriwal.
Janakpuri MLA Jagdish Mukhi has served as the Minister of Finance, Planning and Education in the first Assembly. In the second and third Assembly, he was the Leader of the Opposition. Jagdish Mukhi was also the front-runner for Delhi’s Chief Minister post last year. Though he has extensive political experience, he is not very popular among the masses.
There is speculation about social activist and retired IPS officer Kiran Bedi becoming the party’s face for chief ministership. She joined the BJP on Thursday. Former AAP leader Shazia llmi and actor-turned politician Jaya Prada will follow suit.
The Capital has seen a year of sweeping changes: New entrant AAP came to power, messed up everything and opted out of power, hung assembly, general elections, Modi wave, and so on.
Modi wave had helped the BJP to win all the seven seats in Delhi during 2014 general elections. But will it work in Delhi or not? In 2013 Delhi Assembly elections the BJP was contesting against the Congress and the AAP. However, in 2015 elections the Congress no longer looks like being in the race. But the AAP has adopted a more humble style this time as compared to 2013 in order to gather goodwill votes. Therefore, elections this time are going to be more tough and unpredictable.
Who do you think will be the next Chief Minister of Delhi after the coming Assembly polls on February 7?