Group President, Group Managing Director & Editor In Chief: Dr.Shelly Ahmed

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Exclusive: Kiran Bedi May 'Loose', Kejriwal May 'Win' Delhi

The BJP has tried all tricks in the book to win Delhi, from announcing regularisation of slum colonies to paradropping Kiran Bedi in the state unit to making political capital of the Obama visit, but nothing seems to be working for it at the moment. 

Not long ago, the consensus among poll observers was that Delhi would be a cake-walk for the party what with its spectacular performance in assembly elections in other states. Only a couple of weeks ago, everyone accepted AAP was a strong challenger but that BJP had the edge with the Congress nowhere in the picture. How things have changed!

What exactly did go wrong in the BJP’s calculation? Here are five reasons why BJP will find it hard to get majority in the Delhi assembly elections:

Kiran Bedi as CM face
Since the day party chief Amit Shah declared her as the chief ministerial candidate, the state unit has been witnessing discontent within. Though many senior party leaders in Delhi have dismissed talk of resentment against the decision, the lack of involvement among the workers and party is visible. In fact, on January 20 BJP workers had protested outside the BJP Delhi office on Pandit Pant Marg questioning the decision and openly dismissing the nomination of a ‘parachute CM’.

In addition to that, the former IPS officer despite being a popular personality in the city, has barely managed to pull any crowd at her rallies. A close aide to party president Amit Shah revealed that he is worried about the lack of support that Bedi is receiving from the people of Delhi. Political commentators too are uncertain whether naming Bedi as CM candidate is a master stroke by the BJP or their biggest blunder.

Unfair ticket distribution
If naming Bedi as the CM candidate wasn’t bad enough, the situation between the party leaders and workers got worse with the party inviting and encouraging former Congress and AAP leaders to contest instead of their own.

East Delhi is facing the worst outrage with former Congress MP Krishna Tirath, former AAP MLAs Vinod Kumar Binny and MS Dhir and Okhla candidate Brahma Singh Bidhuri, who defected from the Bahujan Samaj Party.

“We have so many local leaders who have been relentlessly working for the party for decades. Residents here love them and would definitely support them. Then what is the point to getting defected candidates of other parties,” a BJP district president from East Delhi, said.

Saffron self-goal
The activities of the Hindutva forces, so far seen as the secret ally of the BJP, have made it progressively worse for the party since it came to power last year. Be it Union Minister Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti’s controversial comment “Ramzada or Haramzada” or BJP MP from Uttar Pradesh Sakshi Maharaj’s accusations about madarsas teaching terrorism to a number of communal comments by the RSS leaders. All of this is likely to have alienated urban population of Delhi in addition to causing loss in terms of minority votes, including 12 percent Muslim and 2 percent Christian votes.

Though, Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have on several occasions discouraged the communal commentary and the party too has issued show cause notices to such leaders in the party, but the damage done will be hard to undo. “Most of the youth, between the age group of 18 and 30 have a secular mindset and are likely to be alienated from supporting a party with such a primitive mindset,” UK-based Indian psychologist, Aparna Kapoor, said.

AAP workforce
To make matters worse for the BJP, the Aam Aadmi Party cadre has a two-month head start over the BJP when it comes to campaigning at the ground level. While AAP declared most of its candidates by early December last year, their campaigning started way back in November. As a matter of fact, BJP declared its candidates a week ago, not even a month before the elections, giving them very little time for door-to-door campaigning.

In addition to that, the AAP has also mobilised workers from other states. Thousands of AAP members have come to Delhi from Bangalore, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Punjab and Haryana to assist the party in the Delhi elections. Their innovative campaigning style is not only getting the attention of the public but also diminishing the Modi wave.

Opinion polls favouring AAP
Though the ABP-Nielsen opinion poll in November last year gave BJP a clear majority estimating that the party would win 46 seats out of 70 in the upcoming assembly elections, a lot seems to have changed since then. A more recent pre-poll survey, conducted by Hindustan Times and C Fore Survey revealed that AAP may have caught up in the rat race. According to the survey, AAP’s vote share has gone up by 9 percent from 24.9 percent in the 2013 assembly elections, the party is estimated to get 33.9 percent in the upcoming one.

Meanwhile, the BJP has only managed to raise their vote share by 5 percent bringing them from 33 percent in 2013 to 38 percent in 2015. Though, it may still be higher than AAP’s vote share, but a lot could change in the next week or so.

The interesting aspect to take into account is that in both the opinion polls, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal has stood out to be the city’s favourite among all chief minister candidates. In the ABP-Nielsen opinion poll, 39 percent of Delhi’s electorate wanted AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal as the next chief minister, highest amongst his competitors. Similarly, the C Fore Survey also revealed that 43 percent of Delhiites want Kejriwal as their next CM, while 39 percent want Bedi and 12 percent want the Congress candidate Ajay Maken.
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