Delhi polls: AAP takes on mighty BJP but Cong opts for a ringside view

The Congress has been a reluctant player this time, while the BJP and AAP are engaged in an enthusiastic political battle

Delhi polls, elections, AAP, Arvind Kejriwal, Amit Shah, BJP, Congress

The Delhi poll turf seems to be devoid of any rapturous, visible wave. Going by the voters’ mood, the AAP is poised to return to power with fewer seats than last time.

On Tuesday (February 4), the Kejriwal charisma and Modi magic were at play as the Delhi CM and the PM hit the streets for campaigning. With the polling date closing in (February 8), the BJP and the AAP see a tough battle ahead, on the ground. The Congress has been more of a reluctant player this time, with attempts to be in the poll arena ending up as mere whimpers on the electoral Richter.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Congress president Rahul Gandhi, its general secretary Priyanka Gandhi, Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal, UP CM Yogi Adiyanath, and Bihar CM Nitish Kumar were among the heavyweights who campaigned in the recent past.

Poll pundits had predicted a simple majority for the AAP but they agree that there has been a blip after the two ‘Ns’ – Narendra Modi and Nitish Kumar campaigned in Delhi.

They say the PM’s mop-up campaign has galvanized the cadre and the mood is upbeat.

Priority list

Basic civic issues dominated the campaign as AAP’s manifesto placed ‘people’s issues’ high on their priority list. A long-pending matter has been the plea of residents to regularize unauthorized colonies – a perpetual poll issue on which PM Modi seems to have waved the magic wand. He managed to issue ‘pucca’ registration certificates to 20 lakh families, thereby gaining political mileage.

Shaheen Bagh focus

The AAP stuck to free metro and bus rides, clean water, and rations at the doorstep in their manifesto. But the BJP seemed to bundle everything into Shaheen Bagh. AAP said it was a clever move by the Modi-Shah duo to distract the campaign from
‘muft bijili-muft paani’ and pin down Kejriwal.

AAP poll managers were also rattled by the force with which Amit Shah took it on himself to campaign for the party.

Another aspect to note is the subtle support the Congress has been extending to the AAP, by at least not opposing it.

The minorities are bound to vote for the AAP. There is no two opinions on the fact that the Congress would be the largest loser in Delhi. But, the grapevine is that Sonia, Rahul, and Priyanka can be happy at the dinner table that they could keep the BJP out of Delhi. The Congress has been adopting state-specific strategies to contain the BJP – be it Kerala, Maharashtra Jharkhand, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh or Rajasthan.

Just Kejriwal to bank on

The AAP’s disadvantage is that it has to depend solely on Arvind Kejriwal. Social media is awash with speculation that AAP will be sweeping the polls. AAP has engaged strategist Prashant Kishor. Reports suggest that the party is spending less on street campaigns and more on social media.

The BJP, in a quirky turn, has brought in leaders from the south for its campaign. The logic is that Delhi is a city with Poorvanchalis and erstwhile ‘Madrasis.’

Now, the BJP has four MLAs. Even if the BJP touches the 20-25 mark, it is a resounding victory.

For Kejriwal, holding Assembly sessions with a strong BJP contingent in place would be a tall order. In that scenario, he may not be able to have his way, with regard to passing resolutions against the lieutenant-governor and the Centre.

Kejriwal too has evolved. He has not fallen for the provocative diatribe that the BJP has unleashed. He, it seems, is adopting a more positive approach and it is definitely a change from what Kejriwal was in 2004. For, it takes quite an evolution from his Anna Hazare days to be someone who chants Hanuman Chalisa in public to appeal to Hindu voters.

BJP has been trying to say that Shaheen Bagh, the hub of anti-CAA protests, is the creation of the AAP. Amit Shah tried to deftly cash in on the inconvenience caused to the general public due to the closing of the Shaheen Bagh. He went on to add that every vote for the BJP will mean the removal of Shaheen Bagh.

BJP has been trying to be one with the people by highlighting the plight of citizens, in its bid to counter the ‘people-friendly’ AAP manifesto.

The win may be AAP’s but Amit Shah is leaving no stone unturned. He has been vigorously taking up house visits and making stump calls to mop up as many votes as possible – demonstrating the political acumen to build a strong opposition if not a win.

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