It is less than a week before the Delhi Elections due on Feb 7th. Yesterday (Feb 1st) as per report in Times of India the bookies are backing BJP as clear winner. For every one rupee, bet on BJP earns 36 paise, while that of AAP it is Rs 2.50. Quite often, bookies reflect the general prevailing mood. However, at this point I would stick my neck out, clearly against the odds, as I see clear groundswell of support in favour of AAP thanks to a leader which ranks tallest, a party that has a clear roadmap and a definite plan of action for Delhi in the next 5 years. His opponents would have liked the ‘Naxal’ to be thrown away to jungle. In one week’s time the electorate might embrace the return of the prodigal for the crown of Delhi.
Headstart- Delhi Dialouge
This election has been driven by the AAP agenda since the elections were announced in Jan 12, 2015. Much before the official announcement, AAP has already been in the fray with a series of Delhi Dialogues on various issues affecting the capital city like Women’s rights and safety, Jobs and employment, Health, Education, Electricity, Water etc. AAP went to the stakeholders and in true spirit of participatory democracy incorporated their feedback which has been integrated into their manifesto.
A job well begun is half won. This head start gave the necessary momentum in its favour.
BJP- Flip Flops
In contrast the BJP which had a spectacular sweep in recording win in 60 assembly segments (out of 70) in Parliamentary elections in May 2014 seem to rest complacent. This complacency was further reinforced by successful performance of BJP in several state elections which followed thereafter. Possibly they thought Delhi was already in their pocket and Modi Magic will ensure an easy victory.
So they did not have a chief ministerial face. However, as it became clear that not having a face is turning into an embarrassment, they had a midnight announcement in projecting Ms. Kiran Bedi as their chief ministerial candidate just before a few weeks. What followed thereafter is a series of bloopers. Challenged for an open political debate she shied away.
Initial days showed resentment in rank and file over parachuting an outsider, and a strong critic of Modi and BJP. Add to this, the party did not have clear view on critical issues like Full Statehood for Delhi. And to cap it all, it abandoned having even a manifesto. As grounds appeared slippery it has pressed hundreds of its MPs, dozen of its cabinet ministers to be on electoral duty to salvage the situation. However this late inertia of action is not likely to compensate the huge inertia of rest that BJP had since past few months. Too late, too little.
Delhi is not just another state
Winning an election in the background of a strong anti-incumbency and charismatic appeal of PM Modi has helped BJP win the Parliament elections and Assembly elections thereafter.
However, Delhi is different as for past 8 months it is BJP which is ruling Delhi by proxy through the Lt. Governor. So what is at test is eight months of BJP rule. Congress has paid heavily for anti-incumbency of 15 years by being reduced to a fringe player now. AAP paid for its quitting 49 day Government in the parliamentary elections by losing in all 7 parliamentary constituencies.
Now it is time for BJP to stand up and gets people’s verdict for 8 months of its proxy rule. Eight months after the official calendar of Achhe Din, People are still looking for return of black money, control over prices of essential commodities particularly edibles. In Delhi in 2014 crime against women has increased and there is a perceptible Increase in religious fundamentalism. On all these and much more, BJP has to answer to the public whose expectations were elevated substantially during 2014 May elections. Has the Achhe Din reached the masses? This will be the deciding question.
Come 10th February, the counting day. The wise voters of Delhi will give a milestone verdict on arrival of achhe din or otherwise. The next important issue is the relevance of alternative politics in Delhi and the nation at large. What Delhi does today becomes trend nationally tomorrow.
By: Hari Hara Mishra