Delhi goes to polls on 7th of February 2015. Results will be declared on 10th February. We have today with us Politicalbaaba, one of the top politics and elections blogger and columnist from India to discuss Delhi polls.
Sara: What are the main issues in these elections?
Politicalbaaba: The state has been facing President’s Rule since last February when Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Aadmi Party resigned after 49 days in power. So the biggest issue is stability. People want to have a stable govt. which fulfills its term. The other issues are law and order / women’s safety, statehood for Delhi, development – electricity / water / transport / parking, unauthorised colonies / slums etc. Delhi has infamously become the rape capital of India. Delhi Police is under Central Home Ministry. It is flanked by Noida, Ghaziabad, Faridabad etc. where the Delhi Police does not have jurisdiction. It is easier for criminals to enter Delhi, commit crime and run away. The city has ~2,000 unauthorised colonies accommodating 50% of total population of Delhi. Theses colonies lack basic civic infrastructure. Delhi does not enjoy same power like other states and hence people are also demanding full statehood for the Delhi.
Sara: Who are the main players in these elections?
Politicalbaaba: The two national parties Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress traditionally have had a strong presence in the state. Congress performed poorly in the last elections on account of strong anti incumbency against the central as well as state Congress governments. The ground ceded by Congress was captured by a new party, born out of Annan Hazare movement against corruption, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) led by Arvind Kejriwal. AAP surprised pundits by coming second and formed the govt. with the same Congress against which it campaigned extensively. BJP led by Modi were left disappointed as they couldn’t form govt. in Delhi while it won the other three elections held together with it – Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. There is a sizeable Dalit population in the state which has also voted for smaller parties like Bahujan Samaj Party. As the state has a decent Sikh population, Akali Dal also has presence in pockets. However, it is part of BJP led alliance. The main fight is between BJP and AAP. Congress has become weak after a disastrous show in Lok Sabha polls in May 2014.
Politicalbaaba: After Modi led BJP to grand victory in Lok Sabha, thee have been 4 state elections – Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Jammu & Kashmir. BJP didn’t declare a chief ministerial (CM) candidate in all these states and fought with Modi as the face of the campaign. Modi extensively campaigned in these states, which also led to criticism from opposition (Prime Minister is not focussing on national issues and campaigning in states). BJP formed govt. in three out of these four states. In Jammu & Kashmir it came 2nd after People’s Democratic Party. No govt. formation possible without BJP in the state. BJP will continue with the same winning formula in Delhi as well. It won’t announce a CM candidate and fight elections on Modi factor and his development plank. People in the country are pretty satisfied with his govt. at the Center according to various polls. Like other states, Modi factor could work here as well. Of course there are state specific issues, you have a strong opponent in Kejriwal. So it’s an interesting fight!
Sara: What is the importance of Delhi elections?
Politicalbaaba: Delhi is the capital of the country. BJP will like to form govt. in the state at any cost. Last time it missed by a whisker, and it is still playing on its mind and its supporters. It is a matter of survival for AAP. It won only 4 seats in Lok Sabha out of 400+ it fought on. Party has been weakened due to desertions – Shazia Ilmi plus a few MLAs. Good performance is the key else there are dangers it will disintegrate post polls. Congress has lost badly in Lok Sabha and all states after that, it is very important to put up a good show, else it will move towards being a regional party. Leadership of Rahul Gandhi will also be challenged if it comes third after BJP & AAP.
Sara: Who according to you will win the elections?
Politicalbaaba: The fight is close between AAP and BJP. BJP has inducted Kiran Bedi, popular woman cop of India and Anna aide, to take on a Kejriwal. They have also inducted Shazia Ilmi into the party. This backed by good performance of BJP govt. at the Center and Modi’s charisma should help BJP to scrape through. I have not yet finalised my seat projections, but BJP will be able to form govt. The victory margins in all seats will be very less, so a close contest is on the cards. People seem to have lapped up BJP’s slogan of “same govt. in the Center and the state will lead to better co-ordination and development”. AAP has lost supporters because it resigned from govt. only in 49 days last time. Plus the party is also facing funding issues this time, as it relies mostly on public donations. Kejriwal is a one man army which is a big limitation for AAP. AAP will try to play on the infighting among state BJP, more now with Kiran Bedi in the party. Close finish on the cards…..
Politicalbaaba runs a popular blog on Indian politics and elections www.politicalbaaba.wordpress.com. It has been nominated by The Guardian as one of the online voices providing an alternative view of India and the general elections. author runs a blog author runs a blog www.politicalbaaba.wordpress.com. You can tweet @politicalbaaba.