Delhi elections poised to be a nail biting finish

AAP stormed Delhi and proved all political pundits wrong in 2013. It was the second largest party bagging 28 seats. BJP won 31 and Congress 8. A marvellous performance on its debut. To reflect back, how did AAP, a political novice, win so many seats. This is import at to understand the likely verdict in 2015.

AAP ran an innovative campaign which caught the imagination of people disgruntled with politicians. The campaign included:

1. Door to door campaigning

2. Involvement of public in selection of candidates

3. Transparent funding

4. Involvement of public in drafting manifesto

5. Carrying out pre poll survey and making its results public – This build momentum in its favour and influenced undecided voters. 

 

In a political culture where you see politicians only during elections, a party seeking views of the public made people believe that they are important, that there is somebody to listen to their viewpoint. People also in many candidates saw themselves – the common man. Many people also voted for AAP to show the power of Aam Aadmi to political class.

AAP emerged second in a very close contest. 18/70 seats (>25%) were decided on a victory margin of less than 3,000 votes. On 5 seats the victory margin was less than 1,000 votes and incidentally AAP won 4 of them and BJP was second in all of these seats. Voter mobilisation in booths was in the end the differentiating point in all these closely fought seats.

BJP’s victory margins was less than 3,000 votes in 7 out of 31 seats it won. AAP’s victory margin was less than 3,000 votes in 9 out of 28 seats it won. Congress victory margin was less than 3,000 votes in 2 out of 8 seats it won. 

BJP emerged second in 29 seats. On 9 of these seats the victory margins was less than 3,000 votes. AAP emerged second in 20 seats, on 7 seats the victory margins was less than 3,000 votes. Congress emerged second in 16 seats, on 2 seats the victory margins was less than 3,000 votes. This shows the elections were really close.

AAP resigned from govt. after it failed to get its Jan Lok Pal Bill passed in the assembly. They didn’t lose a no confidence motion. So their hurry to resign was related to their ambition to fight Lok Sabha polls. Kejriwal thought that party could do well in Lok Sabha and in a hung Parliament Lady Luck could smile on him for the second time in a row. While Kejriwal ran a SMS poll before forming the govt., he didn’t do so before resigning. Some supporters were really hurt by this childish behaviour. 

Kejriwal went out to fight Narendra Modi in Varanasi in Lok Sabha. Why Modi? He criticised Congress and Gandhi family for corruption. Modi had a unblemished record. If he fought against Rahul he might have won. Here again Kejriwal erred. Of course he was not a seasoned politician and couldn’t foresee the impact. 

Kejriwal lost in Varanasi, a foregone conclusion from day one, but his party also lost all Lok Sabha seats. BJP swept Delhi 7-0. Kejriwal was busy in his personal fight and there was nobody to campaign for candidates in Delhi. People also voted for Modi as Prime Minister and hence AAP lost. Interestingly its vote share increased while Congress tanked further. 

Will BJP repeat its Lok Sabha performance in Delhi? BJP has maintained its leadership position in three states which went to polls after general elections. In J&K it emerged 2nd. In all these states, BJP has lost some vote share in state polls compared to Lok Sabha. Congress is in shambles. It’s vote share is likely to further reduce. Its core vote bank of minorities and poor people will see in AAP the power to defeat BJP. 

BJP is running the campaign on development and development alone. It is presenting its governance record in states where it rules and the Center in front of the public. It is exhorting people to vote for the same government in the state as in the Center like people of Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Haryana. It is showcasing that it has far better experience of running governments. It is playing the stability card and Modi in Ramlila maidan rally called Kejriwal an anarchist without taking names. While AAP has lost some of its public support, BJP needed to be wary of a few things to perform better in Delhi. The biggest among them was not having a CM candidate. This they have rectified by bringing in Kiran Bedi, first woman IPS officer and announced her as CM candidate. She is expected to create a division in support for the erstwhile India Against Corruption voters as both Kejriwal and Kiran are prodigies of Anna Hazare.

Will Modi factor work again in favour of BJP in Delhi? Will Kejriwal again bite the bullet like in Varanasi? Will Kiran Bedi usurp Kejriwal? Will AAP surprise Modi & BJP and halt his roller coaster ride? All these things will be known only on Feb. 10th. Till then keep your fingers crossed. Last elections show that it is going to be another nail biting finish…..

 

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.

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