Delhi elections crucial test for BJP

By Yashwardhan Joshi. Dated: 1/20/2020 12:42:29 AM

Assembly elections in Delhi have never been this crucial for the ruling party at the Centre as they are this time.
These are the first elections that are being held in the shadow of countrywide protests that have been going on for the past several weeks against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Population Register (NPR) and National Register of Citizens (NRC).
The opposition parties have joined the protests and taken out rallies against the combined CAA-NPR-NRC that, they say, are all linked up to a move by the BJP to hit out at the Muslim community and destroy the secular character of the Constitution.
Most of the non-BJP ruled States have also decided not to implement the CAA with even some of the BJP allies expressing their reservations on the legislation in the strongest possible terms
If the saffron party wins the Delhi elections, scheduled for February 8, it would not only be seen as a validation of the CAA-NPR-NRC but also an endorsement of the move by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to create a 'New India'.
And since it's Modi who is expected to lead the BJP's challenge in the national capital through a plethora of rallies in the absence of any projected party chief minister, a BJP victory will also ensure that Modi's charisma has not waned in the face of widespread anti-CAA protests.
But assembly elections are quite different from the Lok Sabha polls. They are more or less contested on local issues as seen in Maharashtra, Haryana and Jharkhand recently.
Here in the saddle is the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which had won 67 of the 70 seats last time. In the five years in power it has taken several pro-poor measures, such as subsidised water and power, improved health services, notably through mohalla clinics, and reforms in the education system, which have made the party and its leader Arvind Kejriwal quite popular.
School reforms and the setting up of mohalla clinics have, in fact, been much appreciated throughout. In the 'Indian School Ranking 2019', three Delhi government schools have made it to a list of top 10 institutions among all government-run day schools in the country, with the Rajkiya Pratibha Vikas Vidyalaya (RPVV), Sector 10, Dwarka ranked No. 1.
Kejriwal remains a charismatic leader as a recent IANS-CVoter survey has found with a majority of voters (59.7per cent) saying that his party will win the polls. In the same survey, 24.1 per cent of the respondents have favoured the BJP, while only 2.4 per cent are for the Congress.
As for the seats, AAP is projected to get 59, the BJP 8 and the Congress just 3.
AAP has already launched a massive outreach exercise to showcase its achievements, especially its pro-poor and populist schemes, in a bid to return to power.
Against this backdrop, the BJP is testing its prime minister's popularity and the acceptance of the CAA-NPR-NRC among the Delhiites. As such Modi and other BJP leaders are surely going to make a pitch for this issue.
The saffron party has high hopes in next month elections, for it is seeing the results of the recent MCD and the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, in which AAP faired badly, as a measure of the decline in the popularity of Kejriwal and his party. In last year's Lok Sabha polls, AAP was relegated to the third place after the BJP and the Congress, with the saffron party winning all the seven seats and was leading in 65 of the 70 Assembly segments. The Congress was leading in 5 segments, while AAP was not leading in even a single segment.
Even at the height of Kejriwal's juggernaut in 2015, the BJP's vote share did not decline much and was at 32 per cent. It jumped by 25 per cent in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, On the other hand, AAP's vote share, which was 54 per cent in 2015 Assembly polls, nosedived to 18 per cent in 2019..
The supposedly third side of the triange in these elections is the Congress. It has given a good show in the recent Assembly elections in Haryana and Jharkhand. But in Delhi, in the absence of its charismatic leader Sheila Dikshit and sharp division within itself, most of the soothsayers have written it off.
Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the fourth player in the fray, will try to cash in on the votes of the Poorvanchalis, who have become a substantial part of Delhi in recent times and can tilt the balance in quite a few constituencies.
Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), an ally of the BJP at the Centre, has also jumped into the Delhi poll arena and announced candidates for all the 70 seats. He and Mayawati might cut into the Dalit votes of their rivals.
The Delhi elections will also prove whether the youth, who are angry at the Modi government for the Jamia and JNU violence and who have come out in massive support in the ongoing protest rallies against the CAA-NPR-NRC, are distancing themselves for the saffron party.
Kejriwal claims that his party will return to power with an even greater majority than last time by winning all the 70 seats. The BJP, however, says that Modi will be able to charm the Delhiites and the party will end its 21 year dry run. The Congress is of the view that it is gaining currency going by the Assembly elections from Rajasthan to Jharkhand and will come to power in Delhi after seven years.
But who knows the Delhi elections.
—[IFS]

 

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