The incumbent Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has walked the talk in Delhi leaving no scope for the anti-incumbency factor to have the upper hand.
Written by Tanush Handa
Although the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has been enjoying the popular mandate at the Centre for a while now, things look a little off-track in the electoral landscape of Delhi.
Modi-Shah duo’s efforts look far from convincing. Thanks to the counter-attacking populist policies (education and healthcare reforms, targetted subsidies in water, electricity and transport) of Arvind Kejriwal, the Aam Aadmi Party has garnered voters admiration and also endorsement.
So while Delhi gears up for an action-packed election festival, Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party starts out as firm favourites to retain the mandate in the Capital city. In fact, such is the fervour around the AAP, that the BJP is already looking lost in its agenda before the Delhi Legislative Assembly Elections 2020.
The Faceless Party
The way BJP’s state leadership continues to underwhelm, the national party is heading for nothing short of a disaster this election season. The party is yet to strike back after its government fell prey to rising inflation and sluggish development under the leadership of late Sushma Swaraj in 1998. Since then the BJP has been unable to provide the people of Delhi with a credible face before the 2020 elections.
This ultimately led to late Sheila Dikshit enjoying three consecutive terms in Delhi until Arvind Kejriwal and AAP took over. The issue of not being able to offer a reliable leader persists for BJP. With Manoj Tiwari as the President of Delhi state wing of the BJP, the party has no option but to ride on Modi’s shoulders and hope his image helps them sail through in Delhi.
No BJP Candidate To Take On Arvind Kejriwal
Another sign of BJP’s nervousness in Delhi came across with its decision to delay the release of its list of candidates it is fielding in the upcoming assembly election. While ardent saffron supporters would think it to be a part of BJP’s strategy to dismantle the strong and robust government before Delhi elections in 2020, that’s hardly the case.
In plain sight, the plan does more damage than good. AAP’s election campaign has already taken off and appears to gain momentum with each passing day. Meanwhile, its strongest opponent is scurrying to find sure-shot faces.
Moreover, the party is yet to release its list of candidates from 13 crucial constituencies out of 70. As of now, the BJP has come up with a list of 57 candidates. The other 13 constituencies include Arvind Kejriwal’s New Delhi seat among other major constituencies. BJP’s lack of conviction sends a poor message to the electorate.
Given Arvind Kejriwal’s unsurpassed popularity, seems like it has to be a Starwalt like Amit Shah who might have to save BJP’s face contesting against Kejriwal. And even that won’t be enough!
Rifts Within the BJP Delhi Camp
The lust for power has given way to various factions within BJP’s Delhi wing. The party faces a problem of plenty in the Delhi electoral circuit. Manoj Tiwari’s authority has been continually challenged by the likes of Vijay Goel (former Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports, & ex-President of BJP’s Delhi unit), Vijender Gupta (current MLA from Rohini & a vital cog of BJP’s national executive) and Satish Upadhyay (former President BJP’s Delhi division).
One cannot afford to miss out on the existence of a relatively young and dynamic candidate. The son of ex-CM Saheb Singh Verma, Parvesh Verma is a Member of Parliament from the West Delhi seat. But for many, Verma is better suited to take up Tiwari’s position. Various splinter groups exist within the party’s Delhi cadre at the moment. This is a severe impediment for BJP in pulling off a herculean task of unsettling the social democrats in Delhi.
The Mood Of Delhi In 2020
Delhi has undergone some serious transformations in the last couple of decades. Its electoral preferences, interests, and also dynamics have not been sluggish either. The BJP has tried to polarize the electoral landscape by arousing nationalist and communal sentiments. While at the centre, its agenda has thrived, in regional polls, it has failed miserably.
Delhi is truly a cosmopolitan space and in 2020, the voters are unswayed by any kind of divisive extremism. Delhi voting pattern of the last few elections points to inclusive growth and development being the electoral priority. This has led to the national capital voting for a more welfarist state since the late 90s.
Dwindling Delhi Fortune Hints At BJP’s Diminishing National Fate
For long, BJP has tightly held onto a particular section of the society to garner votes. A massive backlash from the student fraternity following the controversial CAA coupled with the onslaught of public educational institutions in Delhi has hurt the BJP’s chances of a comeback in the national capital beyond repair.
It’s perhaps time that the BJP top brass takes stock of the situation and looks beyond its nationalist narrative. Furthermore, there is a need for BJP to remould the party’s orientation and stance. Only then will it be able to accommodate the aspirations of the masses.