By Naomi Hazarika:
The walls of every second metro in Delhi are either plastered with saffron posters of Modi’s grinning face or pictures of the broom with Arvind Kejriwal as AAP’s mascot. As Delhi gets ready to go to elections again on the 7th of February 2015, speculations are running high as to who will end up with how big a chunk of the electorate. There are 70 seats in the Legislative Assembly of Delhi up for grabs, out of which neither of the major parties could score the magic majority number last time around. 33.1% seats went to the Bharatiya Janata Party, 29.5% to the Aam Aadmi Party and 24.6% to the Indian National Congress. After the BJP could not form the government, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi Najeeb Jung invited AAP to attempt to form the government as it was the second largest party after the BJP. AAP managed to form a minority government with outside support from the Congress for which it was heavily criticised. AAP’s leader Arvind Kejriwal followed outgoing Sheila Dixit as Chief Minister, but the government could not last very long. He resigned after 49 days citing unsuccessful attempts to pass the Jan Lokpal Bill as his reason for resigning.
As the fervour of democracy sweeps the city, leading opinion polls have their own story to tell. The latest poll by ABP News-Nielsen published on the 15th of January 2015 predicts that the BJP would win 34 seats, AAP would be in the second place with 28 and Congress will grab 8 seats. India Today, as of December last year, predicted that the vote share would be 36% for AAP, 39% for BJP and 16% for Congress. Most of the opinion polls have one thing in common, the fact that this is going to be a head on fight between the BJP and AAP. Newspapers and news channels are split on the issue of who will manage to take away the largest chunk, but with the BJP stepping up its game, predictions of the lotus outnumbering the broom are many. The Bharatiya Janata Party had till now run its game on the Modi card, with his mantras of prosperity and development spearheading the party’s pre-election events. It was Modi’s face on most of the posters in Delhi with the occasional presence of Amit Shah in the background. But the party leadership realised that calling AAP “anarchist” and a “failure” will not suffice. The party lacked a face, and Arvind Kejriwal is winning hearts around the city. So, to counter the local hero, BJP played the best move ever – it brought in Kiran Bedi as its mascot. Although the party has not released any official statement confirming this, but the fact that Amit Shah as well as Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley were present during her induction into the BJP shows how important a role she will be playing for the party. A pristine image and widespread respect for the former IPS officer makes her the best candidate to fight the war against AAP’s leader Kejriwal. AAP, on the other hand, is continuing its campaign on the pattern it ran during the last elections, with door to door campaigning and promises of free water and Wi-Fi for the entire city. In general, even though the party lost a sizeable chunk of its supporters due to its disappointing performance last time around, AAP continues to be the city’s favourite choice. The BJP realises the fact that it has to put up a fight against AAP if it wants a clear mandate.
Meanwhile Congress stands, if not worse, in a much more irrelevant position with regard to the elections. With old and half-meant promises of ‘development’, a few posters on the alleys of the rarely visited DMRC Airport line, the Congress isn’t invisible just in the opinion polls. With the dynamic popularity of Arvind versus the Bedi-Modi coalition, The Times of India is calling the fight a presidential style election. Kiran Bedi’s stint in activism and experience in the bureaucracy seems to be a tough factor to counter, but Arvind Kejriwal is not leaving any stones stone unturned. Whether or not the elections would result in a clear majority of either of the two parties, only time will tell. But till then, the capital is gearing up for the fight between the best which one can only hope will successfully manage to yield a result that will no longer hold governance to ransom.