Will Congress Be A Game Spoiler For AAP?

Delhi state elections are scheduled for 8th February 2020 and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) looks confident about coming back to power. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), contesting only through its poor-propaganda-based advertising and social media trolling, seems to have given a runaway victory to the AAP.

Most of the people are looking at this election as an AAP vs BJP match. But what most of them are missing is the crucial role of the grand old party, the Indian National Congress (INC).

It will be INC’s performance that will determine who forms the next government in Delhi. Although the INC has zero out of 70 seats in the assembly at present, the data of the past few elections will help us get a clear picture of the INC’s decisive role.

In the 2013 Delhi assembly election, when Arvind Kejriwal formed his government for the first time, the AAP managed to get over 29.5% votes (won 28 seats), while the INC and BJP gathered only 24.6% (won 8 seats) and 33% (won 31 seats) votes respectively. Congress’ vote share, compared with 2008’s assembly election, had gone down by 15.7%.

The following year, in the 2014 general election (where BJP won all the seven seats in Delhi), AAP managed to get a 32.9% vote share in Delhi and ranked second in all the seats without defeat. On the other hand, INC ranked third on all seven seats, which it had won in the previous general election and managed to secure a vote share of only 15%.

In the 2014 general election, Kejriwal lost the Varanasi seat to Modi by a massive margin of 3.37 lakh votes

Then came the historical Delhi state election of 2015, when AAP got 67 out of 70 seats, with a vote share of 54.3%. Congress again came down to zero, with a vote share of only 9.7%, while the BJP managed to secure three seats with a vote share of 32.2%. What is noteworthy here is that although the number of seats won by the BJP came down from 31 to three, the party’s vote share observed a dip of not even 1%.

Further, in the 2017 Municipal Corporation of Delhi election, the BJP retained the MCD with 181 seats and 37% vote share, while first-timer AAP secured only 49 seats with only 26% vote share. One must remember that it was the first election for the AAP in Delhi after a roaring mandate in the 2015 Delhi assembly election. Congress again ranked last, by securing 31 seats with a 21% vote share.

Finally in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP again won all seven seats with a vote share of 56.58%. But AAP’s performance sheet got more tainted, as it ranked third in five of the seats, with a vote share of only 18% a dip of 14.9% vote from the previous LS election. Meanwhile, INC’s vote share increased to 22.46% with a swing of 7.36% and ranked second in five seats, as against losing all the last time.

Now, it can be said that voters vote differently in the assembly, MCD and Lok Sabha elections. But if we observe the data closely, the BJP has the most reliable base vote in both 2013 and 2015 state elections, when the BJP secured 31 and three seats respectively, its vote share remarkably remained the same at around 32%. 

Hence, the voters who float are the voters of INC and AAP. If the INC manages to maintain its vote share (~ 20%) in the coming election, then AAP might suffer defeat, or at least be at great risk. With a risen vote share in the 2019 general election, especially with its Muslim voter base, it’s actually the INC who will be the game changer and decide the future of AAP in Delhi. 

BJP’s base vote percentage is more, and it seems that the BJP will manage to secure around 30% in all likeliness though this time, some of the voters who always vote for the BJP and voted for them in the 2019 election are likely to vote for the AAP because of the freebies and other lucrative schemes by the government. Additionally, there is a new but tiny section of voters who want the BJP at the Centre and AAP in Delhi.

The verdict, thus, boils down to winning the floating common voters between the AAP and INC. As one can see, AAP came down to 18% (base vote) in its worst performance, while INC reached below 10% (base vote). If AAP retains the floating vote, then it will come to power by a great margin.

And because of all these reasons, the BJP wants INC to perform well. In its electioneering this time, the BJP is not attacking the Congress the way it is attacking AAP. 

In his latest statement, Deputy C.M. Manish Sisodia said that he stands with the people of Shaheen Bagh, while adding in the same breath that the opening of the Kalindikunj road does not fall under his jurisdiction.This can be seen as a very tactical statement to lure Muslims, Congress’ likely voters. On the other hand, this statement can also prove to be risky. Till now, it seemed that the AAP is opposing CAA and NRC, while maintaining silence on the Shaheen Bagh and JNU protests, in order to please its liberal Hindu vote bank. But Sisodia’s statement might spark new controversies.

Votes of those who don’t want the BJP in power in Delhi will go either to AAP or INC, and the lack of good leaders in INC as well as BJP has made it easy for AAP to grab the opportunity. Its work over the past five years and freebies will only add to Kejriwal’s vote bank and bring him back to power.

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