Opinion: Performance Vs Ideology- What’s Deciding The Fate Of Delhi Elections?

With the Delhi assembly election around the corner, the Capital has been witnessing different political narratives, mainly that of the AAP and BJP. These narratives have manifested themselves into a rivalry having two dimensions – politics of identity, and politics of performance.

Ever since the CAA was announced, Delhi has turned into an epicenter of soaring voices against the controversial act passed by the Centre. And with just a little time left for the elections, various political personalities have been giving statements on the issue of disturbance in law and order in the city. While those from AAP party chose to be civil about it, leaders from the BJP may repent their hate speeches and inflammatory remarks on the protestors as well as Kejriwal later.

Not revealing their chief ministerial face for Delhi is a standalone move by the BJP to distract the voters from their actual strategy – of Hindutva-versus-the others. Even though it does not justify their hate speeches, it is something that is keeping them proactive and significant. Along with the question of ‘Kejriwal versus Who?’, a closer look at this vast difference between the two political ideologies leads us to another important question – ‘Kejriwal versus What Kind?’

Kejiwal had challenged Shah for a televised debate if the BJP declares a chief ministerial candidate for the upcoming assembly elections in the city by 5th February.

Remarks made by eminent senior party leaders of the BJP, including Lok Sabha MP Parvesh Sahib Singh Verma and Union Minister Anurag Thakur, are making headlines and pulling the crowd for all the wrong reasons.

Last week, Verma launched a blistering attack on the anti-CAA protestors at Shaheen Bagh, calling them ‘rapists’ and ‘murderers’. He said, “They will enter your houses, rape your sisters and daughters, kill them… There is time today, Modiji and Amit Shah won’t come to save you tomorrow.” Making his anti-community stand clearer than ever, Verma went on to say that the unfortunate incidents of persecution of Kashmiri Pandits can get repeated, as the anti-CAA protestors at Shaheen Bagh can enter homes, and rape and kill women.

Anti-minority slogans such as ‘Desh ke gaddaron ko…goli maaro saalon ko’ were raised at a rally held by Union Minister Anurag Thakur in Rithala. He intensified his voice with a loud ‘Desh ke gaddaron ko’, the audience responding with ‘Goli maaro saalon ko’ was the tip of the iceberg.

With the communally-charged statements of its leaders, BJP’s coherent strategy, that of polarisation and incitement, has come at the forefront. The face of the BJP election campaign in Delhi, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, said in one of his rallies that people should press the BJP button on the EVM so hard, that the current is felt in Shaheen Bagh.

The inciteful actions and statements of the BJP’s senior leaders have been replicated by the party’s junior leaders time and again. BJP leader Kapil Mishra exemplified the Delhi Assembly elections as a conflict between India and Pakistan, saying, “It’s going to be India versus Pakistan on February 8 in Delhi.” He went on to say that “Mini Pakistans” have been created in many places in Delhi and Shaheen Bagh is being replicated at various places.

Addressing a public meeting in Delhi, Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath labeled the protestors at Shaheen Bagh “terrorists”. He also said that the ancestors of these protestors divided India. Transcending from ‘Acche Din’ and ‘Shreshth Bharat’ to ‘Hum’ versus ‘Woh’, the divisive politics and polarising attitude is the only election blueprint of the BJP, at a time when the real issues of discussion in Delhi should be development, economy, and welfare.

In the political war of words, the BJP is leaving no stone unturned in accusing the Kejriwal government of spearheading the protests in the national capital. We heard Yogi Adityanath saying that the Kejriwal government is supplying ‘biryani’ to the protestors at Shaheen Bagh, and that Kejriwal has been taking the aid of Pakistan to mold the elections in his favor. A few days ago, MP Parvesh Verma labeled Arvind Kejriwal a “terrorist”. On getting barred from poll campaign for 24 hours by the Election Commission, he clarified that he wanted to call Kejriwal a “Naxalite”, which didn’t help.

On the contrary, Aam Aadmi Party’s manifesto has been projected on the lines of addressing issues such as education, health, transport, and women’s security. The party has been speaking outright about the idea of good governance. Several leaders of the party have asked for votes based on the implementation of these ideas in the past and plans in future.

AAP National Convener Arvind Kejriwal, time and again, has talked about local issues that have amplified the party’s connection with people. Recently, these detailed debates and discussions have even transitioned to a recitation of ‘Hanuman Chalisa’. Despite provocation from all sides, his approach towards the Shaheen Bagh issue has also been neutral. This style of positive campaigning is giving AAP an edge over the BJP, which has only rendered a ‘nationalist’ narrative into a state election.

The responses of the AAP leaders, however, have been carefully inclined towards asking the public about the credibility of the claims and remarks made by BJP leaders, rather than an unthoughtful and inconsiderate attack on them.

The election’s result on 11th February will provide an insight into which political narrative has more weightage. The elections will be a testimony to the people of Delhi at a time when the political environment is heated due to several other issues in the periphery.

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