BJP and AAP Main Players in Delhi, Congress can be a Spoiler



By Lalit Sethi

Delhi will elect a new Assembly by February 10, going to the polls on February 7, according to an Election Commission announcement. If there is a clear result, Delhi will have a new government of its own after more than a year since Mr. Kejriwal resigned as Chief Minister. The last House saw a government in office for just 49 days and after that that the legislature was moribund. The Union Territory has been under President’s Rule since then.

It returned to being a hung House, which has since been dissolved. Does that fate await Delhi yet once more? Perhaps it is not so. For one thing the BJP, even then the largest single party with 30 seats, six short of an overall majority, is determined not to lose the game this time round.

All the main parties are ready for the elections. They have almost completed the process of selection of their candidates for the 70 seats. They have also announced their strategies.

Surprisingly, Mrs. Sheila Dikshit, the defeated Chief Minister of Delhi, last year, who was routed in New Delhi by Mr. Arvind Kejriwal, leader of the fledgling Aam Adami Party, has announced that the Congress may support AAP in the new Assembly if no party gets a majority.

It is not a case of once bitten twice shy. But the simple reason that the Congress in Delhi, which won only eight seats last year, may be expecting to do better. The new face of Congress is Ajay Maken. Its vote share in poll to Cantonment Board has improved.

Whether the Delhi BJP is still a house divided or now united under orders of Mr. Modi, Mr. Shah and Mr. Ram Lal, the RSS nominated BJP general secretary, to oversee the Delhi unit of the party, are wielding a strong stick over dissenters, is perhaps not a matter of conjecture.

Have they threatened the “rebels” in the party ranks with severe punishment and worse fate if they let down the party’s chosen candidates? There need be no doubt about it as the determined Central High Command, which will not and does not brook any nonsense from any one, believes in victory and not defeat, from its recent record victories in the Lok Sabha and several States which have gone to the polls, except Kashmir Valley.

But even in Jammu and Kashmir BJP hopes to reach agreement with the People’s Democratic Party in a few months to form a coalition government even if it may not succeed in ensuring that a BJP leader from Jammu will be its first Chief Minister. It is waiting for results in Delhi before striking a deal with PDP.

The Prime Minister addressed a rally in Ramlila Ground of New Delhi on January 10 and promised Delhi 24×7 power supply, three smart cities in Rohini, Dwarka and Narela, besides good governance and restoration of electric rickshaws for free movement of people in many areas, most of which are not fully covered by buses or Metro Rail. The attendance was, however below expectation.

The Prime Minister asked if Delhi would wish to be ruled by a man who was a self-confessed “anarchist”. Should Mr. Arvind Kejriwal rule Delhi or go to the forests and join Naxalite people? Mr. Narendra Modi asked rhetorically.

Good governance would ensure women’s security if BJP wins the elections in Delhi, he said.

Mr. Kejriwal said 15 Chief Ministers, including Mr. Narendra Modi, Mr. Karunanidhi and Ms. Jayalalitha, had protested by a sit-in. His protest outside Rail Bhavan as Chief Minister before Republic Day earlier this year at the height of winter was not a solitary case. Yet he had been called “confrontationist”.

He had engaged in three “dharnas” or “sit-ins” in the year before he became Chief Minister. He claimed to be peaceful and not violent. A sit-in was his fundamental right. The Delhi BJP had organized 20 “dharnas” last year on public issues.

Anna Hazare had been protesting by holding sit-ins for 20 years in support of the rights of poor people, but he and his supporters were never violent. Kejriwal claimed he was not violent either, nor his AAP people.

Kejriwal says he resigned as Chief Minister because the Congress did not let him function and he feared his government would be brought down in the Assembly. This is the first time he is saying so to another news anchor, News X, on Januaryu 12.

One Hindi news channel has quoted a survey that Kejriwal could expect 41 per cent of the popular vote and BJP might get 31 per cent of the vote. Apparently this report is just a balloon in the air even though Kejriwal expects an outright majority.

Contrast this with BJP winning an outright majority in Lok Sabha with 31 to 34 per cent popular vote and outright victory in 89 Lok Sabha seats. In 190 Lok Sabha seats, the popular vote was divided by many losing candidates, giving the BJP an edge. That is the story of Indian elections and it is in this system of first past the post that Congress won many of the 15 General Elections and Assembly elections around the country.

Dummy candidates being put up by the ruling or important parties has been a common practice in the past and cannot be curbed. The Election Commission will now publish the pictures of all candidates and try to check the symbols of candidates which resemble those of the main parties to try and ensure a fair election in Delhi. Will this work, but are the parties capable of looking for new or old loopholes to beat the system? —


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