Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Political equation, ‘Number 4’: Delhi

by D. Dhanuraj

We have witnessed the working out of political equation number 1 in the 15th Loksabha polls followed by the political equation number 2 in Haryana, Maharastra and Jharkhand followed by the political equation number 3 working out at Jammu& Kashmir.

The induction of super cop Kiran Bedi to BJP ranks and the announcement of her as the ‘Chief Ministerial candidate’is considered yet another strategy of Amit Shah and co. to win over the minds of Delhi voters in the upcoming elections. Yet, the pundits say it is going to be a tougher fight for BJP in Delhi as they are facing a different opposition unlike they had in Maharashtra, Haryana or Jharkhand. The unconventional man and the party in Aravind Kejriwal and AAP respectively are said to have retained a sizable vote share in Delhi in spite of their miserable outing of 49 days in Governance last year. What are the chances and the equation that play out in Delhi as of now?
Delhi has a sizable urban middle class and equally poised lower middle class and migrant population and all of them determine the poll outcome. BJP expects the urban middle class will continue their support to the party while AAP believes they will have support from the working class and the lower sections of the society. One factor that could be decisive to the poll outcome would be the approach of the voters to elect a majority government so that they disposition of a hung assembly could be averted for the next five years. This could favour BJP considering AAP’s poor show in the Government last time or belief that AAP would not be able to provide a stable government. With the centre already ruled by BJP, the voters could prefer to elect BJP government locally for better coordination and support.

However, Government employees in Delhi seem to be unhappy with the Modi government for his ‘work culture’. If this is true, this could benefit either AAP or Congress as they don’t want yet another BJP government in Delhi to screw their happy working days and holiday plans. In this context, the strategy of projecting Kiran Bedi as a CM candidate may ruin the prospects of BJP at times since she is known for her tough character and approach to the governance. Sometimes, it is felt that BJP could have projected Dr Harsh Vardhan or Meenakshi Leiki as soft faces to garner more votes. The government employees are still worried about the anti-corruption movement even though it does not have the unusual tag that it had in the last time.  Especially when BJP is ready to accept that there is no Modi wave in Delhi, it obfuscates such a choice.

Visit of Obama and the indications of successful summit outcomes would be another trump card for BJP in Luteyans Delhi. The unprecedented security cover and the normalcy could favor the BJP while even the slightest outrage would dent their chances in the coming weeks. At the same time, one should not rule out for the improved performance by Congress under Ajay Maken’s  leadership. There will be several under currents in Delhi while AAP and the rest of the political groupings in Delhi would come around for vote sharing in a few constituencies. This election helps to revive the fortunes of a principle opposition party even at the local level but could have a national significance. In the case of a victory of BJP, it could be the return of AAP to the centre stage with a bang (it is expected that AAP will finish first or second in the poll). In the case of AAP’s victory, Modi Government will have a definite challenge in AAP under their nose to bother about.

Whatever be the political equation number 4,  I believe, democracy wins at the end of the day in this passing phase of the elections in India.  Witnessing and analyzing these political equations is indeed a great exercise for any Public Policy Researcher.