April 17, 2014

DELHI & LOK SABHA 2014


WHO WILL STORM DELHI?


Now I do not think anybody will disagree when I say that the Delhi elections were arguably the most keenly contested amongst all polls in 2013. After 15 years of being in power, the capital voted out its longest serving CM Sheila Dixit as the INC crawled to a tally of eight. The BJP, in spite of doing exceedingly well in MP, Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan could not cross the half way mark on its own. And the phenomenal success of the AAP, fighting its maiden electoral battle was mesmerizing with many hailing it as the new beginning in Indian politics. With no party winning a majority, Arvind Kejriwal did a volte face, taking the support from the same INC which he had termed as 'corrupt' during the campaign. The short lived AAP government did deliver on some of its promises till the INC pulled the plug following differences over the Lokpal Bill. And many say that it was here that Kejri & Co. lost the plot. At a time when they had not established themselves in Delhi, the outfit decoded to go national. In fact, I would not be wrong to say that a certain section of AAP supporters have questioned the logic behind all this. The backdrop has been set just on the eve of the Union Elections. In fact, one of the biggest talking points this elections is after all the dharnas, the drama and the hung assembly, who will win the nation's capital in this triangular contest.

ISSUES

(1) Corruption: It was at Ramleela Maidan in the heart of Delhi that Anna Hazare and his team launched the hunger strike which ended capturing the conscience of the entire country. While the Gandhian may have had an ugly split with Kejriwal in the later months, the issue of corruption continues to be the biggest talking point of Lok Sabha 2014. The never ending list of scams that have rocked UPA II including 2G, Railgate, Coalgate and even the Delhi Common Wealth Games have tarnished the name of the Manmohan regime. The Congress is clearly on the backfoot. However, even BJP cannot claim to be hold the upper hand on this after accepting tainted leaders like B S Yeddyurappa and B Sriramalu back into the party fold.

(2) Bijli, Sadak aur Paani: One of the issues on which the AAP fought the last state elections was reduction of power tariffs and 24 hour water supply to the people of the city. In fact, after coming to power, the party stayed true to its word. Now, in the run up to the big polls, the party is set to talk about its achievements in its 49 day regime. Meanwhile, price rise and uncontrolled inflation have been the other hallmarks of the last Union government. The BJP has accused the incumbent regime of failing to bring relief to the common man.

(3) Women's Safety: Apart from corruption, if there is one more issue which has grabbed all the eyeballs in the last three years, it is the safety o the women across the country. it was the brutal gang rape and murder of the 23 year old 'Nirbhaya' in a moving bus in the capital which reminded us of how much more needs to be done in this regards. Former Delhi minister Somanth Bharati's mid night raid and alleged 'harassment' of some Nigerian women has hit his party's standing. The BJP and the AAP have fielded female candidates in some of the parliamentary seats to draw political mileage out of the situation.

(4) Social Fabric: Being the cosmopolitan city that it is, the politics here continues to be split along caste and ethnic lines. The capital attracts large number of migrants, most from Haryana, UP and Bihar. The Muslims form nearly 10 percent of the total population in the state. Similarly, the Sikhs too are a sizable minority. Which way these groups vote may end up affecting the results in quite a few constituencies.

CONTENDERS

(1) Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP): After winning 31 seats in the recently concluded state assembly polls, the saffron camp is hoping to reverse its disastrous defeat in 2009 where it drew a blank. The BJP is riding on the Modi wave as well as the bad performance of the Congress led UPA in its second term to reclaim its former 'citadel'. Buoyed by its good showing in 2013, the party knows that winning big here will not only help it in its 'Mission 272+' but also help crush the AAP. The party has fielded heavyweights - former CM nominee Dr. Harsh Vardhan (Chandni Chowk), Bhojpuri actor Manoj Tiwari (North East Delhi) and spokesperson Meenakshi Lekhi (New Delhi).

(2) Aam Admi Party (AAP): After a spectacular debut, probably the best in recent times, there are lots of expectations from Kejriwal's outfit. In fact, at the time when Arvind Kejriwal took oath as the CM of India's capital, many thought that the revolution that was AAP would soon spread across the country. Of course, there is endless debate regarding the the timing of Kejriwal's resignation. However, that is something we will discuss later. Meanwhile, Delhi is extremely crucial for the AAP, not only in Lok Sabha 2014 but also for its political future. Its nominees include former state minister Rakhi Birla (North-West Delhi), journalist Ashutosh (Chandi Chowk) and Gandhiji's grandson Raj Mohan (East Delhi).

(3) Congress: The grand old party may be down but is certainly not out. It may have been reduced to single digits but the Lok Sabha polls is a different story all together. Some of the party's biggest names come from here including a few Central ministers - Kapil Sibal (Chandi Chowk), Ajay Maken (New Delhi) and Krishan Tirath (North West Delhi). Besides, Sandeep Dixit - the son of former CM Sheila Dixit has been renominated from East Delhi.

PAST PERFORMANCES

The National Capital Territory of Delhi has been a swing state as far as politics is concerned, with one of the two major national parties sweeping it. Between 1996 and 1999, it was a BJP bastion with the saffron outfit increasing its tally by 1 each time. In 1999, as the NDA formed its government under Vajpayee, the capital region gave a big thumbs up to the saffronists. On the other hand, in the last two General Elections, the Congress has had the upper hand. In 2009, exactly ten year after that disastrous rout, the INC extracted sweet revenge from its rival winning the state 7-0.

Political Party
2009
2004
1999
1998
1996
Congress
7
6
-
1
2
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
-
1
7
6
5

MY PREDICTIONS

The fight is between the BJP and the AAP. However, the manner in which the Kejriwal-led government resigned in haste is clearly affecting his party's prospects in the General polls. The saffron camp, in my opinion holds the edge. The Congress is no where in the picture.

Political Party
Expected Seats
1
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
3-5
2
Aam Admi Party (AAP)
1-3
3
Congress
0-1

WATCH OUT

(1) Litmus Test for the AAP: The upcoming polls in many ways will determine the future of the Aam Admi Party. After that fairy tale debut, the party became the toast of ht nation till it resigned after failing to get consensus on the Jan Lokpal Bill. Many in the country think that the move was a blunder. Moreover, in a bid to generate political mileage out of this, the party decided to go national and has fielded candidates across the country. While it may not do too well in other states, Delhi is extremely crucial as it is where the party was born. If the party fails, then it will be a big blow and would adversely impact its performance in the state polls too.

(2) The State Polls: After the Congress withdrew its support to the AAP regime in February this year, it is expected that the polls to the state legislative polls will be held sometime this year. And there is no doubt that whosoever wins Delhi in the General Elections will naturally have an upper hand in the state elections too. An NDA win will make the BJP firm favorites; a third term of the UPA, though highly unlikely will give a big boost to the INC whereas AAP will better its tally if they can win the maximum parliamentary seats here.

Other posts in this series:
(1) Karnataka & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(2) Rajasthan & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(3) Maharashtra & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(4) Goa & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(5) Kerala & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(6) Assam & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(7) Tripura & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(8) Haryana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(9) Chhattisgarh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(10) Jammu Kashmir & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(11) Madhya Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(12) Telangana & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(13) Bihar & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(14) Jharkhand & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(15) Sikkim & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(16) Arunachal Pradesh & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(17) Nagaland & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(18) Manipur & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(19) Meghalaya & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)
(20) Mizoram & Lok Sabha 2014 (Link)