Will Modi-Bedi appeal be outdone by a charismatic Kejriwal?
Most exit polls are now suggesting that AAP will have a comfortable majority in the Delhi elections. In all probability AAP will have 45 seats and BJP will have 25 seats. Congress is likely to score a blank. This will be a big blow for both BJP and Congress, and a big thumbs up for Mr. Kejriwal who is likely to stop the ‘Vijay rath’ (victory chariot) of Narendra Modi– right in the centre of the Hindi heartland.
This reminds us of Luv and Kush of Ramayana, the two teenager sons of Lord Ram who could halt the victory horse of their father, the Emperor of India. Many are wondering how did this strange phenomenon happen when BJP had swept the Lok Sabha polls in Delhi. In the last Assembly elections of November 2013, BJP had got 34% votes in Delhi, AAP 29.5 % and Congress 25%. During Lok Sabha elections, in May 2014 the BJP vote had swelled to 47% because of Modi magic and general apathy to Congress due to UPA misrule. That situation was quite different from today’s situation.
In Delhi Assembly elections there is a serious rival in Kejriwal and now people may vote for him because he is not a contender for Prime Minister’s post. So we have to compare this election with the Assembly election of 2013. BJP’s vote percentage is increasing from 34% to 36%. Even then why is BJP being swept out by AAP? The Congress vote of 25% has completely disintegrated because the Congress voters thought that a vote to Congress would be a wasted vote as Congress simply had no chance of coming to power.
They had to choose a new alternative shelter and most of them (14 out of 25 ) chose the AAP as their new habitat, the faithful 11 out of 25 still remain with the Congress. So in this election, the vote distribution is something like this…BJP 36%, AAP 43.5% and Congress 11%. With 11% votes Congress, probably, cannot win a single seat and with 43.5% votes AAP can defeat the BJP(36% support) in as many as 45 to 50 seats. If the charisma of Modi and Kiran Bedi could drag up the BJP support to 40% reducing the AAP support to 39.5% the tables would have been turned on the AAP and BJP could have managed to get 38 to 39 seats.
But this may not happen because inspite of Modi – Bedi magic, the Congress voters, who are predominantly Muslims, Christians, under privileged poor people who live in the under developed outskirts of Delhi were not attracted to Modi/ Bedi. Besides there was an appeal from the Shahi Imam to Muslims to vote for AAP.
Modi stands for a strong India, both in economic and military might, business and employment, rapid development, strong foreign relations. Kiran Bedi stands for the might of administration and police, whom the poor fear. These are all distant matters for the common voters.
Their immediate concern is ‘bijli,pani, bhrashtachaar mukt sarkaar’ that will make their every day life easier. Kejriwal appeared to be a more dependable figure in their eyes compared to Modi/ Bedi, being closer to the ground. The Muslims and Christians do not fear him because he is not associated with VHP and RSS.
Delhi has a large population of middle class government employees. Many of them could have ditched the BJP because Modi has not yet granted them what Manmohan Singh had promised before quitting. The 7th pay commission has not yet been named and 50% DA has not yet been clubbed with basic pay. Pensioners, who depend on bank interests for survival, are unhappy because of the downward trend of RBI rates. Human beings are basically very selfish and short term goals are more important to them, compared to rosy dreams of a distant future.
The Delhi phenomenon could reverberate in Bihar, UP and Bengal also, where elections are due very soon. The Modi government must take immediate measures to rectify their mistakes because the break down of Congress every where could lead to the confused Congress voters rushing to which ever regional party is popular in that area.
Congress voters in Bengal could rush to TMC, confused Congress voters of Punjab could rush to AAP and Congress voters of UP could rush to the Samajwadi Party. BJP could suffer in all these states. It is an irony of fate that the total collapse of the Congress is hurting the BJP also.
A senior journalist recently remarked that perhaps BJP has realised this truth and their volunteers were seen helping the Congress in Delhi. When there were no crowds to cheer Rahul Gandhi in his Delhi rallies, BJP volunteers were seen getting crowds for Rahul’s rallies. BJP has, perhaps, realised that if Congress collapses totally the BJP ship may also be pulled downwards. BJP should also vigorously find out ways of attracting Muslim and Christian voters. In UP and Bengal if a substantial number of Muslims cannot be attracted to BJP, it will be very difficult to win the Assembly elections. Muslims are 19% in UP and 27% in Bengal.
(Amit Kushari (IAS, Retd.) is former Financial Commissioner, J&K. Feedback at email@example.com or contact at 09748635185)