With elections to the 70-member Less than a month before the Delhi General Assembly, the BJP, Congress and AAP are busy sharpening their respective voting strategies from candidate selection to campaigning to calculating box arithmetic. The Delhi elections will not only trigger the first election campaign in 2020, but also after the BJP lost power in five states last year and underperformed in a sixth. The conditions for elections will be created in six states over the next 18 months. Bihar is elected in the second half of the year. In 2021, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Puducherry, West Bengal and Assam will be elected.
The choice of candidates is the main challenge for all three rivals. The fact that it is managed by the national leaders of the Congress and the BJP in micro enterprises underlines the importance of the national capital's profit. The BJP team held two consecutive marathon sessions chaired by no less than the Minister of the Union for Home Amit Shah to finalize the candidates. In the congressional camp, party chairman Sonia Gandhi himself led the discussions about the party candidates. AAP has retained 46 MLAs, dropped another 15, and added 24 new names. It is also Field Atishi, Raghav Chadha and Dilip Pandey who contested but lost the 2019 general election.
Arvind Kejriwal remains the toughest challenger of the BJP in Delhi. The AAP boss successfully mastered the Modi wave in 2015 and led his party to an overwhelming majority in the meeting survey with 67 out of 70 seats and a vote share of 54.3 percent.
In 2020, however, the Prime Minister of Delhi cannot take it for granted. Firstly, AAP's share of the vote fell to 26 percent within two years. This resulted from the election results for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi in 2017. In the general elections in 2019, AAP also took last place in the triangular race. In contrast, the proportion of votes in Congress, whose support base has shifted massively to AAP, has risen from 15 Percent shifted in 2014 and 10 percent in 2015 to 23 percent in 2019 In 2014 and 2019 there were seven Lok Sabha seats in the state. The Saffron Party led in 65 of the 70 meeting segments in 2019, Congress in the remaining five, while AAP was nowhere.
While the vote share of the BJP, the third in the competitions, is consistently above 30 percent in all elections, the congress only has to keep its vote share from 2019 in order to make the Delhi competition triangular. However, any fluctuation in the vote from AAP to the Congress will favor the BJP in close competition, as this means that the non-BJP votes will be divided. For example, in 2019 the votes of both the planned castes and the Muslims of the two communities, which by and large do not vote for the BJP, were split between the Congress and the AAP. In 2015, AAP won 10 seats where the profit margin was less than 10 percent of the total valid votes cast. In a further 22 seats, the margin was below 20 percent. The challenge for Kejriwal next month is to keep his influence in these constituencies.
AAP tries to do this, among other things, by strategically changing the campaign guidelines. Under the leadership of election strategist Prashant Kishor, AAP has decided to conduct the election based on good governance. “Within a few minutes of the Indian election commission announcing the dates for the new Delhi elections, Kejriwal posted on Twitter on January 6th: Yeh chunav kaam par hoga (this election will be held on a performance basis).
The Delhi government budget has doubled from 31,000 rupees to 60,000 rupees. Almost two-fifths of these have gone to education and health in the past five years, says an AAP chief who also works with the government. The party is banking on initiatives such as the Mohalla clinics, the happiness curriculum and the improvement of public school infrastructure to win a second semester in Delhi. In the past six months, the Kejriwal government has announced that women are allowed to drive on DTC buses without restrictions. free electricity up to 200 units and a 50 percent subsidy for the consumption of up to 400 units; Installation of CCTVs and free WiFi.
Of course, the BJP has no problems catching up. Party leaders, including the Prime Minister, are calling on parliament to pass a law regulating nearly 2,000 unauthorized colonies in Delhi.
Kejriwal plays with his government and takes care not to launch personal attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He was among the first opposition leaders to support the termination of Kashmir's special status under Article 370 by the Union government. Even though Delhi was the epicenter of protests against the 2019 Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), Kejriwal only questioned the timing of the legislation in interviews, and didn't make it an election problem yet. He (Kejriwal) believes that the problem polarizes people only on TV screens, it will not affect the polls, says a leader who works with the CM. Instead of presenting Modi as a challenger, Kejriwal acts as someone who wants to govern Delhi better. According to Sanjay Singh, a member of AAP Rajya Sabha and responsible for the Delhi elections, local elections are held in Delhi. We saw that national issues were not considered in the Maharashtra and Jharkhand surveys.
What also gives Kejriwal and AAP an advantage over Congress and the BJP is that both national parties have not announced their Prime Minister. Unlike in Jharkhand, where it fought under the leadership of Raghubar Das, the BJP does not designate a prime minister in Delhi to prevent disputes between the president of several applicants, Manoj Tewari, Union Minister Harsh Vardhan and MPs Vijay Goel and Parvesh Verma. Instead, the BJP has announced it will take part in the Delhi elections on behalf of Prime Minister Modi. They also learned a bitter lesson from the 2015 election when the Kiran party announced CM candidate against Kejriwal, but they couldn't even win their own seat. Many insiders said the party's grassroots workers were demoralized that an outsider had been found.
With a below-average performance in Haryana and Maharashtra after a spectacular election result and the loss in Jharkhand, the BJP revises its election strategy in Delhi. Congress had been a major player in both Haryana and Maharashtra, and the attack on Rahul Gandhi led to results. But the struggle for Delhi will be like in Jharkhand, where the BJP had to face regional Stalwarts. The party has therefore placed its hopes on the CAA to deliver Delhi. The saffron party expects to benefit from the polarization of legislation. Even though the popular perception is that state and national elections are held on different topics, the BJP sources believe that the CAA is a national issue that can have regional resonance, and that the anti-Muslim dimension of the new law is its Hindu one Voice will solidify. The congress, on the other hand, hopes to benefit from anti-CAA mobilization, especially among young people and Muslims. The latter made up 12 to 13 percent of the population in Delhi in 2011. If they vote together, Muslim voters can influence the outcome of the Delhi general election in about 10 seats. The congress still has to clarify its leadership question. The party does not have a charismatic local leader with mass support and strong organizational skills.
The three parties also have to deal with the box equations. Purvanchali voter migrants from the east of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand make up 25 to 30 percent of the voters and can influence the results in around 25 constituencies. While the BJP has the Bhojpuri actor and President Manoj Tewari as Purvanchali strong, Congress has urged Kirti Azad, the former Indian cricketer from Bihar, to recruit them. AAP hopes to maintain its overall success in Purvanchali-dominated constituencies due to its local work.
The BJP, which has maintained its vote share of over 30 percent since the 1990s, traditionally relies on upper caste Hindus, which make up 40 percent of the voters, 12 percent Brahmins, 7 percent each from Punjabi Khatris and Rajputs, 6 percent each from Jains and Baniyas and 8 percent of Jains and Baniyas, according to a report by the Center for Developing Society Research (CSDS) in Delhi.
The Punjabi voter, who makes up around 35 percent of Delhi voters, can influence the election result in 25 seats. Sikh voters can influence almost 15 constituencies. Box arithmetic will certainly play a major role in the ticket distribution of all three parties.
Delhi may not be a full-fledged state, but elections to its assembly are of national importance. If Kejriwal remains in power, he will be ranked among the top opponents of the BJP. Another state loss for the BJP in nationwide protests against the CAA will severely affect the political strength of the Saffron Party to push through its ideology-driven agenda.
In the event of a hanging assembly, in which Congress must support an AAP government, the party is increased by one state, signaling a slow but significant revival in its assets. But if the BJP dethrones Kejriwal and forms a government, this will be seen as a mini-vote for the CAA. It will also be a psychological boost for the BJP ahead of the Bihar election this year.