With the Delhi elections drawing closer and closer, the question on everyone's minds is whether all the hype around the Aam Aadmi Party is just that - hype.
Multiple surveys have predicted that AAP will make more than just a dent in the Delhi polls, and the latest such study, released by the party itself, claimed that it would win 38 to 50 seats.
AAP leader Yogendra Yadav, while releasing the fourth and fifth round of its survey results, said that even as the party was hit by the sting operation, it estimates to secure 35.6 per cent vote share and get 38 to 50 seats in the polls. If true, this will make AAP the single largest party in the state.
The revelation is not new.
A survey conducted by CNN-IBN and CSDS in October, showed that although Arvind Kejriwal was the most preferred choice for Delhi’s chief minister, 51 percent of those who want Arvind Kejriwal as the chief minister of Delhi want to see Narendra Modi as the country’s prime minister.
However this is the first time that AAP is publicly acknowledging this statistic. Although the connection may not be obvious, it is also, according to political observers, not surprising.
When asked about the profile of AAP and BJP voters, Jai Mrug, political analyst had told Firstpost, “They are exposed to the information technology revolution. They have access to various media which help them making informed choices.”
The second common trait between those who prefer AAP and BJP, Mrug said, is that they believe in candidates who are strong enough to take on the establishment.
“This is where Arvind Kejriwal fits the bill in Delhi. Irrespective of whether his party can solve the crucial issues or not, Kejriwal raised certain issues in a manner which made people believe that he was the real opposition and not the BJP,” he had said.
“Similarly, at the Centre, voters perceive Modi as the only BJP leader or the only national leader for that matter who is decisive and can be the answer to Manmohan Singh. He comes across as someone who has the ability to challenge the Nehru- Gandhi dynasty,” he added.
According to Rajdeep Sardesai, the similarities between Kejriwal and Modi run even deeper:
'Shehzada'; Kejriwal talks of being the "aam admi" representative who will "sweep away" brashtachar with his jhadoo. Both essentially claim to have a similar enemy: the Lutyens elite of Delhi which has ruled the country for much of the last sixty years. Both are looking to position themselves as the outsiders who are not members of any cosy club of privilege.
The attraction of such "outsiders" is obvious. Over the last several years, there has been a growing, legitimate anger against the VIP "khaas admi" culture. The "lal batti" of a government car in particular has come to symbolise a decrepit ruling class which is seen to be distant from real India. Moreover, the VIP culture is seen to represent an unequal state in which some are more privileged than others. By repeatedly questioning the prevailing political order, both Kejriwal and Modi have tried to create the basis for a new form of "us" versus "them" anti establishment politics.
So although the voter bases for the two parties are different (The BJP appeals to the upper class, caste voter while AAP by its own admission is going for the lower income strata in Delhi which has traditionally voted for the Congress) as far as personalities go, both Kejriwal and Modi represent the same thing to the voter fed up with Congress rule. Radical change. The promise of something utterly different to the status quo.
But as Sardesai points out, it is difficult to say right now, if their mass appeal and clear connect with the masses will translate to votes.
As he says: "Their success will depend on just how widespread this mood for change really is. Which is why the Delhi election results are perhaps the most crucial and exciting of the five states going to the polls this winter. If Kejriwal does well in Delhi, it may well be the first real sign that urban India is moving firmly away from the Congress. And that can only be good news for the Modi campaign nationally. On the other hand, a failure for Kejriwal could, ironically, be a warning for the BJP's prime ministerial nominee not to get swayed by media hype."