Ahead of Delhi Assembly polls, BJP banks on Modi's appeal to take on Arvind Kejriwal, desists from naming CM face

  • In Delhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not yet projected any chief ministerial face for the upcoming Assembly polls.

  • Instead, the party appears to be relying on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charisma to take on the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

  • Kejriwal's image and the governance projects identified with him have been the focus of the AAP in its political rallies.

In Delhi, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has not yet projected any chief ministerial face for the upcoming Assembly polls, which are due by the end of 2019 or early next year. Instead, the party appears to be relying on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charisma to take on the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal is the AAP's face for the Assembly polls. His image and the governance projects identified with him have been the focus of the six-year-old party in its political rallies.

 Ahead of Delhi Assembly polls, BJP banks on Modis appeal to take on Arvind Kejriwal, desists from naming CM face

File image of BJP flags. AFP

The AAP has sought to build a narrative of welfare and development centred around Kejriwal. To counter this narrative, the saffron party would need a state-level leader with a better mass connect than the Delhi chief minister. This may be the reason why the BJP has been reluctant in announcing a chief ministerial candidate.

Kejriwal's decade-long experience in social movements in Delhi also works in his favour.

Over the past few years, many allegations of corruption and misconduct have been made against Kejriwal. For instance, former AAP MLA Kapil Mishra accused him of accepting a bribe of Rs 2 crore. However, the CBI gave the Delhi chief minister a clean chit. Despite such allegations, Kejriwal's public image remains untainted.

Also, while there have been complaints of ineptitude against Kejriwal, the Delhi chief minister has sought to deflect the blame on the Centre. He has pointed to the fact that the Centre retains several important powers pertaining to the administration of the National Capital Territory.

If the BJP decides to base its poll campaign on Modi's persona, it will not be under pressure to find a chief ministerial candidate who enjoys better public approval than Kejriwal. Indeed, since 2014, the BJP has greatly benefited from the prime minister's popularity in most Assembly elections. This is, therefore, the BJP's best bet.

As Delhi is not a full-fledged state, the argument that such a strategy defies the principle of a federal democracy does not hold much water,

In the 2013 Assembly polls, the BJP bagged 33 percent votes and in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls held in 2017, its vote share was 37 percent. However, in the Lok Sabha elections of 2014 and 2019, the party's vote share in Delhi was 46.40 percent and 56.58 percent respectively. This suggests that the ‘Modi’ factor could be effective for the BJP in the Delhi Assembly elections as well.

 

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Updated Date: Oct 13, 2019 19:36:48 IST