Delhi polls: BJP banking on votes being split between AAP and Congress, but saffron party needs to widen social support base

  • Speculation is rife that the Centre may make a major announcement to ensure a massive swing of votes in favour of the BJP.

  • The demise of Sheila Dikshit has almost ruled out the possibility of a triangular contest in Delhi and made the stakes higher for the BJP.

  • The emerging political equation in the capital may force the saffron party to look beyond its traditional voter base among the middle income group

Speculation is rife that the Centre may make a major announcement to ensure a massive swing of votes in favour of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ahead of the Assembly election in Delhi.

However, no union minister has hinted at any announcement of freebies or bonanza for Delhiites before the polls.

 Delhi polls: BJP banking on votes being split between AAP and Congress, but saffron party needs to widen social support base

Representational image. PTI

In a couple of months, the capital city is likely to witness a keenly-fought Assembly election. For the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), the upcoming polls would be a fight for existence. Delhi is the only state where it is in power. On the other hand, for the BJP, winning over the state, which has long been out of its fold would mean an ideological victory. The upcoming polls would give a chance to the Congress to become relevant again in a state where it was once the dominant political force.

Along with debates over which political party would have an edge in the elections, discussions about what strategy the political parties would opt for have also gained currency.

What has triggered the speculation?

In 2017, the Centre announced demonetisation before the Uttar Pradesh Assembly election. The move had played a part in the landslide victory won by the BJP.

Though demonetisation was no bonanza of any sort, the announcement shaped the perception for the time being that the Centre was ready to take audacious steps to weed out black money from the economy.

There is anticipation that the BJP-led Centre might come up with an announcement as disruptive as demonetisaton to secure the crucial Delhi win.

Significantly, the AAP-led dispensation in the capital has announced a slew of freebies in recent times to retain voters. It is widely anticipated that any announcement from the BJP camp for Delhiites would not only attempt to dwarf the freebie announcements made by the AAP till now, but also would strive to set a narrative in favour of the saffron party before the polls.

Who will be the beneficiaries?

It is a pertinent question as to which section of the electorate the BJP would seek to target.

The BJP has a sound support base among the middle income group in Delhi. In the 2013 Assembly polls, the BJP bagged 33 percent votes which translated into 31 seats, five short of the majority number. In the 2015 Assembly polls also, the saffron party managed to retain its base among this section of the voters despite a wave in favour of the AAP.

In the Municipal Corporation of Delhi polls held in 2017, the BJP’s vote share was 37 percent, with the AAP and Congress securing a vote share of 26 percent and 21 percent respectively.

In the upcoming polls, a minor increase in vote share is unlikely to help the BJP. The division of votes between the AAP and the Congress, which kept the BJP ahead of the competition in the previous polls, might not happen this time around.

After the demise of veteran Congress leader Sheila Dikshit, the grand old party’s Delhi chapter is facing a leadership crisis. In such a situation, a large chunk of voters in its fold may fall into the AAP’s lap swelling the latter's vote share. Dikshit's demise has almost ruled out the possibility of a triangular contest in Delhi.

The emerging political equation in the capital may force the saffron party to look beyond its traditional voter base among the middle income group. As per the 2011 census, there are nearly 17 lakh people living below the poverty line in the capital. As per another estimate, nearly 50 lakh people live in nearly 1,800 unauthorised colonies.

What could be the announcement?

The AAP is way ahead of other parties in terms of its reach in unauthorised colonies and slum clusters. In fact, Arvind Kejriwal had made his mark in activism and later in politics through his work in slums in East Delhi.

Kejriwal has continued with his outreach programme even after he was elevated to the chief minister's position. In fact, in the last four years the Delhi government has made massive investments in creating health, education and civic infrastructure in these areas.

Sources in the government say that more than Rs 2,500 crores have been spent only in building roads and drains in unauthorised colonies.

Updated Date: Oct 06, 2019 17:14:51 IST