Few have missed the Delhi government’s Dengue awareness campaign repeatedly broadcasted on national news channels featuring Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. But ever wondered why the Delhi chief minister and not the state health minister figures in the health and hygiene awareness campaign ad?
The answer is simple. With elections around the corner, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) is striving hard to refurbish Kejriwal’s role as the party’s mascot in campaigns and the Dengue awareness ad is only a part of the plan.
Even before the AAP went on full campaign mode, the party launched ‘I love Kejriwal’ campaign as a prologue to its poll strategy.
As part of the campaign, the party painted the slogan "I Love Kejriwal" behind auto-rickshaws and also distributed pamphlets among the public.
The campaign also attempted to involve people by urging them to give a miss call on 9871010101 to join the campaign and express support to the incumbent chief minister.
The intent behind re-positioning Kejriwal as the party mascot seems to be to exploit the vacuum that exists in the state’s politics. The party is projecting the Delhi chief minister as the only credible face in the non-BJP front.
It is noteworthy that the AAP registered a landslide victory in the 2015 Assembly polls after it managed to project itself as the only alternative to the Congress, on account of which a large chunk of the grand old party’s voters switched to AAP's side. But in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls, the AAP saw the return of these voters to the Congress fold which resulted in a debacle for the six-year-old party.
The demise of former Delhi chief minister Sheila Dixit, the most prominent face in Delhi Congress has caused a leadership crisis in the grand old party. Kejriwal seems keen on exploiting this vacuum to AAP’s advantage by projecting himself as the most prominent face in the non-BJP front.
The statement of Delhi minister Gopal Rai at the launch of 'I love Kejriwal' campaign is well indicative of this strategy.
"In Delhi, there is no face in the BJP or Congress who can fight Kejriwal. The Congress is completely over after the demise of Sheila Dixit and the BJP leaders are busy fighting among themselves for the chief minister's post. BJP leaders are fighting only for their own. Only Kejriwal is fighting for the public interest," Rai told India Today.
Sources in the AAP also say that not only Kejriwal but even the govt welfare chemes which people identify with the Delhi chief minister are also likely to feature prominently in the party’s poll campaign.
"The Mohalla Clinics, the improvements in Delhi's education sector and changes in the power sector of the capital city have not only touched lives but are also identified with Kejriwal. The election campaign is designed around these government schemes. We are soon going to release videos about these schemes for a social media campaign,” said a source in the party.
No wonder then that the party has recently grown vocal about its target of setting up of 1,000 Mohalla Clinics yet again. Though the Delhi government had set this target in the year 2015 itself, the number of such clinics opened till now is not more than 201.
Delhi health minister Satyendar Jain in a recent briefing to the press said, “The Delhi government is much confident about meeting its overall target of building 1,000 Mohalla Clinics by the end of this year. Currently, the number of mohalla clinics is 201 and the self-imposed target of building 1,000 of them is something which the government is committed (to fulfil).”
In a major boost to the scheme, the Delhi government is also planning to run the Mohalla Clinics under a special committee with individual budgetary allocations.
The party’s intent to portray the facelift in the capital city’s government education sector as a major turn-around was evident at the launch of a book named Shiksha written by Delhi education minister Manish Sisodiya on 5 September.
While participating in the programme also attended by the former president of India Pranab Mukherjee, Kejriwal said, “The work in the field of education in Delhi in the last five years has been watched by the entire country and the world. Many say it is not less than a revolution. Uniform education to all students is a dream of the whole country. Our idea was to improve and better government schools so that people get their children shifted to them from private ones."
Also, by reducing the power tariff substantially in Delhi just a few months before the Assembly elections, Kejriwal has shown that he is not willing to lose his grip over the ‘development and welfare’ narrative. He has also shown that he is determined to derive the maximum political mileage out of it.
Making the announcement on reducing power tariff for the residents of the national capital, Kejriwal, in a press conference had said, “The Delhi government has decided to provide free electricity to domestic consumers using up to 200 units every month. Consumers using power between 201 to 400 units every month will be getting 50 percent subsidy on their electricity bills.”
The move to reduce power tariff has benefitted 26 lakhs consumers as per an AAP source.
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Updated Date: Sep 18, 2019 23:14:08 IST