Delhi polls: How Kejriwal and AAP humbled BJP's star campaigner PM Modi

New Delhi: It’s not over yet. Polling is three days away, and in elections the public mood often changes overnight, throwing up unexpected results. Whatever the verdict, the biggest story in this election in Delhi would be the humbling of the mighty Narendra Modi. In Arvind Kejriwal the BJP’s mascot has found his match, charisma for charisma, trick for trick and sound byte for sound byte.

When it all began, it was supposed to be a Modi versus all affair. Like elsewhere in the country he was expected to lead the party’s charge for one more victory. With a couple of days to go nothing seems to have gone according to the script. That the BJP has to resort to what appear to be dirty tricks and below the belt attacks in its fight against Kejriwal reveals that Modi has given up. The party is no more confident that his presence would do the trick for them.

Perhaps the BJP’s plight today – most surveys suggest it won’t come to power – is a case of overconfidence or complacency or wrong strategising. It took Modi’s infallibility for granted. For a party that has consistently played out the larger than life image of the prime minister, it was wrong to pit him directly in a personality battle against Kejriwal. It helped the AAP convenor get unprecedented media coverage. In a series of mistakes after that right from the projection of Kiran Bedi as the chief ministerial candidate the BJP has played right into the hands of the AAP. Kejriwal is doing a “Modi” on them just the way the latter had turned the tables on Congress-led UPA last May.

As the run up to voting day comes nearer, the pitch of the election campaign is moving at abnormally higher speeds. While Bedi has been busy trying to wrestle between changing her attitude to “people friendly” and opposition from local workers, it is Kejriwal who has run away with the advantage.

So much so that this election has become all about him, that one person called Kejriwal rather than any other burning issue in the capital. BJP finds itself in a catch-22 situation, if it decides to field Narendra Modi openly then they have accepted that Kiran has lost the battle, and by persisting with her they are already losing the war of perception.

 Delhi polls: How Kejriwal and AAP humbled BJPs star campaigner PM Modi

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal. PTI

“I can be happy as BJP doing advertisement for us, all we need for next five days is low grade ads like this & 1 TV interview by Kiran Bedi” aptly summed up by AAP ideologue Yogendra Yadav. BJP’s trail of advertisements kept targeting Kejriwal in a systematic manner, whether it was caricatures showing him swearing by his kids and fooling the public to reducing activist Anna Hazare to a garlanded photo. The personal attacks that were aimed to bring down his acceptability levels amongst the voters vis a vis Kiran Bedi.

Instead of doing the job, what these advertisements did was ensure that Kejriwal’s personal popularity saw a positive surge pushing it to almost the same as it was a year ago when the new outfit had won hearts of all and sundry in the capital. “I am grateful to Kiran Bedi ji for sparing my family and kids out of BJP's ads today” wrote Arvind Kejriwal on micro blogging site Twitter on 1st February, as expected the tweet got over 3500 retweets within 48 hours.

In a last ditch effort, the latest BJP advertisement targets AAP on allegedly accepting black money rather than Kejriwal. But the issue at large remains swept under the carpet by big political parties like BJP and Congress on making their funding transparent. Only 11.89 percent and 22.76 percent of Congress and BJP’s income respectively came from donations (2009-2011) as per accounts submitted to the Election Commission. In stark contrast, AAP has approached the Supreme Court for a Special Investigation Team (SIT) probe into funding of political parties, Kejriwal even asking Amit Shah and Sonia Gandhi to join the probe.

Perhaps, the BJP could have kept Modi out of the mess. But in elections that is a difficult judgment call. The man himself is not averse to taking on a challenge. Whatever the case, Kejriwal has got the better of prime minister in Delhi.

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Updated Date: Feb 04, 2015 13:21:44 IST