The BJP is expecting a divide in the common vote bank of Congress and AAP.
New Delhi: While the national capital saw moderate voter turnout in the 12 May Lok Sabha polls, a relatively higher voting percentage in certain pockets have raised the Congress’ hope for a major comeback. Compared to the 60% polling in Delhi, areas like Ballimaran, Shakur Basti, Matia Mahal, Seelampur and Mustafabad saw 66-68% polling, thus giving the Congress advantage in the Chandni Chowk and North East Delhi parliamentary constituencies.
Similarly, in New Delhi, the Congress is hopeful of getting better of the BJP. In East Delhi, Assembly segments like Gandhi Nagar, Shahdara, Kondli and Trilokpuri saw the highest voting where Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party had eaten into the Congress’ vote bank in the 2015 Assembly polls.
Congress’ revival is, however, a win-win situation for the BJP which is expecting a clear-cut divide in the common vote bank of the Congress and AAP. Union Minister Vijay Goel said: “Higher polling in Muslim dominant constituencies is an indication of people’s disenchantment with the AAP. The core voters of the Congress have voted for it. It is an ideal situation for the BJP. The stronger the Congress emerges, easier it is for the BJP.” He added that the division of Muslim votes and that in the unauthorised colonies and slum clusters would ensure the BJP’s victory on all seven seats in the national capital.
According to a senior BJP leader, Congress’ better performance would be an ideal situation for the BJP in the upcoming Assembly polls in Delhi. “If Congress wins back its traditional votes, this will only weaken the AAP. The BJP just needs to consolidate on its core voters,” he said. Assembly polls in Delhi are scheduled for this year end.
In the Chandni Chowk Lok Sabha seat, Shakur Basti registered the highest polling at 68.7% which is also the highest for any Assembly segment in Delhi. This was followed by 68.25% polls in Ballimaran and 66.94% in Matia Mahal. Notably, these areas are considered Congress strongholds where the BJP has abysmal presence. In Chandni Chowk, Congress’ Jai Prakash Agarwal is contesting against BJP’s Dr Harsh Vardhan.
A similar trend was seen in North East Delhi where Muslims appeared to have voted en masse for Congress leader Sheila Dikshit against BJP’s Manoj Tiwari. Poll percentage stood at 67.4% in Seemapuri, 66.47% in Seelampur and 65.22% in the Mustafabad Assembly segments. Babarpur also recorded 62.14% polling.
The BJP is confident of retaining its 30-35% vote share that is formed mostly by the upper caste and Baniya voters. In the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP had a vote share of 46% while AAP got 3% and Congress 15%. In the subsequent Assembly polls in 2015, AAP swept the elections with nearly 55% votes. However, the AAP and Congress have a common voter base among Muslims, residents of unauthorised colonies and a floating section within the middle class. Eyeing to win back its core voters, the Congress campaign was centred around the development works of the erstwhile Sheila Dikshit government.
The 2019 election is a do-or-die situation for the Congress after its drubbing in Delhi in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls followed by the 2015 Assembly polls. This is for the first time that the Congress does not have any representation in Delhi Assembly or the seven Lok Sabha seats in the national capital.
It is for this reason that the Congress relied on its old war horses and the formidable ones like Sheila Dikshit, Jai Prakash Agarwal and Arvinder Singh Lovely, Ajay Maken and Mahabal Mishra.
The AAP, on the other hand, failed to pitch strong candidates. Barring Atishi, Dilip Pandey and Raghav Chadha, the other four AAP candidates were unknown to the voters and hence they failed to make much impact.
BJP, which had won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi in 2014, repeated five sitting MPs, including Manoj Tiwari, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Pravesh Verma, Ramesh Bidhuri and Meenakashi Lekhi.
The party contested the election riding on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s popularity and the narrative of nationalism after the Balakot air strike.