‘The BJP’s chance has improved astronomically post 26 January’.
NEW DELHI: The entry of leaders from outside Delhi and giving them the charge of the election campaigning in Delhi is the reason being attributed to the late surge of the Bharatiya Janata Party. This surge, leaders said, started happening on the ground since the last week of January.
Several party leaders—including Members of Parliament, MLAs and other party functionaries, all from outside Delhi—with whom The Sunday Guardian interacted, said that the BJP’s chance has improved “astronomically” post 26 January. It was in the last week of January that these leaders from Bihar, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and from other states took charge of the campaigning.In many of the 70 Assembly seats of Delhi, the BJP, surprisingly, despite having won on all the seven Lok Sabha seats, had little or no organisation on the ground. Where there was, local leaders and workers were reluctant to come out because of infighting between top leaders.
“We had no primary updated data (related to voters). We had to start from the basics. There can be many reasons for that. The local party workers believed that the party had no chance in Delhi and hence were not active when it came to preparing for the Assembly elections; infighting at the top ensued that the coordination between local mohalla level functionaries was missing. However, all that was rectified in the last two weeks. Whatever (referring to the energetic BJP campaign in the last few days) you are witnessing is a result of less than 20 days of work,” a party functionary from Haryana, who is handling one of the constituencies of West Delhi, told this paper on Thursday. Delhi went to polls on Saturday.
This correspondent went to the party’s makeshift office in Delhi Cantt at Gopinath market, from where the party has given ticket to Manish Singh, a former Air force officer, who is the president of Purvanchal Morcha, Delhi. Manish Singh, who is originally from Patna, had served in the Siachen in the past.
The campaigning for this seat was being managed by party MP from Karnal, Sanjay Bhatia. Even at 8 pm in the night, Bhatia, who was suffering from headache and temperature, was sitting on a plastic chair with a few local workers and going through the voters’ list while directing his confidant to add some names which he believed were missing from the list. Local party leaders said that Bhatia has been sitting there for the last 10-15 days every day, handling logistical issues and issuing directions. Less than 15 days ago, he was not even aware who Manish Singh was.
Ratnesh Kushwaha, a prominent BJP Kushwaha leader from Bihar, who, too, has been campaigning in Delhi Canntt, said: “Normally, a n MP level leader, of any other party, will not sit in the office for an Assembly candidate, that too in an election that is not happening in his state. Bhatia could, if he wanted, would have come in the morning to the party office, given instructions and left. But he stayed in the office till late night. It is because of him that the other ‘junior’ leaders who have come from other parts of India, too, started putting their whole-hearted effort after they saw a senior leader working tirelessly for the party’s sake.”
Another party leader recalled that when they first assembled at the party office, the assessment they arrived at, after meeting the locals, was that Manish Singh was not going to get more than 5,000 votes. However, due to the intense ground level campaign that the BJP carried out in the last 14 days, the seat is now being considered as “category A” seat (very good chance of winning). It is among the few rare seats where Home Minister Amit Shah has done two public interactions.
In Delhi Cantt, leaders from at least 4-5 states, many of whom met each other for the first time, are handling Manish Singh’s campaigning.
Giving the example of Delhi Cantt, another party MP said that the same tactic of using “local leader and outside flavour” was being adopted in several constituencies.
“Our door-to-door campaign team has a Jat from Haryana, a Bihari from Bihar and a former IAF officer. Depending on the profile of the voter, the campaign team member, who is most likely to gather attention of the particular voter, is asked to seek vote for the candidate. If the voter is Bihari, the party worker from Bihar speaks to them and so on. This has added a local touch to the campaign and it is giving results,” a party functionary who is active in the Matiala seat of West Delhi said.
How meticulous the BJP has been managing its campaign in some of the seats can be gauged from a small example. In the third week of January, when the local workers of Moti Bagh told the party leaders that they were facing problems and were feeling intimidated by the serving and retired bureaucrats and money bags, who form a large part of the voters, of that constituency, the party requested a retired IAS officer and a Gurgaon-based businessman to send his close relative to help the party during campaigning so that they can handle the IAS officers and the businessmen.
Another example of the same can be gauged from the fact that party MLA Arun Sinha from Kumhrar seat, Patna, who was campaigning in the seats dominated by Purvanchali voters, told the voters, whose family members are based in Patna, while sharing his contact details with them, that they can call him whenever they or their family members need any assistance in Patna. This led to a generation of goodwill among the voters.
According to party sources, not less than 1,200 party functionaries from Bihar alone had come to Delhi since the last week of January.
One party leader from Shimla showed this reporter the 100 plus WhatsApp groups that he had created of the voters of all the booths in an East Delhi constituency.
“The WhatsApp groups are divided into booths and all these 100-plus groups were created by us in the last 10 days. We went door-to-door to collect the numbers, sought their permission whether to add them or not. In these groups, we send them links of videos of the speech made by senior leaders and other promotional links. The campaign has taken off sharply in the last 10-15 days because of the arrival of outside leaders and functionaries,” he said.
“Our campaigning can be divided into two phases—before January last week and after January last week. I can assure you that the result will come as a big surprise,” a party leader quoted above said.