‘AAP’s campaign focused on development may not translate into electoral success’.

New Delhi: The changing politics over anti-CAA protests, especially those at Shaheen Bagh, seems to have come as a shot in the arm for the Bharatiya Janata Party in the run-up to the 8 February Assembly polls in Delhi. Also, the comment made by Delhi’s education minister Manish Sisodia in which he had expressed solidarity with the agitators in Shaheen Bagh, seems to be working in favour of the BJP, which is trying to make the Shaheen Bagh protests a poll issue.
Initially, it seemed that the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had the edge in Delhi’s Assembly polls and its campaign focused on development would translate into electoral success for the party, but the changing politics around the Shaheen Bagh protests and the BJP’s high voltage campaign in Delhi seem to have worked well for the BJP.
The BJP is known to turn issues into its favour. Political pundits discussed the same when the party turned the “Maut Ka Saudagar” comment of Congress president Sonia Gandhi during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls in its favour and a similar attempt is visible after Manish Sisodia’s comment expressing solidarity with protesters at Shaheen Bagh.
Earlier, the AAP had been taking calculated steps, maintaining a distance from the anti-CAA protests in Delhi, but Sisodia’s comment has put the party in a fix and the Shaheen Bagh protests have become a central issue in Delhi Assembly polls. Although the AAP is still trying hard to keep the poll discourse centered on development, the BJP has successfully turned around the narrative in Delhi. In the beginning, BJP workers on the ground were not even confident, but former BJP president and Home Minister Amit Shah’s high voltage campaign helped the party in energising its workers.
From Amit Shah to Parvesh Verma, many star campaigners of the BJP have been heard taking a hard line on anti-CAA protestors, which according to experts, is BJP’s tactical step to turn the anti-CAA protests in its favour.
Sat Prakash Rana, BJP’s candidate from Bijwasan, told The Sunday Guardian: “The AAP’s face has now been uncovered and Delhi’s voters are not going to support AAP. The AAP and Congress have both indulged in Muslim appeasement politics and they are openly supporting the anti-national forces in the city.”
“We have intensified our campaign and in the coming days, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself will be coming to campaign for the party by holding big rallies in parts of Delhi. Voters of Delhi will reject AAP’s politics of lies on 8 February,” Rana said.
Moreover, a visible division of Muslim voters in Delhi is another factor that may help BJP in gaining ground in the Assembly polls. Many Congress candidates, including Mirza Javed Ali from Matia Mahal, Harun Yusuf from Ballimaran and Matin Ahmad from Seelampur, are being seen as strong contenders in their respective Assembly constituencies.
Many voters from the Muslim-dominated constituencies to whom The Sunday Guardian spoke, said that there will be division of votes in their area as many Congress candidates have a good repute and it is not possible to assume that these candidate are going to simply lose. A local RSS functionary told The Sunday Guardian: “The BJP has been taking feedback from the ground to change and redesign its poll strategy. The party has information that Amit Shah’s rally has turned the political wind in Delhi and with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s entry into the poll campaign, the BJP will certainly get the energy needed to get back in the polls.”

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