There has been intense speculation on who would win the Delhi Assembly polls. Would the Bharatiya Janata Party, which has had a dream run ever since Narendra Modi became its campaign spearhead, continue to dominate the political scene or would Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party emerge victorious leading to a massive upset? What would happen to the Congress, which has been going through its worst phase? Would the party be rendered irrelevant in the national capital where it ran the city government for 15 years and the national government for ten years? Would more people abandon the grand old party, thereby raising further questions on the ability of Sonia Gandhi and her son Rahul to keep their flock together? These are some of the questions which have been doing the rounds. The consequences of the poll outcome would be extremely significant for the players in these elections and would determine the course of political events in the future.
The BJP has, for the first time since it came to power at the Centre, encountered a tough challenge from the AAP. So far it had been winning largely in states controlled by the Congress and the Modi magic saw it through very comfortably. Party chief Amit Shah hogged the headlines for his strategic mind and organisational abilities. He could do no wrong was the message which was loud and clear. Both Shah and Modi used the winning streak to build Brand Modi and simultaneously replaced established leaders with their chosen ones in the states where the party won. However, every state has to be tackled differently and the mistake apparently Shah has made this time is that he not only underestimated his colleagues in the capital, but decided to replace them with a new crop of leaders led by Kiran Bedi. This has apparently not worked too well and the party is struggling to keep its head above water. The indications are that the BJP has become defensive for the first time and thus could even lose the polls.
If that was to happen, it would be a big setback to Brand Modi. The ramifications of the defeat in Delhi would be felt all over the country and the party would go into the Bihar elections with a great degree of caution. It would not be surprising that knives would be out for Amit Shah and voices within the party may start questioning his political wisdom. However, Modi may survive the defeat due to his resilience and his knack of getting out of tight situations. But he too would have to be very careful in the future and his desire to replace established leaders in various places with his hand-picked men and women may not get fulfilled. The defeat, in case it takes place, would also be a reflection on the working of several top political leaders, especially those who chose to get Kiran Bedi on to the capital’s political centre stage.
Kejriwal entered the fray as an underdog and someone who had nothing to lose. His party’s contest against the BJP could be likened to the one between David and Goliath. He conducted his campaign with a lot of restraint and did not get ruffled even after being provoked by several BJP leaders.
If he wins the election and his party gets into power, he would become the rallying point for anti BJP (read Modi) forces. He would not allow the Central government to sit peacefully even for a day and shall flood it with demands to make Delhi a better city. Refusal or delay on part of the Centre would lead to agitation. He has perfected the art of making an understatement with a deadpan face and thus would be a political force to reckon with. And even if he was to lose, his position would not be diminished. He would sit like a monkey on the shoulders of BJP leaders, forcing them to yield to his agenda. He would continue to raise issues of public importance and keep himself relevant even as a member of a defeated party.
The Congress has evidently the most difficult task. Its bad days do not seem to end. No one gives them even half a chance and indications are that the party may find it difficult to get past even the figure of five. Its cadres are demoralised and the leadership has done nothing to revive the organisation. During the poll process, some of its top local leaders have joined the BJP and its minority vote has shifted towards AAP. In Ajay Maken, the Congress had the most capable person to be the Chief Minister, but even his victory appears to be in doubt. The chances are that the Congress may be left with only token presence after the polls.
The flavour of the season is politics. The winner takes most and the vanquished has to wait for its turn. Between us.