BJP’s CM FACE FOR DELHI
All eyes are now on the Delhi elections as the next big electoral challenge, especially with the BJP still deciding whether to go for a Chief Minister face or not. There are contenders enough—from Manoj Tewari and Dr Harsh Vardhan to Vijay Goel, Gautam Gambhir and Parvesh Varma. Interestingly, while the BJP often goes into elections where it doesn’t have a CM face, relying on the Prime Minister’s popularity (as it did in Maharashtra and Haryana in 2014 and Bihar in 2015), in Delhi it has always followed a different strategy. It projected Kiran Bedi in 2015, Dr Harsh Vardhan in 2013 and V.K. Malhotra in 2008. This time round there is a view that the party should project a CM face, especially since much of the AAP campaign is centred around the fact that there is no face to take on Arvind Kejriwal. Also, will a Kejriwal vs Modi battle work for the BJP or only enhance the stature of Kejriwal, especially if he wins? Given this reasoning, it is learnt that the BJP is seriously considering propping up a CM face, with Parvesh Verma and Harsh Vardhan apparently leading the leadership stakes.
The Aam Admi Party is clearly making a concerted effort to steer clear of the CAA narrative in the coming Delhi elections. When asked pointed questions about whether Delhi would implement CAA or not, in a recent town hall meeting organised by NDTV, Kejriwal replied that the decision was to be made in Parliament, but he did add that the issues should not be seen as a Hindu-Muslim one. He then steered the conversation to his achievements as CM. Interestingly, even during the recent Haryana and Maharashtra state polls, both Bhupinder Hooda and Sharad Pawar refused to let Article 370 dominate the poll rhetoric, but instead focused on local issues. The idea seems to be to wrest the narrative from hyped up nationalism and religious divides, both areas where BJP has an advantage over others. But will the BJP play ball? For party sources say that Amit Shah is convinced that there is an undercurrent of support for the CAA that just might swing Delhi in the BJP’s kitty. Watch this space.
PRIYANKA AS UP CM FACE
Is the Congress planning to project Priyanka Gandhi Vadra as its Chief Minister face for Uttar Pradesh in 2022? This would explain Priyanka’s recent and very direct attacks on UP CM Yogi Adityanath. She is also very active in the state, spending most of her time there instead of Delhi. There is a view that the party’s revival can only come from the Hindi heartland states of UP and Bihar, and the Congress party’s best bet for revival is with Priyanka at the helm. This, incidentally, was a strategy proposed by Prashant Kishor during the last polls and even at that time Priyanka was ready to take on the challenge, but it was Sonia Gandhi who was against it. One can also make out from Akhilesh Yadav’s comments that he is anticipating Priyanka’s upgrade, for he is targeting Congress as much as the BJP.