Desperate to do well in the Delhi Assembly polls on 8 February, the Bharatiya Janata Party has resorted to the use of the hate idiom in order to divide the electorate on religious lines. Taking notice of provocative and inflammatory utterances by the junior Finance Minister, Anurag Thakur and local Lok Sabha member, Parvesh Verma, the Election Commission has banned them from campaigning for a stipulated period. However, what has not been done is that the EC has not ordered the registration of FIRs under Sections 153 of the IPC and 125 of the People’s Representation Act, which entail a punishment of up to three years.
The two young leaders, who are considered to be the future of the saffron brigade, have shown no remorse and appear smug with themselves for the deplorable remarks. It is evident that they were encouraged by statements made by Union Home Minister Amit Shah, who while canvassing, urged voters to press the EVM button “so hard that the current would electrocute Shaheen Bagh”, where protestors are sitting on a dharna for the past 50 days to express their opposition to the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The BJP top brass is making Shaheen Bagh an election plank after recognising that the party had been unsuccessful in presenting a credible agenda to replace the Aam Aadmi Party. In fact, it is indeed a matter of immense surprise that the BJP, which won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in the 2019 Parliamentary polls, and controls the three municipal corporations, is bereft of any blueprint, other than a divisive mode, which seeks to disrupt the peace of the capital.
Amit Shah has taken it upon himself to spearhead the party’s effort, and is even addressing corner-meetings comprising fewer than 200 people at times. Scores of MPs and several Chief Ministers have descended on the city to enhance the party’s prospects, but have been unable to make any impact on the election, where Arvind Kejriwal is way ahead of both his opponents. The BJP is banking on divisive politics to garner votes, but by and large, the people of the city are content that Kejriwal and his government have been able to keep their word.
Shah’s over-enthusiasm to win Delhi back after more than 27 years is directly related to his own future in the saffron brigade. There is no doubt that the Home Minister, as BJP president, achieved the kind of success which none of his predecessors ever had, but yet is struggling with many obstacles in his way. The speculation in BJP circles is that if the party’s performance is dismal, the Home Minister’s position in the organisation set-up may be affected.
Curiously, the Prime Minister, who has been the biggest vote-catcher for his party, has yet to campaign in the Delhi elections. Party colleagues believe that he shall do so after the concessions announced in the Union Budget sink in, and the middle classes can be weaned away from Kejriwal, who is in an envious position.
The BJP formula of dividing society on communal lines has for the most part not succeeded, and people are convinced that the AAP dispensation has kept the promises it had made while the BJP’s own record on electoral assurances has not been as good. Moreover, the unexplainable incident that took place near Jamia, where a teenager brandished a country-made weapon, in full view of a strong police contingent, and shot a protestor, has eroded the BJP’s image. The incident portrayed the Central government in poor light, and questions were asked why the police did not neutralise him, when he was threatening peaceful agitators in their presence, with the intent of causing bodily harm. In any western country, the suspect would have been gunned down with no questions asked.
What is worrying for the BJP is that the youth’s background links him with right wing Hindu ultras and exposes the claims of his having nothing to do with the Sangh Parivar. The shooting and the weapon brandishing was telecast on live TV and the Delhi Police, has once again, cut an extremely sorry figure.
On the other hand, Kejriwal has not fallen in the multiple traps set by the BJP and continues to focus his campaign on the performance of his government. He was quick to condemn a statement made by a Pakistani minister which made an appeal to defeat Modi. The Delhi CM, while describing the electoral battles as an internal matter of India, counselled the minister to keep his views to himself, and refrain from criticising Modi who was the Prime Minister of India.
The Congress is on the periphery of the polls and thus is unlikely to make much headway in the ongoing elections. Barring a few seats, the party nominees are satisfied with collecting money rather than making a strong outreach to voters. There is confusion in the ranks and despite the best efforts of Subhash Chopra, things are not streamlined sufficiently for the party to bounce back.
This election has, so far, been one-sided and Kejriwal knows that if he can pull this one off, he would be one of the tallest leaders the national capital has produced, joining the elite political club of Chaudhury Brahm Prakash, H.K.L. Bhagat and Madan Lal Khurana. Sheila Dikshit could not make it to this position, despite being the longest serving CM, because she was unable to groom future leadership in her own party. The election is now about Kejriwal. Between us.