The saffron party won in just three constituencies in 2015, where the Congress couldn’t retain one seat.
New Delhi: If surveys are to be believed, the Aam Aadmi Party is all set to return to power in the national capital where polls to all 70 Assembly seats will be held on Saturday. But if one goes by grandstanding, then the BJP appears set to usher in a new chapter in Delhi and forming the city-state’s government on its own after 22 years.
Two surveys, one released on Wednesday and another earlier on Monday, clearly suggest that the AAP will not be able to retain all 67 seats it won in the 2015 elections, but will be able to form the government on its own. They give 10 to 14 seats to the BJP. But home minister Amit Shah has claimed his party will be winning more than 45 seats. The saffron party won in just three constituencies in 2015, where the Congress couldn’t retain one seat.
According to the ABP News-CVoter survey, Arvind Kejriwal’s AAP is predicted to win 42 to 56 seats. The IPSOS-Times Now survey, based on a sample size of 7,321 voters, says the AAP is likely to get anything between 54 and 60 seats, the BJP 10 to 14 seats, while the Congress may draw a blank or win, at best, two seats.
Tight security measures have been put in place across the city, especially sensitive areas like Shaheen Bagh, for peaceful polling in which Delhi’s 1.47 crore voters will decide whether Mr Kejriwal gets another term as chief minister for the development work done and promised, or the BJP, which campaigned aggressively on the “anti-Shaheen Bagh” nationalism pitch, will get a he last two weeks of campaigning for the country’s most prestigious electoral battle since the Lok Sabha polls in April-May 2019 saw the BJP roping in almost all Union ministers, 11 chief ministers and 200-odd MPs to hardsell its nationalistic narrative to garner the support of voters to unseat Mr Kejriwal. Many BJP leaders even tried to polarise voters along communal lines.
To address the Hindu votebank, the chief minister even recited the “Hanuman Chalisa” at a recent show organized by a news channel where he declared himself to be a diehard follower of Lord Hanuman. On Friday, he along with his family offered prayers at the famous Hanuman Temple in Connaught Place. After his visit to the temple, he tweeted: “Sought blessings of Hanumanji at famous Hanuman temple at CP. Bhagwanji said — ‘You are doing good work. Continue serving people like this. Leave the outcome to me, all will be fine’.”
The Delhi polls are significant as they will also set the stage for elections in six states in the next 18 months — Bihar in the second half of this year, and Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Puducherry, West Bengal and Assam in 2021. These polls are an acid test for the BJP which in the recent past lost elections in Jharkhand and was unable to form the government in Maharashtra after its ally Shiv Sena joined hands with the Congress and NCP. In Haryana, the party could form government only after taking the support of Dushyant Chautala’s JJP.
For Mr Kejriwal, these polls are not only a test of his credentials as the head of a city government, but also important for the political future of the AAP, whose voteshare dropped from 54 per cent in 2015 Assembly polls to just 18 per cent in last year’s Lok Sabha polls. The AAP, which swept the 2015 Assembly polls, lost all three municipal bodies in the city to the BJP in 2017, in which it got just 26 per cent votes, about 10 per cent less than the saffron party.
This time, the AAP is again facing a tough contest from the BJP in 10 seats which it had won by a margin of less than 10 per cent votes in the earlier polls. Of these seats, the victory margin of the AAP was even less than five per cent in Shakurbasti, Najafgarh, Lakshmi Nagar and Krishna Nagar. The party, however, seems to be having a clear edge over the BJP in all the 12 reserved seats it had won in the previous polls.
The 2020 election also poses a big challenge for the Congress, which could not win even a single seat in the last Assembly elections. The party came second only in Badli, Mangolpuri, Matia Mahal and Mustafabad. But the grand old party surprised one and all by securing four per cent votes more than the AAP across the seven seats in the last Lok Sabha elections.
Both the AAP and the BJP had been trying hard to seek support of Purvanchali voters — migrants from eastern Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Jharkhand — who comprise about 30 per cent of the total electorate. The AAP has even gone to the extent of promising to get Bhojpuri included in the Eighth Schedule of the Constitution.
The BJP, which has kept its 32-plus per cent voteshare since 1993, has been focusing more on its traditional voters from upper caste Hindus, who account for 40 per cent of the electorate — 12 per cent Brahmins, seven per cent of Punjabi Khatris and Rajputs, six per cent each of Jains and Baniyas and eight per cent of the rest. Punjabi voters, who make up around 25 per cent of the electorate, can influence the election outcome in 20-odd seats.