All said and counted, this election will ultimately be a battle of goodwill between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Kejriwal.
An interesting contest is shaping up in Delhi, with the poll panel declaring February 8 to be the date for the national capital’s eighth Assembly elections. Psephologists and political pundits are predicting it as a two-horse race — a straight fight between a chastened BJP, freshly emerged from a drubbing in Jharkhand, and a more mature, less energetic Aam Aadmi Party led by the charismatic Arvind Kejriwal. Despite looking at anti-incumbency, the AAP government’s performance in the education, health and amenities sectors puts it on a strong wicket. The Sunday raid by masked ABVP thugs at JNU and the fact that Delhi has been one of the nation’s hubs of anti-CAA protests may also prove detrimental to the prospects of its chief opponent.
What is the BJP’s loss, however, may end up being its own gain. Banking on this anger and its import, Kirti Azad, an important name among the Poorvanchalis, the Congress might just be able to influence the outcome in crucial seats, playing spoiler to the frontrunner. So, for a change, the ruling party at the Centre will hope for a better performance from its national rival in the capital. For the record, at 25-30 per cent of Delhi's population, Poorvanchalis are an important votebank who can swing result in 25 seats. Punjabis, assiduously wooed by the BJP, hold sway in 28-30 seats at 35 per cent. Muslims (12 per cent) are dominant in only 10 seats of the capital.
All said and counted, this election will ultimately be a battle of goodwill between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Mr Kejriwal. That’s because a faction-ridden BJP has failed to put up a chief ministerial face. From Parvesh Singh Verma to Harsh Vardhan and Smriti Irani, there have been simply too many contenders. After he stopped backing the statehood horse, the BJP efforts have been to portray a focussed Mr Kejriwal as a modest municipal head devoid of statesmanlike qualities. Mr Kejriwal must stay level-headed and ready to change the script whenever there is a chance.