Strangely, it does not matter who rules the capital of USA, England, Russia or France. Can anyone remember the name of the Mayor of Bombay? Though Delhi is smaller than most cities, the election in Delhi has become extremely important for politicians. The media gives more importance to Delhi than all the states combined.
The Congress controlled Delhi for 15 years. In 2013, AAP of Kejriwal defeated the Congress decisively and took away all its vote banks. In 2013, BJP won 31 MLAs out of 70. Kejriwal ( AAP) won 28 and Congress got only 8 MLAs, with the 15 years Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit losing her own seat. Congress has not recovered from this shock.
In 2014, after the BJP won the 7 Parliament seats in Delhi with great margins, winning Delhi should be very easy. But state elections are different from national elections and suddenly AAP of Kejriwal has become a strong challenger.
Challenge for all parties:
The BJP has to win the Delhi elections as it has won all elections held after Parliament elections. If it loses Delhi, then it will be a major political setback. The Congress wants to stop the BJP somehow. Even allies of BJP like Telugu Desam , Shiv Sena and Akali Dal will be happy if BJP loses so that it comes under control. In fact, within the BJP, the retired senior leadership wants BJP to lose Delhi.
The Congress party must improve its performance over 2013 when it won 8 MLAs. Otherwise, it will become an existential crisis.
Kejriwal must form the government. Or he will become a big loser and be forgotten. A great political experiment in India, where a non-establishment party led by Kejriwal could capture power in Delhi will never happen again. So Delhi is an issue of survival for both Congress party and Kejriwal. For the BJP, if it loses Delhi, then Modi and Amit Shah will lose their prestige and entire Opposition will start getting together to stop the BJP.
Congress party’s strategy:
The Congress is fielding senior leaders everywhere feeling that they might get sympathy. If the Congress gets less than the 24 % votes it got in 2013, then its revival will be a dream. Many former sympathizers and beneficiaries who got posts, became advisers , other political parasites and nominated MPs , Governors and some “ intellectuals “ are all waiting. The rats on a ship know if it is going to sink and they jump off the ship first.
Kejriwal’s strategy and weaknesses:
Kejriwal won one of the greatest election victories in India in 2013. Kejriwal performed miracles and won an election defeating both Congress and BJP. After becoming Chief Minister, aside from poor governance and drama, Kejriwal showed that he lacks soft skills. He alienated all his close colleagues. Why have all his close associates like Shazia Ilmi , lawyer Prashant Bhushan , Yogendra Yadav and thousands of others left him after Kejriwal became Chief Minister ? Thousands of distinguished people canvassed for Aam Admi party in 2013. When Kejriwal became Chief Minister, he showed another side to him. Ancient Greeks used to call this “hubris “or arrogance which comes with power and destroys the person. Or in India, it is called “Vinasha kalum, Vipruthi Buddhi “. He lost the great strength of un-paid enthusiastic political workers. Kejriwal got thousands of un-paid intelligent enthusiastic workers. After victory, Kejriwal embarked on a suicidal route where he started insulting all popular leaders and now he is all alone. He still has great support amongst the poor. But his major weakness is that he has lost talented leaders to the BJP. Kejriwal has now got the Muslim support since he contested against Modi in Varanasi and continues to make noise against MODI. But he will lose middle class and Dalits.
The other mistake Kejriwal committed is that he started attacking the BJP for not having a great Chief Minister candidate. He was right as BJP leaders were jaded and colorless. Kejriwal thought that people will select him as others are useless. Amit Shah started thinking and he corrected the mistake by inducting Kiran Bedi and Shazia Ilmi, who are as popular as Kejriwal. Napoleon said 200 hundred years ago “Never interrupt your enemy when he is making mistakes “. Amit Shah found Kiran Bedi who is equal to Kejriwal. The lesson that Kejriwal needs to learn is that continuous criticism of your opponents will make them correct themselves.
There is also a desire in former supporters of Kejriwal to extract revenge on Kejriwal. Earlier, Kejriwal had un-paid enthusiastic supporters. Now he has enthusiastic enemies.
BJP’s strengths and weaknesses:
The main weakness of the BJP was that there was no leader with charisma in Delhi. BJP had to find someone to equal Kejriwal. Surveys done by BJP showed that people wanted a strong dynamic leader in Delhi and the BJP had none. Then the BJP approached retired Police Officer Kiran Bedi to join it and she joined BJP.
The great Chinese war strategist Sun Tzu 2500 years ago said that “the element of surprise can provide a great advantage. With an enemy, surprise can be employed by attacking where he least expects it. “.
The BJP surprised both Kejriwal and Congress by suddenly bringing in popular Kiran Bedi. Kejriwal never expected that BJP would project Kiran Bedi as Chief Minister Candidate as she is the female version of Kejriwal. The BJP gained a great advantage by this surprise move.
A large number of middle class people and youth who voted for Kejriwal in 2013 have gone to the BJP. The economy is now better than what it was earlier. Thanks to the fall in oil prices, inflation has been controlled.
It is a triangular fight in Delhi. The BJP cannot get the same votes for the Delhi assembly as it did in 2014 parliament election. The BJP was very confident till a month ago. But there was worry that it might not actually get a majority. If the BJP fails to form a government in Delhi, there will be country-wide consequences. Such a defeat will harm the BJPs’ efforts to grow in Kerala, Tamilnadu, Andhra, Telengana, Odisha, Bengal and Assam.
The Bihar elections are coming in November, 2015. A defeat in Delhi will make it difficult for the BJP to win in Bihar and will mean that Modi will run into a serious united opposition. A victory in Delhi will mean that the Congress and opposition will be de-moralized.
There is also a lesson for the BJP in its problems in Delhi. Its leaders are not enough anywhere in the country. If the BJP wants to grow in the country, it will have to import leaders. The people are not un-happy. But the people are also not happy. Modi has to satisfy people and not just the stock market and corporate sector. If Modi’s personal popularity goes down, then the BJP will collapse. The Delhi result will show which way the BJP is going.
Most importantly, there was no need for this expensive election in Delhi. The political parties should have allowed a coalition to be formed without making pious noises. Nearly 60 sitting MLAs are contesting again. The country could have been spared this costly and distracting election in Delhi. Though elections were held in Kashmir, there is no government. Can we go on having elections till some party gets a majority? The election law should be amended to avoid repeat elections. People are paying for this damage, not the politicians. Frequent elections cheapen democracy.
The law must be amended to avoid a waste of money, time and cheapening of democracy. All political parties united to pass hard anti-defection laws to protect themselves, not democracy. Other countries do not have such anti-defection laws. Why should India?