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As Kejriwal Licks His Wounds, BJP Must Avoid Frittering Away Capital Advantage Like in 2014

The performance of his party should concern Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as AAP’s vote share is down to an all-time low ever since it entered the electoral politics fighting 2013 assembly elections.

Sidharth Mishra |

Updated:May 25, 2019, 4:35 PM IST
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As Kejriwal Licks His Wounds, BJP Must Avoid Frittering Away Capital Advantage Like in 2014
BJP’s Lok Sabah winning candidates hold hands in solidarity at party office in New Delhi on Saturday. (PTI Photo)

The BJP has never had it so good in the national capital. Though it is not the first time that it has won all the seven Lok Sabha seats - it did it earlier in 1999 and again in 2014 - this time around, their vote share has risen to an unprecedented 56 per cent.

The last time BJP got votes somewhere close to the 50 per cent mark was during 1993 Vidhan Sabha polls. Then, under the leadership of a redoubtable Madanlal Khurana and at the peak of Ramjanmabhoomi movement, it had polled around 47 per cent votes.

Since then, the population of the national capital has not only gone up but its demography has also changed. Today, 33.5 per cent of the total 1.36 crore voters across the seven Lok Sabha constituencies are Purvanchalis.

Their presence varies from 24 per cent in Chandni Chowk to 41 per cent in east Delhi. This has given Delhi the shape of a real time cosmopolitan city even in electoral terms. Thus, it’s not surprising that the voters in the national capital have bettered on the national mood.

Though majority of the analysts and opinion polls in Delhi had given all the seven seats to the BJP, none had predicted the kind of quantum jump in the vote share.

The BJP has commanded between 32 per cent to 36 per cent votes in Delhi across in all the elections which followed the 1993 Vidhan Sabha polls, except in 1999 and 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

The Modi Wave 1.0 in 2014 had given the party about 8 per cent extra votes, taking its vote share to 44 per cent. The time, it has jumped another 12 percentage points due to floating voters and undoubtedly the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

India’s electoral history has shown that whenever a leader provides a party charismatic propulsion, be it Indira Gandhi in 1971, Rajiv Gandhi in 1984 and before them Jawaharlal Nehru in 1952 and 1957, there is no chance for the opposition, whatever kind of combination they may form.

Thus those analysts, who could be rushing to draw the conclusion that by coming together Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Congress could have avoided the rout in Delhi, are advised caution. It did not happen in Uttar Pradesh (despite arch rivals SP-BSP coming together) and it would not have happened in Delhi.

The Congress’s vote share in this polls is about 22 per cent whereas that of the Aam Aadmi Party is down to 18. But for a somewhat credible performance by Raghav Chadha on the South Delhi seat, where he polled 28 per cent of the votes, AAP’s share could have been further down.

Chadha’s case was helped by Congress fielding an absolute political novice in boxer Vijender Singh. The other seat where the AAP managed to come second was the reserved North West Delhi seat. Guggan Singh of the AAP with 20 per cent votes bettered Rajesh Lilothia of the Congress, whose vote share was a meagre 17 per cent. Lilothia’s nomination had led to a rebellion with local strongman Rajkumar Chouhan leaving the Congress to join the BJP.

The performance of his party should concern Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal as AAP’s vote share is down to an all-time low ever since it entered the electoral politics fighting 2013 assembly elections. In 2013 it had a vote share of around 30 per cent, which improved further during the 2014 Lok Sabha polls and broke the ceiling in 2015 assembly polls touching 54 per cent.

After winning 67 out of 70 seats in 2015 Assembly polls, AAP was reduced to 48 out of 270 seats in civic body polls with a vote share of 25 per cent less than two years later. Every bypoll, whether Assembly or municipal corporation, conducted post-2015 Assembly elections reiterated their decline. Now, the Lok Sabha polls has pushed AAP to the third position behind the Congress.

Coming second on five of the seven Lok Sabha seats with a vote share of 22 per cent in 2019, from having lost deposit in most of the segments during the 2015 assembly polls, must have come as a consolation for the Congress party. The vote share of the BJP would also help the party escape criticism for not entering into an alliance with AAP.

Though rise in Congress’s vote share is credible but there is no best loser award in politics.

As things stand today, there is a yawning gap between the BJP and its rivals. The vote shares are indicative of the Narendra Modi-led party having garnered support from all the communities, perhaps except the minorities.

The challenge before the party after winning all the seven Delhi Lok Sabha seats in 2019 is to maintain the momentum for the next 10 months till February 2020 when assembly polls are held in the city. They frittered away the advantage of winning all the seven seats in 2014, when they were reduced to just three assembly seats during the 2015 Vidhan Sabha polls.

The statistics show that a large number of votes lost by AAP (about 8 per cent) from the municipal polls in 2017 have gone to the BJP as the Congress has improved its tally since then by just about 1 per cent. The BJP today has an advantage but has to put the house in order in its Delhi unit to win the assembly polls in 2020. A loss here would dim the halo which the BJP has acquired for now.

(The writer is a senior journalist and political analyst. Views expressed in the article are personal)

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