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It's Modi vs Kejriwal

It
Highlights

Dilli Hai Dil Hindustan Ka,” goes a popular Hindi song. For the hearts and minds – or rather votes – of the nation’s capital, a high profile, no- holds-barred election to Delhi Assembly is on the cards.

Modi is an orator, while AAP leader Ashutosh admits that Kejriwal is “not a great speaker.” But his dogged anti-graft campaign shows Kejriwal is effective

Dilli Hai Dil Hindustan Ka,” goes a popular Hindi song. For the hearts and minds – or rather votes – of the nation’s capital, a high profile, no- holds-barred election to Delhi Assembly is on the cards. It is unusual, but sig- nificant that the social media across the country that is so overwhelmingly pro- Bharatiya Janata Party shares its affections, when it comes to Delhi, with Aam Aadmi Party.

Going by that, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on a winning spree since last summer, could meet his match in AAP Convenor Arvind Kejriwal. Both have mastered the art of communication, both have cultivated social media and both believe in giving and taking as it comes, point by point, issue by issue.

An important difference is that Modi is an orator, while AAP leader Ashutosh ad- mits that Kejriwal is “not a great speaker.” But his dogged anti-graft campaign shows Kejriwal is effective. Called ‘anarchist’ and ‘naxal’ by Modi at last Sunday’s Ramlila Maidan rally, Kejriwal has hit back in equal measure. His credentials re- main good.

Bharatiya Janata Party has had too many con- tenders, the reason why it could be a post-poll diktat from the top (read Modi). The Congress has anointed Ajay Makan, known to be close to Rahul Gandhi, who does not have the charisma of Modi and Kejriwal, but is a quiet organiser. His choice helps curb factional feuds. He is on the same page with Delhi Congress chief Arvinder Singh Lovely.

Long time CM Sheila Dikshit, who has announced retirement from electoral politics, is bound to try to redeem herself by some good campaigning. Hence, the Congress, which had plummeted to eight seats in December 2013 after ruling Delhi for 15 years, is not to be written off. Ask any rickshaw-puller in Delhi and he will swear by Keirjwal.

But ask Delhi’s burgeoning middle class and it is thumbs down for him because he quit as the Chief Minister abruptly after 49 days. He has apologised and AAP claims it has recovered ground. The renewed campaign is again full of promises by all in the race. Adjudged India’s largest urban agglomerate, beating Kolkata, Delhi has a myriad problems in the ancient Old Dilli and the New, that itself is a century old.

Power and its distribution, river and its muddled waters and, above all, air pollution that may keep US President Obama indoors during his visit later this month, are daunting. The Supreme Court has had to issue orders on each of these problems that per- sist. Which way the Delhites will vote is unclear. Delhi has traditionally been a two-party State with spoils shared by the Congress and the BJP. AAP has been a new, formidable factor, sharing much of the Congress support base, even eclipsing it.

Hence, a three-way vote could help the BJP. Here, one is not counting the likely, even if marginal, impact of Mayawati and Mulayam Singh from Uttar Pradesh next door, and reported efforts of the Owaisi Brothers from distant Hyderabad-Secunderabad to make their Delhi debut.

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