Delhi - Polls only wayout
Delhi – Polls Only Wayout. The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sting video, which allegedly shows a Delhi BJP leader trying to talk an AAP MLA into crossing...
With an AAP itching to sting BJP, how did its leaders think nothing about being caught red-handed? This sting – assuming it is for real – was waiting to happen and BJP walked right into the trap. The BJP has made mistake after mistake and cannot afford one more. Especially after the AAP sting, it should do the only thing that is sensible: dissolve the assembly and hold elections. With Sheila Dikshit now back in Delhi, her fairly good 15-year track-record will surely bring back some of the old Congress vote. The BJP will have to use the Modi factor, but he may not want to risk his reputation just for Delhi. BJP may have to bring in someone from outside to carry the can
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) sting video, which allegedly shows a Delhi BJP leader trying to talk an AAP MLA into crossing over, may or may not be genuine, but it shows one thing: the BJP is losing it. It has not lost a single opportunity to miss every opportunity.
If the party did nothing wrong between December 8, 2013, when the Delhi assembly results produced a surprising runner-up in Arvind Kejriwal , and May 16, 2014, when the BJP won all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, since then it has been making a right royal mess. It has got its timing and tactics all wrong in Delhi.
First, the party erred in not calling a Delhi election right away to gain from the positive vibes of the Lok Sabha victory. AAP was down and Arvind Kejriwal lacked credibility after making a tamasha of his chief ministership and then deciding to take on Narendra Modi in Varanasi. But the party dithered.
Second, if the idea was to try and form a government, end-May was the time to try its hand. But again, the party could not take a call. One reason could be the election of three MLAs who became MPs and Modi did not want to lose numbers in the Lok Sabha. But if at all the party wanted to try its hand at government formation, that was the time. It could have sought a trust vote and won either way. If it lost the vote, it could have shown AAP and Congress in collusion. If it won, it could have done a few populist things and then called an election at a time of its choosing. It did neither, and lost another opportunity.
Three, it is possible that the party merely wanted the Delhi elections postponed till after the other assembly elections were over and the government in Delhi had time to show results on some fronts – prices, etc.
But given the dire economic situation, there was little chance of any favourable economic showing so soon. So this was a vain hope.
Four, the time to call an election was before the Congress had time to catch its breath. But with Sheila Dikshit now back in Delhi after quitting as Kerala Governor, there is a good chance that the Congress will again opt for her. It will not be a walkover anymore. After Arvind Kejriwal’s capers and the BJP’s mis-steps, Sheila Dikshit’s fairly good 15-year track-record will surely bring back some of the old Congress vote, now that the anger with the party is over. One can no longer predict how the Delhi citizen will vote the next time.
Five, even for hanky-panky, you need some brains. With an AAP itching to sting BJP, how did its leaders think nothing about being caught red-handed? This sting – assuming it is for real – was waiting to happen and BJP walked right into the trap.
The BJP has made mistake after mistake and cannot afford one more. Especially after the AAP sting, it should do the only thing that is sensible: dissolve the assembly and hold elections.
Nobody can predict the outcome, of course, but the BJP at least has a chance of winning if the Delhi voter splits three ways, and the BJP is the largest among the three.
There is a good reason to think the BJP still has the edge. For one, it has a government at the Centre, and voters know that having the Centre and the State in constant quarrels is not a good thing. Moreover, if the next vote will be BJP versus the rest, the anti-BJP vote has to swing in one direction for either AAP or Congress to win (most likely, the swing will be towards AAP, but one can’t be sure). A strengthened Congress will be to BJP’s advantage.
The BJP will also have to use the Modi factor, though the latter may not want to risk his reputation just for Delhi.
With both AAP and Congress possibly having a clear leader, the BJP cannot afford to have a rudderless party – unless Harsh Vardhan now comes back to the helm, or the BJP opts for some of the lesser known faces to lead the party. This means either Modi will have to be the face of the Delhi campaign or the party will have to rope in someone from outside to carry the can.
Either way, the time for dithering is over. It is time to dissolve the Delhi assembly and call fresh elections.
(The writer is editor-in-chief, digital and publishing, Network18 Group)