How Arvind Kejriwal became the BJP’s best bet
18:25 EST, 19 October 2016
18:25 EST, 19 October 2016
In at least two state assembly elections due in 2017 – Goa and Gujarat – the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will convert a binary BJP-Congress contest into a triangular fight.
The result: AAP will split the minority vote in both states. It’s a vote-bank the Congress has so far had a lock-on.
In Goa, Christians and Muslims comprise 35 per cent of the electorate. In Gujarat, Muslims are just under 10 per cent.
The results of the latest India Today-Axis opinion poll seem to bear this out. In Goa, the poll projects the BJP will win 17-21 seats in the 40-seat Goa assembly with the Congress a close second at 13-16 seats. AAP is projected to win just 1-3 seats.
Crucially, most of AAP’s 16 per cent vote-share would have been cannibalised from the Congress, allowing the BJP to beat anti-incumbency in Goa by a whisker.
To his dismay, Kejriwal would thus have merely played spoiler to help the BJP retain power in a state it hasn’t governed particularly well.
Gujarat presents a more complicated picture. Kejriwal has wooed the Patidars to gain a foothold in a state he thinks is ripe for the picking.
After Modi’s move to the Centre, lacklustre leadership by former Chief Minister Anandiben Patel, the Patidar agitation, atrocities on Dalits, and more than 20 years of anti-incumbency have weakened the BJP’s traditional hold on Gujarat.
UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary and MP Ahmed Patel comes from Bharuch, a city at the mouth of the Narmada river in southern Gujarat.
He will be Sonia’s eyes and ears in the December 2017 Gujarat assembly elections.
Patel knows that a BJP defeat in Modi’s home state would demoralise the BJP leadership and cadre barely a year before the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
But Patel’s calculations may be unravelling. The plan to use Kejriwal to inflame a Patidar revolt against the BJP hasn’t gone according to plan.
The upsurge in nationalist sentiment following India’s surgical strike on Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (POK) is likely to be most keenly felt in Gujarat where sentiment against Pakistan-sponsored terrorism runs high.
Worse, Kejriwal may, as in Goa, poach more voters in Gujarat from the Congress than from the BJP in a triangular contest.
The Delhi chief minister’s recent four-day sweep through Gujarat was poorly timed with much of the attention focused on the BRICS and BIMSTEC summits in Goa and counter-terrorism cooperation in the region.
Following India’s surgical strike in POK, terrorism from Pakistan-based terror groups has become a default election issue.
It is Kejriwal’s weakest suit. His early questioning of India’s strikes in POK has drawn sharp criticism.
In a border state like Gujarat that could be an electoral millstone around Kejriwal’s neck.
The Delhi chief minister’s recent four-day sweep through Gujarat was poorly timed with much of the attention focused on the BRICS and BIMSTEC summits in Goa and counter-terrorism cooperation in the region
Months ago, the BJP would have been pleased to settle for around 100 seats in the 182-seat Gujarat assembly and just about retain power in 2017 despite anti-incumbency.
Now its ambitions will be set higher, courtesy Kejriwal’s disruption of the Congress vote and the army’s action in POK.
Punjab is the other state where Kejriwal could have miscalculated badly.
Not long ago AAP’s internal surveys claimed it would win over 100 seats in the 117- seat Punjab assembly.
Mis-steps have reduced this estimate to less than half in the India Today-Axis opinion poll to 42-46 seats – a close second to the Congress (49-55 seats).
The tainted SAD-BJP alliance is projected to finish a dismal – and fully deserved – third with 17-21 seats.
Kejriwal’s biggest mistake in Punjab has been to export his Delhi team to the state.
The sacking of veteran leader Chhotepur Singh and the failure to bring Navjot Singh Siddhu on board have compounded AAP’s problems.
Reports about misgovernance in Kejriwal’s Delhi government too have filtered through to the villages of Punjab.
Reeling from the drug mafia and horrific corruption by Akali leaders, Punjab deserves better.
Former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has given the Congress a real chance to capture its first major state after three years of the party’s retreat around the country.
Reform number one? Restore the Congress to a political party by rescuing it from the family business Sonia Gandhi has so diligently converted it into
The Congress has lost not only Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to the BJP but, according to the India Today-Axis opinion poll, could lose Manipur and Uttarakhand as well in 2017.
With Himachal Pradesh likely to be another casualty in late 2017 and the Congress also set to cede misgoverned Karnataka to the BJP in 2018, winning Punjab becomes critical: It could be the only state (bar Meghalaya) with a Congress government ahead of the 2019 Lok Sabha election.
That’s not good news for Indian democracy. India needs two strong national parties.
None of the regional fronts – JD(U), AAP, TMC, BSP or SP – has been able to step up to the plate.
India needs two strong national parties. The Congress has lost not only Assam and Arunachal Pradesh to the BJP but, according to the India Today-Axis opinion poll, could lose Manipur and Uttarakhand as well in 2017.
There’s further bad news for the Opposition: the India Today-Axis opinion poll was completed just days after the surgical strike.
The full impact of the Army’s action and the Opposition’s self-destructive politicisation of the strike have not been factored into the poll. If the penny hasn’t yet dropped for the Congress high command, it should now: to expand beyond Punjab and Meghalaya in India’s 36 states and union territories, it needs to reform the party.
Reform number one? Restore the Congress to a political party by rescuing it from the family business Sonia Gandhi has so diligently converted it into.
<div> </div> <!-- NOTE: WARNING: render-partial is a function --> <p><strong><a href="https://blockads.fivefilters.org/">Let's block ads!</a></strong> <a href="https://github.com/fivefilters/block-ads/wiki/There-are-no-acceptable-ads">(Why?)</a>