Will It Be Mr Delhi Or Miss Delhi?
Termed as a classic contest, the battle for Delhi Assembly appears to be have become a contest for Mr Delhi or Miss Delhi, more of a personality test like the 2014 general election which Narendra Modi turned into a contest between him and the rest. The major difference is that both Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi come from the same Anna Hazare stable. Both are adept campaigners and doers. Bedi can shoot her foot and so can Kejriwal. The similarities continue. Many members of AAP left it while in the BJP most local leaders are sulking and not campaigning for her. So much so that Dr Harsh Vardhan was conspicuously absent at a Bedi meeting in his own Assembly segment from where Bedi is fighting it out with Kejriwal.
In a sense, with just less than five days left for the voting day, the fight is going to be a close one, and as much of a class war as about personality, caste, religion, corruption and women’s safety so. It will reveal how much difference Modi’s whirlwind campaign could make to turn into the favour of Bedi.
If voters have corruption and women’s safety in mind, Bedi would be the favourite as she has a proven record of a better enforcer of law and controlling corruption. Kejriwal has made many promises but how can one be sure that his inherent rebellious instinct would not again sit on a dharna on the pavement or even better head a march protesting the Central government. The most recent ABP News-Nielsen poll shows Kejriwal’s lead for the CM’s chair is very narrow—just 47 per cent to 43.9 per cent. When the projected CM candidate was Harsh Vardhan in some earlier polls, the lead was huge—over 15 per cent.
However, the decisive tilt will come from what happens to the Congress vote. If we take Congress as a centrist party, but a bit to the left of the BJP, its dwindling vote-share indicates that its base is splitting—the poor moving towards AAP, and the middle classes towards the BJP. In the India Today-Cicero poll of early January, when Bedi’s candidature for the chief ministership was not on the horizon, the BJP’s vote-share was said to be 40 per cent, AAP’s 36 per cent and the Congress’s around 16 per cent. But the more recent ABP News-Nielsen poll shows the BJP and AAP almost level at 45-46 per cent, and Congress shrinking to just 8 per cent. Clearly, the larger chunk of the Congress vote may have shifted to AAP and BJP—but in a proportion we cannot know. But once Bedi becomes Chief Minister while administratively she might match the ability of most BJP state chief ministers, politically she could for Modi become a Molotov Cocktail.