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#BetterDemocracy: Polls 2015: Can Delhi voters get it right?


When Delhi went to the polls 13 months ago, the scenario was exuberant. There was an urgent need for change; a mini revolution was brewing. People, fed up with a corrupt and arrogant government, were looking for an alternative and Arvind Kejriwal arrived at the right time the right place. The Congress did not have much of a chance and the fight was between the BJP and the AAP.

Since then much has changed. There is a new government with a formidable majority at the center. Modi’s ‘wave’ or ‘charisma’, whatever one wants to call it, is at work. It has been sweeping state elections without much resistance from the opposition parties. With his promise of development and effective governance, Modi has been successfully able to rope in young aspirational voters. But this is where it ends. For the BJP, Delhi might turn out to be a tougher nut to crack. The BJP’s problems begin with the lack of strong leadership at the state level. It will be a travesty if BJP is planning to fight Delhi elections banking upon its PM’s appeal. It will not be most suitable for the national party holding comfortable majority at the center to pitch its Prime Minister against a regional leader whom they themselves consider a non-entity. In fact PM’s appeal is itself under scrutiny now. So far all Modi’s promises have proven to be all rhetoric and no substance. Industrialists and corporates might still be hopeful but the common man is fast losing hope. Recent revelations about the BJP state chief’s business connection with the Reliance group companies that supply power in Delhi is not good news for the common man of Delhi. As he now understands why his power bill refuses to come down.

The AAP is no longer a debutant with nervous first time contestants. It has learnt its lessons on its way. Arvind Kejriwal is the most recognizable and popular face in Delhi politics and has proved that he can punch above his weight. But this is where it ends for AAP as well. AAP has paid a heavy price for resigning, losing substantial middle-class support and thus providing ample ammunition to the BJP and the Congress to run the party down. Internal turmoil in the party is still not over. The voices of dissent have still not subsided. Finding suitable candidates is still a challenge. The people who were rooting for Kejriwal last time around are having second thoughts. A rational mind is forced to conclude that the party needs to grow a little more politically before being considered for the all-important job.

And there is nothing much to say about the third player; the Congress wears an exhausted look and is in it only to remain relevant. Whatever it is able to achieve through these elections should be considered a job well done.

So it remains a contest between the BJP and the AAP. And it is going to be an extremely difficult job for the voters of Delhi to pick one. On the one hand is the force of motivated workers trying to cash in on the charisma and appeal of Narendra Modi, on the other hand is a party known for its energetic campaigning, innovative means of communication and use of social media.

In the present scenario Delhiites might get tempted to have the center and state government from the same party to make life easy, but that might prove to be a shortsighted vision. Emergence of a political party other than the BJP and the Congress is what the politics of this country needs most urgently. It has been proven time and again that these two mainstream parties are no different then each other. Indian voters need to create an option. This ‘option’ can bring about the desired change in our corrupt political system as it will keep the others parties/leadership on their toes and make the most important point that they are dispensable. Right now the voters seem to be destined to choose between the devil and the deep sea. So it is not really important who wins the election, BJP or AAP, what’s important is that AAP establishes itself as an important and formidable power and keeps bigger parties like the BJP and the Congress on their toes.

Most important thing voters need to understand is the challenge that lies in governing Delhi.

Delhi today is a modern city dotted with flyovers and upmarket landmarks, but the urban renewal has not gone beyond privileged colonies. It is a city where VIPs coexist with the poorest of poor, but it is the poor who fight to exist everyday. It is a city where Z security is provided even to the ones who need it the least but when it comes to women security we don’t seem to have enough policemen. It is a modern city, which is still struggling for the basic amenity like regular power, but the successive governments have seemed helpless against the private players who provide the services at their own terms.

Whether these challenges can be met by the BJP that still chooses to cling on to its PM’s rhetoric or the AAP, that needs to work extra hard to convince the people of Delhi that they have it in them, is yet to be seen. Delhi needs a functional government and an enlightened leadership. That is what Delhi should vote for.

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