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HindustanTimes Fri,18 Apr 2014

AAP may upset caste maths of rivals

atulmathur, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, September 18, 2013
First Published: 22:17 IST(18/9/2013) | Last Updated: 02:57 IST(21/9/2013)

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Termed insignificant by their seasoned rivals, political mavericks -- the Aam Aadmi Party -- is expected to make an impact in the assembly elections in Delhi in a major way, says the Hindustan Times-C fore survey.

The debutant party is going to dent the traditional vote bank of the ruling Congress - Dalits and Muslims - as much as it is likely to eat into the vote share of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the survey shows.

The minorities and the scheduled castes voted for the Congress till the last assembly elections in 2008 when the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) managed to corner 14.1% votes from the two communities. Though it won only two seats, its candidates remained the runners-up in five seats. In five more seats, the party secured over 20% votes.

According to the HT survey, the AAP will replace the BSP as a potent third force in Delhi in this election.

"By offering sops such as regularisation of unauthorised colonies, distribution of ownership certificates to resettlement colonies and extension of Lal Dora, the Congress is likely to retain some of its vote share. But AAP has managed to create a formidable support base in unauthorised colonies, slums and lower middle class areas. The majority of its cadre comes from such areas," said Ravi Ranjan, fellow, Developing Countries Research Centre, Delhi University.

The survey, which predicts a simple majority for the Congress, shows a growing affinity among Sikh voters towards the party. While the BJP got 46% Sikh votes in 2008, this year its share could go down to just 25%. The Congress' vote share though is expected to increase from 42% to 50%.

The BJP is predicted to lose its traditional support base among the upper caste Hindus and Baniyas to AAP.

"They are those middle class people who are completely disenchanted with the Congress and would have voted for the BJP if AAP was not there," Ranjan said.

The survey reveals that the Congress and the AAP are likely to do better in east and south Delhi where there are more illegal colonies and slums. The BJP will fare better in its strongholds -- west and parts of north Delhi.

Sudha Pai, a professor at Centre for Political Studies, JNU, however, said it was too early to write off the BSP completely. "The BSP was performing well in Delhi. It is true that the BSP is not in power in Uttar Pradesh but it does not mean that its vote share will go down by half (from 14.1% in 2008 to 7% in 2013). We will have to wait and see," Pai said.

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