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Delhi's many problems have been ignored by all parties

The striking thing about the upcoming Delhi elections is that while there is no anti-incumbency factor because there is no incumbent as such, all the three dominant parties are wobbly to a greater or lesser extent.

comment Updated: Jan 19, 2015 23:53 IST
Delhi
People-wait-to-cast-to-their-votes-during-2013-Delhi-assembly-elections-HT-Photo

The striking thing about the upcoming Delhi elections is that while there is no anti-incumbency factor because there is no incumbent as such, all the three dominant parties are wobbly to a greater or lesser extent.

The BJP is facing its toughest electoral challenge since it won the Lok Sabha elections last May. This is despite the fact that some of its earlier critics — Kiran Bedi and Shazia Ilmi — have now joined the BJP.

Ms Bedi, whether she becomes the party chief ministerial candidate or not, will be the counterweight to AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal because of the Anna Hazare bailiwick that both were in. Though the BJP thinks it can bank on Ms Bedi’s popularity because of the reputation she gained during her Indian Police Service days, it need not always earn dividends in politics. And then there’s the issue of other BJP leaders in Delhi not taking kindly to her elevation because politics too has its own norms of seniority and hierarchy. The BJP has to be very careful in this respect because the chances of any disaffection with the central government rubbing off on the party are the highest in the Delhi elections among all assembly polls in the country.

AAP is trying to wriggle out of its several discomfiting positions by finding fault with the central government and sticking to its own anti-corruption plank. But Mr Kejriwal has shot himself in the foot by asking voters to “take bribes” from other parties but still vote for his party.

Impetuosity and rashness seem to have been written into the DNA of India’s politics and Mr Kejriwal has proved he prefers to be a Roman when he is in Rome. By abruptly resigning as chief minister, he yielded a lot of ground to the BJP during the Lok Sabha polls. But that lesson seems to have been lost on the AAP leader though he apologised to the electorate for his action. His apology will have little value if he makes such statements, which are a plain insult to the people. Mr Kejriwal should ponder how he would have reacted if such a statement came from a notable functionary of a rival party. The principle of reciprocity matters even in the hard game of politics.

There is justification in the Congress not putting in too much effort in trying to win the Delhi elections, because by all accounts, win it can’t. Yet it is in danger of going down further because of the infighting that has surfaced. Delhi could have been the starting point for the party’s revival strategy because unlike in some other states, here it has a party structure. It is not personalities but how it positions itself that will be the test of a party. Only this realisation can drag, if at all, the Congress out of its eight-month somnolence.