It has been a fight between two national parties — the Congress and the BJP — in the last three elections. But the emergence of the BSP has turned Delhi assembly elections into a triangular fight this year.
The party, which had failed to open its account in 2003, has come a long way since then. It surprised every one by winning 17 of the 272 wards in 2007 municipal elections.
The party is contesting from 69 of the 70 assembly seats this year. BSP Delhi state general secretary Suman Saini said he expects the party vote share to go up from 5.5 per cent in 2003 elections to 15 per cent this year. In the last municipal elections, the BSP’s vote share was close to 10 per cent.
Even senior BJP leaders admitted that the BSP is making inroads in Delhi. BJP general secretary Arun Jaitley, however, said the BSP will dent Congress's vote share and its rise will not affect the BJP.
"The BSP has gained considerably in areas where the majority of the population is Scheduled Castes and slum dwellers," a senior Congress leader said.
Party insiders say the BSP has a realistic chance of winning 3-4 assembly segments this year and may come dangerously close to victory on another 4-5 seats.
This seat is going to see an interesting fight between the sitting MLA Ramvir Singh Bidhuri and BSP candidate Ram Singh Netaji. Netaji had contested in 2003 elections on Congress ticket and had lost by a margin of just 436 votes to Bidhuri who had contested on Nationalist Congress Party ticket. Both leaders have switched parties now. Bidhuri is contesting on Congress ticket this time.
Kondli, Ghonda, Narela, Chhatarpur, Tughlaqabad, Sangam Vihar, deoli, Sultanpur Majra, Karawal Nagar, Gokulpur and Trilokpuri are some other seats the BSP leaders have pinned its hopes on.
“There is lot of hype around the BSP this time and the candidates are really working hard. But the party does not have an organisational set up in Delhi. How the candidate’s own machinery manage to translate this hype in actual votes on the day of elections is to be seen," said a senior BJP leader.