The more things change, the more they remain the same. A Hindustan Times-C fore survey predicts a dead heat between the BJP and AAP in the Delhi elections, leaving the capital headed for a hung assembly even after a year of President’s Rule.
The survey, conducted between January 10 and 19 and then revisited after Kiran Bedi was nominated the BJP's CM candidate, projects 31-36 seats for both BJP and AAP, with the Congress seen sliding to between 2 and 7 seats.
Delhi votes on February 7, but the results will only be known three days later. BJP's Bedi, her associate-turned-rival Arvind Kejriwal of AAP and Congress's Ajay Maken have been chosen by their parties to lead them in the prestigious battle for the capital.
Former chief minister Kejriwal is still the preferred choice for the post of chief minister with 43% people backing him, followed by Bedi (39%) and Maken (12%).
Pollsters interviewed a total 7,147 voters across Delhi, roughly half of them women, between January 10 and 19, and went back to 3,146 of them between January 24 and 27 to ask about their CM and party choices after the Bedi anointment.
Before Bedi was named the CM candidate by her party, the survey found that AAP was ahead with 34-39 seats, followed by BJP with 29-34 seats and Congress 2-7.
As many as 47% of the respondents felt Bedi's induction could be a game-changer in a tight battle.
In the 70 member assembly, with 36 being the simple majority mark, BJP, AAP and Congress had won 32, 28 and 8 seats respectively in 2013 elections. This resulted in the installation of a brief, minority AAP government with Congress support.
Despite the close finish expected, the survey shows AAP vote share is going up by 9 percentage points while it’s only five for the BJP and loss of 10 percentage points for Congress compared to the 2013 elections. In the 2013 assembly election, the BJP’s vote share was 33%, followed by the AAP’s 29.4% and the Congress’s 24.5%.
Corruption weighs heavily on people's minds with 23% saying it is the most important issue followed by inflation (16%), women's safety (14 %), shortage of drinking water (11%), and high power rates (5 %).
In the last leg of the campaign the BJP has decided to get aggressive with four rallies by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to be held between January 31 and February 4.
AAP is also not leaving any stone unturned with Kejriwal holding twice as many public meetings as he did for the 2013 assembly elections to try and erase the taint of having quit power in just 49 days in his earlier innings.