Never before has the election to the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi been watched so closely.
This is the first time the contest is not restricted to the two traditional political rivals, the Congress and the BJP. With its spectacular performance in the state elections four months ago, the Aam Aadmi Party has turned the contest into a three-cornered fight.
The election this time is not just about wresting more seats and cornering a bigger vote share. The BJP routed Congress 7-0 and 6-1 in 1998 and 1999 elections respectively and the Congress won the 2004 and 2009 elections in Delhi 6-1 and 7-0. The entry of AAP has turned the election into a fight for survival for the Congress in Delhi’s politics now.
Riding on strong anti-Congress sentiments, AAP cornered 29.3% votes and won 28 of the 70 Delhi Assembly seats in December.
It eventually formed the government but had to resign in just 49 days after the Congress and the BJP jointly prevented it from tabling its flagship Jan Lokpal Bill.
“It is definitely advantage AAP in Delhi,” said Ravi Ranjan, fellow, Developing Countries Research Centre, Delhi University.
“A good show in Lok Sabha elections will help the party get a stronghold in Delhi politics and may manage to win the re-election to Delhi Assembly.” Though the party claims it was going to win all seven seats, senior leaders fancy their chances on four seats - New Delhi, Chandni Chowk, West Delhi and East Delhi.
The BJP, on the other hand, is riding high on Modi wave. Political analysts feel a good show in Lok Sabha elections, where the party manages to get five or more seats, will put it in an advantageous position in Delhi state politics. Senior party leaders expect to form government in Delhi if BJP-led NDA comes to power without getting into re-election.
“The BJP is definitely going to get majority of seats in Delhi. In a scenario where the party gets five more seats it will have a psychological edge in assembly elections too,” said Manoj Sinha, political analyst, Delhi University.
The party, however, hopes to win at least four seats - South Delhi, West Delhi, North West Delhi and Chandi Vhowk and expects a keen contest on the remaining three.
Though there may be a lot at stake for the Congress candidates individually - union ministers Kapil Sibal and Krishna Tirath, former union minister Ajay Maken, former Delhi Congress chief Jai Prakash Agarwal, former chief minister Sheila Dikshit’s son Sandeep - after a disastrous show in assembly elections, the party is fighting to gain the second spot by pushing one-election wonder AAP to the third.
“The Congress has already seen its worst. It has already gained some ground since the assembly elections.
Candidates such as Maken, Sibal and Agarwal may not win elections but they will not be pushovers either. If the Congress redeems some of its lost glory this time I won’t be surprised if it manages 20-25 seats in assembly elections later this year,” Sinha said.