Will anti-incumbency be a factor this time?

  • Mallica Joshi, None, New Delhi
  • Updated: Jan 19, 2015 14:15 IST

The Congress had paid dearly in the 2013 assembly elections due to a massive anti-incumbency wave against it. But, the assembly elections this year have political pundits in a quandary over against who the factor will hurt since the Capital has been under President’s rule for an year in the run-up to the polls.

While the Congress and the Aam Aadmi Party are targeting the BJP, which is ruling at the Centre, over the alleged slugging pace of development in Delhi and other issues, the BJP has been targeting the AAP for quitting in 49-days pushing the state under President’s rule.

AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, since December, has only talked about the Narendra Modi government’s failure to live up to the promises it made during the BJP’s Lok Sabha election campaign. His party leaders have also alleged corruption in the BJP-ruled municipal corporations in Delhi.

Both the parties are hoping that they can stir-up an anti-incumbency sentiment.

According to AAP leaders, Delhiites will judge the BJP based on the performance of the government at the Centre.

“The prices of vegetables have risen five times in the past few months, CNG has become more expensive and women are unsafe,” Kejriwal said at a press conference right after Modi’s Delhi rally.

AAP leaders, however, do not consider the induction of Kiran Bedi in the BJP to be a big issue.

“According to our internal reports, her joining the BJP is going to backfire on the party. If the BJP thinks they can ride on the Modi wave, they have to know that we are making sure that everyone knows that his government failed to fulfil almost all its promises,” said a senior AAP leader, who did not want to be named.

According to a senior official, the municipal corporations are facing acute financial crunch.

The commissioner and other officials had proposed to increase taxes in the budget to generate money and run the civic bodies. This proposal, however, was scrapped by the BJP to ensure that there is no anti-incumbency. “The condition of the civic bodies is so bad that the government could not even announce a new project or pay salaries to their staff. All the existing projects are stuck or delayed,” said a senior civic agency official.

According to experts, the requirements for an anti-incumbency sentiment to thrive are far from met in Delhi’s case this year.

“No one really equates the municipal corporations as government bodies or an authority so the attempt to use that to judge whether there is anti-incumbency is futile. As for the central government, the AAP has been telling people that these elections are for the chief minister and not the prime minister. The message is more or less stuck in people’s head,” said Sanjay Kumar, director, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.

“Unless the government at the centre is very unpopular, it can’t be a factor in these elections. The only place where it might work is at the level of MLAs and candidates. This won’t be against any specific party,” he added.

“For there to be anti-incumbency a government requires stability and a certain amount of time. To be fair to both sides, neither AAP nor BJP has achieved much in this period,” said Shiv Vishvanathan, political sociologist.

(with inputs from Shashank Shekhar)

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