The Aam Aadmi Party’s biggest challenge in the upcoming assembly polls will be to win back the confidence of upper-middle class voters, its crucial support base which had shifted to the BJP.
AAP has a strong support base among the underprivileged classes, but in its effort to get a majority, the party is using ‘urbane reach-out campaigns’ to woo the upper-middle class votes that form 15-17% of the city’s 12 million voters.
The party’s internal assessments indicate “an upward trend, but it is still not getting there”. “This base has definitely shrunk for us if you compare the assembly and Lok Sabha polls. But that’s because people didn’t find AAP as an alternative when chosing a PM. But our vote share went up from 29.3% to 32.9%,” said senior party leader Aashish Khetan.
Polling data suggests that AAP’s upper middle class support base — mainly business class and top executives — has come down from 32% to 25% between the two elections but BJP’s share has gone up from 42% to 65%, largely due to PM Narendra Modi’s charisma.
“For the upper middle-class, ‘hope from Modi’ replaced ‘anger against Congress’. His aggressive social media campaigns worked too,” admitted a party strategist.
Upper middle-class constituencies include Rohini, Shakur Basti, Shalimar Bagh, Chandni Chowk, Matia Mahal, Malviya Nagar, Karol Bagh, Defence Colony, Lajpat Nagar, Greater Kailash and Vishwash Nagar.
Delhi has around 25 urban constituencies. In the Lok Sabha elections, AAP trailed on 14 of these seats. To bridge this gap, AAP has launched its reach-out campaign Delhi Dialogue with issues related to urban youth.
“The overwhelming response to our Delhi Dialogue proves we’re regaining parts of our lost territory. People were slightly upset because of varied reasons including our resignation in 49 days. But they have expressed their anger once,” said Khetan.
In terms of middle-class voters — mostly government employees and other salaried people — BJP is again ahead of AAP but there’s not much change between the two elections. Polling data suggests that in 2014 elections, AAP got 33% of this segment, while BJP got 43%.
“People in middle-class areas such as Mayur Vihar, Rohini, Pitampura, Kasturba Nagar, Gole Market and Laxmibai Nagar were upset because of our dharnas. We’re regaining people’s trust there as well,” said an AAP leader.