After what happened in the Delhi assembly elections, the question being asked in Mumbai is: Will something similar happen in our city and state?
In its debut elections, Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Admi Party (AAP) wreaked havoc with the established political calculations and emerged as the main opposition party in Delhi. The ruling Congress was reduced to the third position, while the BJP could not get a clear majority. More importantly, the AAP’s performance has forced the established political parties to take note of issues such as corruption and transparency as well as the aspirations of youths in urban India. It also showed how an election can be won without the use of money, caste and religion.
The issues that were raised by the AAP in Delhi are pretty much relevant in Mumbai and other parts of Maharashtra. The AAP used the social media effectively in its election campaign. Its agenda can attract urban youth, who are active on social media. So, will the AAP create some space for itself in Mumbai-Pune or will there be some other party which could do something similar here?
The AAP has definitely put itself on public radar in the state by exposing the irrigation scam in Maharashtra. It was AAP activists like Anjali Damania who dug out information related to the exorbitant increase in irrigation project costs and raised the questions over the same. At this juncture, it is doubtful whether the AAP would get a similar response in Mumbai and its neighbourhood. Anna Hazare’s Jan Lokpal agitation, which laid the foundation for the AAP, did not get a similar response when he sat on hunger strike in Mumbai. However, the party may spring a surprise since it has a team of strategists who can raise the right issues and create a buzz around the same using different types of media.
The urban belt of Mumbai-Pune-Nashik has 60-70 assembly seats where such an experiment may work. That could be enough to upset the calculations of the established political parties. This was what being talked about in the premises of state legislature, as its winter session began in Nagpur on Monday. The state Assembly elections will be held in October-November next year.
Another question being raised in the same context is: Which party can upset the political calculations in a similar way, if not the AAP? Will it be the Raj Thackeray led Maharashtra Navnirman Sena? The results of the Assembly elections in the four states have shown that there is an anti-Congress mood among the people. If it continues till next year and people are looking for an alternative to Congress NCP, can the MNS occupy the space? Political analysts would have replied in the affirmative had it been asked four years ago. In its first Assembly election, the MNS won 13 seats and started on a promising note. However, in the past three years, Raj Thackeray has rarely shown interest in building a statewide organisation or raising issues concerning common man. If people want an alternative and at the same time don’t want to vote for BJP-Shiv Sena — the main opposition parties — they have an option of the MNS. The moot question is: Will people find MNS as a convincing option? Further, will Raj Thackeray be able to convince them that he is a credible option?
GADKARI’S STAKES IMPROVE IN BJP
Though the BJP did not win clear majority in Delhi, the party has emerged as the single largest party. And with it, the stakes of Nitin Gadkari have gone up in the BJP. According to his close aides in Maharashtra, it was Gadkari who had pointed out to the party top brass that Kejriwal’s challenge needed to be taken seriously and convinced them to nominate Harsh Vardhan as party’s chief ministerial candidate in place of Vijay Goel. Gadkari had insisted that Harshvardhan’s clean image would help the party. The result has proved Gadkari right.
His aides say Gadkari’s handling of Delhi elections would help him to re-establish his position in party top brass.