Delhi doesn't vote for parties, the city votes for itself | ht view | Hindustan Times
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Delhi doesn't vote for parties, the city votes for itself

Will Arvind Kejriwal ride the broom to power yet again or will the lotus bloom in the Capital when the votes are counted on February 10? With the assembly election out of the Congress’ hands, this question has captured the imagination of pundits and punters alike.

ht view Updated: Feb 06, 2015 19:34 IST
Pathikrit Sen Gupta
AAP-Leader-Arvind-Kejriwal-s-addressing-public-meeting-at-Trilokpuri-Arun-Sharma-HT-Photo
AAP-Leader-Arvind-Kejriwal-s-addressing-public-meeting-at-Trilokpuri-Arun-Sharma-HT-Photo

Will Arvind Kejriwal ride the broom to power yet again or will the lotus bloom in the Capital when the votes are counted on February 10? With the assembly election out of the Congress’ hands, this question has captured the imagination of pundits and punters alike.



Pollsters with their ears to the ground say the Aam Aadmi Party is ahead by a nose, but concede it’s likely to be a tight finish. Yet, prophesying on the Capital contest can end in ignominy as the ballot cognoscenti discovered about a year ago.



While it’s unlikely to be a Mexican standoff, the Bharatiya Janata Party has had to hold off its campaign for a Congress Mukt Bharat, hoping the grand old party that’s been starving for an election win will eat into the AAP’s vote share.



That’s because despite its string of electoral victories, the BJP seems to have entered Delhi’s poll dance with two left feet. The party has been struggling to put up a united face in the city and its decision to parachute former police officer Kiran Bedi as the chief ministerial candidate has left many senior leaders and workers disgruntled.



Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi– development guru and orator supreme –appeared leaden and distracted while campaigning for his party.



The old-school politicians seem flummoxed because conventional wisdom of politicking doesn’t work in Delhi— a veritable melting pot. Out of ideas, they left the city’s civic agencies far behind in digging up dirt and then chucking it on opponents instead of focusing on what they had to offer to the electorate.



The first thing the AAP did while jumping into the fray was to throw away the manual and that has paid rich dividends.



Analysts say Bedi’s formulae of “5S” and “6P” are doomed to fail because the only alphabet Delhiites really identify with is “I”. In this city, aspirations and a sense of entitlement ride together with parking spaces at a premium.



The Prime Minister’s charisma worked wonders for the BJP as it swept state after state last year following the stunning Lok Sabha win, but in Delhi everyone is someone. Just ask a traffic cop how many times a day he hears the familiar refrain, “Do you know who I am?”



“Modiji chai toh bohut pila rahe hain logonko, lekin usme cheeni dalna bhool gaye hain (Modi is offering tea to everyone, but he forgot to sweeten the deal),” says a tea seller with a makeshift stall near Kashmere Gate.



Delhiites do love their freebies— be it jostling (because queuing up is so Mumbai) for free churan at a trade fair stall in Pragati Maidan or name-dropping to pick up a free pass for a big-ticket event. Kejriwal realised this sooner than his competitors and his promises to cut water and electricity bills forced the BJP and Congress to ape AAP.



There are no permanent vote banks in Delhi and many sitting legislators hoping to cash in on their clout have seen their cheques bounce in past elections.



So, while the slum dwellers and Muslims have gravitated towards the Aam Aadmi Party, leaving the Congress high and dry, the AAP has also managed to wrench from the BJP many votes of the business community with its promises to end extortion and petty corruption.



It’s time the political parties realised Delhi doesn’t vote for them. This city votes for itself.