Anti-incumbency against Centre helped Congress
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Anti-incumbency against Centre helped Congress

Cong retained Delhi as anti-incumbency factor against Centre proved to be greater than anti incumbency against Sheila Govt, writes Pankaj Vohra.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2003 12:51 IST
Pankaj Vohra
Pankaj Vohra

If the Congress rout in the hindi heartland was halted by Delhi it was essentially because the anti incumbency factor against the Centre proved to be greater than than the anti incumbency factor against the Delhi government.

The victory for the Congress in the national capital which is also regarded as mini India by our politicians should provoke the BJP leaders to think of a fresh strategy for the Parliamentary polls since showcasing the performance of the NDA government could prove to be inadequate.

While no one can take the credit away from Sheila Dikshit for the spectacular win of her party, the outcome has demonstrated that the traditional middle class base of the BJP has been eroded to such a large degree that even the valiant fight put up by Madan Lal Khurana could not off set the anti incumbency factor against the Centre.

The evidence of the strong anti feeling vis-a-vis the Central government came to fore in the New Delhi Parliamentary constituency as also in R.K.Puram where a large number of government employees live. The BJP was routed in Gole Market and Minto Road by convincing margins and lost the Sarojini Nagar seat for the first time. In RK Puram too, the Congress was victorious.

The crumbling of the BJP's middle class vote bank was also demonstrated by its drubbing in areas comprising group housing clusters or DDA dwelling units. The Congress win in Trilokpuri, Vishwas Nagar, Mandavali, Patparganj as also in Mahipalpur and a large number of areas of Outer Delhi including Tri Nagar.

While the BJP somehow managed to hold its own in the belt running from Janakpuri, Tilak Nagar, Hari Nagar and Moti Nagar, its other citadels fell one by one. Dr Harsh Vardhan was the only one who withstood the onslaught of the Congress in the trans Yamuna area and in the process retained his seat for the third time in a row.

There seem to several factors responsbile for the BJP's dwindling fortunes in the capital. Unemployment and a slump in business activity have disillusioned the middle classes who have also been severely affected by the UTI scam or other scams.

In addition, laying off on account of privatisation and disinvestment have hit the party's vote bank as also issues such as shifting of industries. The BJP's traditional voter and supporter could never imagine that what never happened to him or her during the Congress rule at the Centre happened when their own party was in power at the Centre.

While in Madhya Pradesh,. Rajasthan and Chattisgarh, the party took the help of the caste card to supplement the anti incumbency factor, in Delhi, a metropolis, it was unable to find any method of loosening Sheila Dikshit's grip on the middle classes and realised very late that anti incumbency against its own government was huge.

The poor and the marginalised have usually voted for the Congress and when Dikshit brought the middle classes towards the Congress there was no way, the BJP could have won in Delhi despite the most mismanaged election contested by the Congress so far.

The result would have been in confrmity with the surveys had the Congress not messed up on choice of candidates and had Khurana not led the BJP fight back. Interestingly, all members of the Khurana government in 1993 who contested this time won. They include Jagdish Mukhi, Harsharan Singh Balli, SP Ratawal, Harsh Vardhan. Lal Behari Tewari and Sahib Singh are members of Parliament.

First Published: Dec 05, 2003 12:00 IST