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Are the key players battle-ready for Feb 7 Delhi elections? Find out here

With the EC sounding the poll bugle, the political temperature is heating up in Delhi. HT brings to its readers a complete list of major stakeholders, what's at stake for them and who stands where.

india Updated: Jan 13, 2015 16:20 IST
Hindustan Times
Delhi elections,Delhi assembly elections,AAP vs BJP

The national capital will go to the polls on February 7 with the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) hoping to beat its stunning debut performance a year ago, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faces another big test of its popularity after back-to-back election wins at the Centre and in state assemblies.

Results will be announced on February 10 and candidates have just 23 days for campaigning as the model code of conduct kicked in as soon as the Election Commission announced the schedule on Monday.

Delhi has been under President’s Rule for almost a year since the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP quit after just 49 days in office, most of them dominated by public sit-ins, conflicts with electricity, water and law enforcement agencies as well as a power struggle with the Centre.

Most analysts see the election as a two-way contest between the BJP and AAP with price rise and women’s safety emerging as key electoral issues, though the Congress is also looking to revive its fortunes in the 70-member assembly following a string of defeats last year.

Here, HT brings to its readers a complete list of major stakeholders, what's at stake for them and who stands where.

BJP: Eyeing absolute majority

Unable to get the magic number in 2013 assembly elections despite a strong anti-incumbency wave against the ruling Congress, the BJP was forced to sit in the opposition as AAP formed the government with outside support from the Congress.

But with consecutive wins in the Lok Sabha polls and then assembly elections in Haryana, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and a good showing in J-K, the BJP has the momentum going. Also, the party won all seven parliamentary seats in Delhi. However, like the last time, the party is finding it difficult to project a chief ministerial candidate. With too many in the race for the top post, the party has decided to bank entirely on brand Modi to keep infighting at bay.

The party’s campaign has been designed solely around Modi and the Prime Minister will address a rally each in all parliamentary constituencies. Unlike AAP and Congress, the BJP is yet to announce its candidates.

With successive electoral reverses leaving the Congress weak, the party is in a direct contest with AAP. The Arvind Kejriwal party has taken the lead by announcing names for all 70 seats and going door-to-door seeking votes. Though pre-poll surveys are giving a clear majority to the BJP, it remains to be seen whether it lives up to the hype.

AAP: Looking to better 2013 tally

When the AAP came second in 2013 on its electoral debut, winning 28 seats in the 70-member Delhi assembly, volunteers looked ecstatic. Even many of their leaders shared, in private, that the result caught them by surprise as the party went on to rule Delhi for a brief period.

But the decision to quit is something that has never stopped hurting AAP. It still enjoys support among the lower-middle class and the poor of Delhi. But many of those more affluent did not—and continue not to—approve leaving Delhi for national footprint.

The party is projecting its “governance potentials” to demonstrate that it is prepared to stay the course. Through policy blueprints, it is fighting its image of a one-issue (corruption) party driven only by agitation.

The party also has built an organisational structure and is trying to build a perception about the “good works” it did ‘with Congress’ in those 49 days. But this time around nothing short of a clear majority will do.

The question is: will the party get there, as Delhi BJP hides behind party strongman and PM Narendra Modi? “I will not claim that we’re sure to win. It’s tough for us, but it’s no less tough for the BJP,” senior party leader Yogendra Yadav said in a recent address to AAP volunteers.

Congress: Fighting survival battle

Unlike the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party, which are aiming to form a government with a clear majority, something that the either party failed to achieve in the 2013 polls, the fight for the Congress is that of survival.

Despite ruling the Capital for three consecutive terms — between 1998 and 2013 — and a long list of infrastructure projects it completed during its 15-year rule that changed the face of Delhi on its election agenda, the party could not withstand the anti-Congress wave that swept across the city. Its seat tally came down from 43 in 2008 to just eight in 2013.

The party’s poor run continued in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections when all seven sitting members of Parliament lost by huge margins, four of them forfeiting their security deposit.

Not much seems to have changed for the Congress in the past few months. The poor, Dalits and the minorities, which were ardent followers of the Congress and had been voting for the party for the past several years, started gravitating towards the Aam Aadmi Party, which was fighting its debut election, in 2013. The trend continued in 2014 Lok Sabha elections too. The party faces an uphill task of bringing these voters back to its fold.

Fringe players: One cannot just ignore

Big names in other states but marginal forces in Delhi, the Samajwadi Party (SP), Janata Dal (Secular), Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal (United) and Indian National Lok Dal have joined hands to contest the Delhi elections this time.

In the last assembly elections, these parties contested against each other, resulting in a split of votes in all 70 constituencies.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the number three in Delhi till the 2008 assembly elections, will contest all seats separately. From 14.05% vote share in 2008, its slice of the poll pie dipped to 5.35% in 2013. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, it secured just 1.2 % votes.

“We are eager to make a fresh start and finalised candidates in 30 seats. Party president Mayawatiji will address rallies in BSP-dominated areas,” said CP Singh, president of the BSP’s Delhi unit.

The Janata Dal (U) had fielded over 30 candidates and managed to win the Matia Mahal seat last time. The Samajwadi Party had fielded candidates on all 70 seats the last time but failed miserably.

“Together, we will contest all 70 seats, of which the JD (U) will contest on 46. We are working on a combination and every party will be given a constituency where they have target voters,” said Thakur Balbir Singh, Delhi JD (U) president.

Singh said they were analysing the results of the last assembly elections and based on it, tickets would be distributed. Shoaib Iqbal, who had contested the election on a JD (U) ticket and won, has joined the Congress this time.

The Communist Party of India (CPI) too will field its candidate and chances are other small parties will try their luck.

(By Darpan Singh, Neelam Pandey, Atul Mathur and Faizan Haidar)

First Published: Jan 13, 2015 09:56 IST