January 13, 2015

DELHI POLLS 2014 - Part I

MODI v/s KEJRIWAL - ACTION SHIFTS FROM VARANASI TO DELHI

In April last year, AAP supremo and former CM of Delhi Arvind Kejriwal announced his candidature against BJP's PM nominee Narendra Modi from the prestigious constituency of Varanasi along the banks of the River Ganga. Till then, it had been a fairy tale journey for the former IRS officer who was less than an year old in politics. Four months earlier, his newly launched outfit had managed to do the impossible; in the Delhi state polls, the Aam Admi Party (AAP) had a dream debut as it ended with a superlative tally of 28 seats, catapulting it amongst the most popular parties in the political arena. With 'corruption' occupying the central stage, the AAP's vision of a 'graft-free' India found popular support amongst the masses. In spite of falling short of a majority on its own, Kejriwal was sworn in as the Chief Minister of the capital after the Congress party which the former revenue officer had earlier referred to as the 'most corrupt political party' decided to give him outside support for the sake of keeping the 'communal' forces a.k.a the BJP at bay. The arrangement did not remain for long though; after a 49 day tenure largely marred by many unwanted controversies that further hit the outfit's credibility, Kejriwal resigned as he did not have the numbers to pass his pet - Lokpal Bill.

He did not lose heart though; encouraged by the success of his experiments in Delhi, Kejriwal chose to put all the drama behind and decided to go for the big prize. Though his infant party lacked organization and structure in most parts of the country, he decided to nominate candidates from over 400 parliamentary seats. And as if to drive home a point, he personally jumped into the fray against Gujarat CM Modi who was emerging as the clear front runner to the post of country's next PM. Unfortunately, Kejriwal's gamble failed. As the BJP painted the entire country in saffron, the former Delhi CM cut a sorry figure, with many raising questions over his political future.

In my opinion, the Aam Admi Party paid a heavy price for being 'over ambitious'. At a time when Narendra Modi was raising the hopes of a nation that was feeling let down by its incumbent regime through his agenda of 'inclusive development', Kejriwal's campaign of targeting politicians found relatively fewer takers. This was reflected in the results as AAP managed to win just four seats. It was routed in its stronghold of Delhi; most of its prominent leaders including the likes of Kumar Vishwas, Shazia Ilmi and Yogendra Yadav lost to their high profile opponents. And most importantly, the AAP chief himself was trounced by Modi by an impressive margin of over 3.37 lakh votes.

Though he won the face-ff against Kejriwal in Varanasi, the incumbent PM is certainly not the one to forgive and forget. As such, when he spoke at an election rally to kick start the saffron outfit's campaign for Delhi, he tore into the AAP chief's rather short-lived tenure as the state's CM. Though he did not take names, Modi advised the former IRS officer who had once called himself an 'anarchist' to join hands with the Naxals. In a bid to prevent the AAP from drawing political mileage from their move to cut electricity tariffs, the PM promised to raise power generation in the country to make sure it is available for all at cheaper rates. In his 38 minute speech, the PM's went on a complete offensive against Kejriwal aware that the battle for Delhi would be a direct contest between the BJP and the AAP.

Now, he may be down but the AAP leader is definitely not out. After all, even the idea to contest against Modi from Varanasi was a gutsy one. And in spite of a series of setbacks last year, Kejriwal refused to take the salvos fired by the PM lying down. Speaking to the media after the PM's election rally, he refuted the charges against him. Besides, he also accused the BJP government of failing to fulfill the promises it made to the people prior to the General Polls.

So, the stage is set for the second part of the Modi v/s Kejriwal saga. Will Modi make it 2-0 or will the AAP chief make him eve-steven? Lets wait and watch.


For all posts in this series on Delhi Elections 2015, click here (Link)