Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Decoded: Here's why BJP President Amit Shah desperately wants to win Delhi............

The stakes are incredibly high- both for Arvind Kejriwal and Amit Shah
The desperation is all too stark. After launching an ambitious Mission 60 in the run-up to the polls, now BJP is scrapping to get to reach the finish line. Opinion polls after polls are showing BJP losing ground to Aam Admi Party, some even showing AAP sneaking ahead of BJP. That too merely 8 months after achieving a clean sweep in Delhi. And party president Amit Shah is not taking this vastly changed situation lightly. 
In meeting after meeting, he has spoken about how winning Delhi will ensure that it remains a citadel for 20-25 years and how it will lay the groundwork for future victory in states like Bihar. For achieving this victory and to ensure that AAP is defeated in the election, Shah has even deviated from his core strategy. One is the almost Indira Gandhi like model adopted by BJP, where Modi became the default CM face also in the poll bound states. This has been let go to make way for Bedi. Secondly and most importantly, an organisation based party has forsaken its core policy, where karyakartas become leaders over a period of time. If Delhi BJP leaders are grumpy today, they have a valid reason for it. But the party is firm on its decision because the goal is to win Delhi as well as crush and dispirit AAP.
But why is Amit Shah putting such a heavy weight on Delhi, which only accounts for miniscule proportion of India's total voters. Let's examine the reasons:
To break the spirit of AAP
Many people thought that after the demoralising performance in the Lok Sabha election, AAP will be finished. But credit, where it is due, the party regrouped and fine tuned its strategy and concentrated solely on Delhi. But if the party fails to win significant number of seats in this election, it may actually see a deluge of desertions. Remember, AAP is a party strong on ground sentiments with majority of people not 'hardcore' politician. Hence their resilience to a decimation is likely to be relatively low. In a way it's a do- or die battle for them. 
To continue BJP's expansion plan
BJP is looking to expand beyond its traditional centres to places far flung in the east and south. One implicit assumption is that the party will be in relatively safe territory in its traditional bastion for the coming 5 years at least. A shocking Delhi defeat can halt this expansion process as the party will be forced to regroup and redirect its forces. It will also give other opposition parties a belief that now seemingly invincible BJP can be defeated in future.
To ensure AAP doesn't take Congress's position
Narendra Modi had campaigned for a Congress Mukt Bharat before the general elections. The grand old party is in shambles and its future looks bleak by all account. BJP is looking to grab the vacuum to become the default party of governance, and more importantly to form a unipolar polity ( a dangerous thought for democracy). But if AAP wins Delhi, make no mistake it will try to ambitiously expand, which was Kejriwal's strategy in the first case. Many disillusioned Congress workers and leaders may also jump ship. The left liberal space of this country is currently vacant, and a win in Delhi can propel AAP to that space conveniently. Kejriwal will be projected as the next best hope for middle class. It will also keep the centrist voters interested, who may shift loyalty depending on the performance of Modi government in the centre.  
To show that Modi wave is still going on
Now, sooner or later the wave is bound to ebb, and the last phase of elections indicated it may have well past its peak. But for BJP, its important that the buzz of wave continues, as in many cases undecided voters tend to align with the party which they perceive is most likely to win. The government is taking some bold reform steps, but inevitably they will take some time to reflect. Except softening of inflation (mainly due to external factors) there has been no perceptible change in condition of common man in 'real terms'. So until the reforms undertaken by the NDA start showing results, an euphoria regarding Modi suits BJP. But an abrupt defeat in Delhi can put the juggernaut to a screeching halt. 
For smooth functioning of the Budget session: 
It's no guarantee that BJP win will ensure a smooth functioning of Parliament, but a win will certainly leave opposition crestfallen going to the Budget session of Parliament. This alongside with chiding of President to all political parties means some actual work may happen and crucial reforms like GST may be pushed through, but a BJP defeat will give more tentacles to the opposition to create ruckus in the Parliament. 
So, all in all even with 70 seats, much hinges on Delhi for the BJP. Not only because it is the power centre of the country, but also because demolition of AAP can have long term ramification, about how the polity of the country will be designed in the future. 

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