As the Curtain Falls…Here Comes the Delhi Show

Written by: Pathikrit Payne
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The curtains have finally come down on the suspense surrounding the future of Delhi Legislative Assembly and Government formation with the Union Cabinet giving nod to the proposal of the Lt Governor of Delhi to dissolve the assembly and go ahead for fresh election. The suspense has going on for the last eight months now time since Arvind Kejriwal resigned as the Chief Minister in February this year. With the nation geared up for Lok Sabha elections in May, the issue of Delhi Government was put in the backburner.

For AAP it would be an existential fight

Aam Aadmi Party after having an impressive debut in Delhi Assembly election last year by managing to win 28 seats and eventually forming government with outside support of Congress, had presumed that the decision of Arvind Kejriwal to rescind power after being Chief Minister of Delhi for 49 days would go down well with the electorate of the country and that as a self styled martyr he would go ahead with his Lok Sabha ambitions.

Would it be an Opportunity of Redemption for AAP after a Series of Gigantic Follies?

However, what happened after his decision to contest against Narandra Modi in Varanasi is now history. A humiliating defeat in the hands of Modi by a margin of 3.37 lakh votes and winning barely 4 Lok Sabha seats out of around 400 candidates that the party had put for the Lok Sabha election, brought AAP and its leaders back to common sense and hard ground from cloud nine. Since then Kejriwal has been trying hard to gain lost ground in Delhi and even went on to the extent of accepting that his voluntary resignation in Delhi from the position of Chief Minister was a mistake.

Is AAP as Strong now as it was a Year Back?

While there is no doubt that AAP would go all out for the forthcoming Delhi election as this is going to be an existential fight for them, the party does not remain as strong as it was a year back. Many of its top leaders and popular faces like Shazia Ilmi and Kumar Vishwas have either quit the party or distanced themselves. Some MLAs like Vinod Binny have openly revolted against Kejriwal's leadership style and lack of inner party democracy.

That things are not very hunky dory with AAP was evident from the fact that it desisted from contesting elections in Haryana, one of their supposed strongholds and where the party had claimed to do quite bit of groundwork before the Lok Sabha elections. Meanwhile AAP would also have to do much firefight to justify Kejriwal's act of hasty resignation as CM and then jumping on to the Lok Sabha bandwagon. AAP may also have to face questions of what is the guarantee of AAP not repeating the same.

Where Does Congress Stand....?

There is no doubt that the forthcoming assembly election for Delhi would invariably one which would see BJP pitted primarily against AAP with Congress for obvious reasons being relegated to the third position as has been the case with the assembly election results of 2013 in Delhi.

It is hard to comprehend the steep downfall of the party which a year back was ruling both the Centre and the state of Delhi. However the downfall since the shocking defeat in the assembly elections of December 2013, when it decisively lost in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi and Chhattisgarh, has continued unabated.

In one election after another, since then Congress had to accept shocking defeats with its leadership continuing to be in utter disarray and remaining clueless as to how to stem the rot. While on the face of it, Congress spokespersons continue to put forward a brave front that though on its own cannot undermine or overlook the real issue of leadership crisis in Congress.

For the Party in Perpetual Decline, Would Delhi Election Make a Difference?

There was a time when Congress had a reasonably strong organization in Delhi but that cannot be said of it now. The situation of Delhi Congress is perhaps no different from that of Maharashtra or Haryana when the local leaders were left in the lurch to fight the election and campaign on their own with the top leadership merely having a token presence and contribution. It would be interesting to see as to whether the top leadership of Congress would involve itself in the Delhi election and use it as an opportunity for resurrection of the moribund party though the possibility of the same remains bleak.

Will BJP be able to benefit from the Modi Factor in Delhi as well?

In case of BJP as well, assembly elections in Delhi may not be a cakewalk. Even though the party is on a high after its success in being able to keep up the momentum of the Lok Sabha election victory by having impressive performance in both Maharashtra and Haryana, the fact that BJP does not have any popular face for the Chief Ministerial post of Delhi may pose some challenges for the party.

The CM candidate for the previous election was Dr Harshavardhan who is now the Health Minister in the Narendra Modi Cabinet and it is highly unlikely that he would return to Delhi politics again. Against this backdrop the possibility of BJP banking again on the tried and tested Modi magic to tide over the Delhi challenge may not come as a surprise. BJP thus would most probably go for the elections in Delhi without a declared CM candidate as has been the case with Maharashtra and Haryana.

With the possibility of Delhi elections happening in February remaining high, preceded by state elections in Jharkhand and J&K, one cannot deny that interesting contests are waiting to happen. While BJP would hope to go with the momentum it has created over the last one year centered around Modi, it would be interesting to see whether Congress and AAP succeeds in breaking that or not. There is no doubt that Narendra Modi would intensely involve himself personally in the campaigning as he did in the past. The big question is, would Congress top leadership do the same?

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