As the campaigning for the crucial Delhi Assembly election has entered its last leg, every party is leaving no stones unturned to gain an edge over their rivals. Thus, battlefield Delhi between the BJP and AAP, which are the top contenders in the poll race, is getting meaner and personal with every passing day.
Both the BJP and AAP are attacking each others' chief ministerial candidates Kiran Bedi and Arvind Kejriwal, respectively, to prove themselves as a better option. But, it seems nothing is working BJP's way as the party's momentum has dipped in the final lap of the poll race. Like a T20 game, fortunes have switched sides from the BJP, which until recently was seen as the favourite in the national capital, to rival AAP, which is giving a neck to neck fight to the saffron surge now.
The BJP has literally used every bow in its quiver to puncture the AAP surge but all seems to be going in vain. Here we are trying to analyse what eventually happened which has shifted the BJP on the back foot.
Kiran Bedi factor seems to have backfired
Days before filing of nomination papers in the poll bound Delhi, the BJP inducted former IPS officer and a former Arvind Kejriwal close associate, Kiran Bedi, and went on to declare her as party's CM candidate.
Initially, everybody considered it to be Amit Shah's masterstroke and started calling Bedi as the party's prized catch. This happiness proved out to be a short lived one for the BJP as this decision created dissent within the party. An infuriated section of BJP workers in the party protested against the party leadership's decision.
The party had hardly taken a sigh of relief by pacifying the angry cadre when the AAP called Bedi an opportunist who compromised on her ethics and joined the BJP for fulfilling her political ambitions. Even the social media, which is playing a crucial role in the Delhi elections, is skeptical about Kiran Bedi.
The youth on social media is not very happy with Bedi's speeches and her inability to draw massive crowd as compared to her rival Kejriwal. They feel Bedi is Delhi BJP's panic button. Her political speeches are boring, she has no control over Delhi BJP and hasn't been scrutinised politically. She has a teacher's vision for Delhi.
AAP got fresh ammunition to fire at Bedi, BJP's candidate from Krishna Nagar assembly seat, as well as BJP when she refused to participate in an open debate with Kejriwal. The AAP utilised this issue to the best of its ability and created an impression that Bedi is afraid of AAP's terse questions.
Until recently, the party cadre was looking confused for it didn't knew in whose name it should seek votes, party's poster boy Narendra Modi or Kiran Bedi.
Hence, projecting Kiran Bedi as its chief ministerial candidate has not worked for the BJP in Delhi.
Giving tickets to defectors from Congress, AAP
The BJP gave tickets to several former AAP or Congress leaders who left their parties after they were denied tickets. This infuriated some party workers who came out on the road to protest against the same. There is a long list of leaders like Krishna Tirath (former Congress MP), Vinod Kumar Binny and MS Dhir (former AAP MLAs), etc got a seat in this year's poll. This has sent a message that the BJP has lost confident in its own cadre and is thus relying over defectors and fielding them.
Party workers who are associated with the BJP for decades are feeling cheated and are questioning the leadership's intentions.
AAP's campaign strategy better than BJP's
If there is one one front where the AAP has definitely left any of its rivals way behind, then it is AAP's campaigning strategy. Unlike AAP the BJP until recently was unaware in whose name it should seek votes in Delhi. The BJP didn't take lessons from AAP which first apologised to the people of Delhi for abruptly resigning from the government and later sought votes by giving a cry 'Panch saal Kejriwal'.
Till Kiran Bedi's name was announced by the party chief Amit Shah, the BJP was relying on PM Modi. It was only after the big announcement when the cadre started seeking votes in her name.
The intensity with which AAP is campaigning in Delhi is far ahead of its rivals BJP and Congress. The BJP has lagged a behind of AAP on this particular front. One also feels that the BJP has started the poll campaign a bit late. There isn't a nook and corner in the national capital which AAP has not covered. You may not see a BJP or a Congress poster but you'll surely come across an AAP poster with its symbol 'broom'.
Also, the BJP workers were pressed into action only after the names of candidates were announced. Whereas AAP which had announced its candidates way before EC's declaration got more time to connect with the voters.
Statements from fringe groups created resentment amongst minority
The insensitive statements from several BJP and fringe group leaders have dented the party's image and their divisive remarks alienated the minority community from the party. Whether it is the statement from BJP MPs like Sadhvi Niranjan Jyoti and Sakshi Maharaj or the issue of conversion raised by the RSS and VHP leaders.
Even Prime Minister Narendra Modi failed to reign in on Hindutva forces and prevent them from giving divisive remarks. The Hindutva groups continued with their controversial statements on 'Ghar Wapsi', four kids per Hindu family, etc have all went against the BJP.
Opinion polls projecting AAP as a front runner
If there is anything that has dented the BJP's prospects in Delhi the most then it is the opinion poll surveys. Pre-poll surveys conducted till Nov last year predicted that BJP is comfortably getting clear majority in the 70-member Delhi assembly. As the poll dates are approaching the surveys are now predicting the voters base are shifting towards AAP. They are now claiming that difference between BJP and AAP has greatly reduced.
Opinion polls now are predicting that AAP is getting past the BJP and it will comfortably form a majority government in Delhi. At a time BJP was getting 45+ seats in Delhi which has now reduced to 30 to 32 seats, say surveys. Also, AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal still remains Delhi's top choice for CM and BJP's Kiran Bedi is still the second choice.
BJP changing guards with every passing day
All this is forcing the BJP to change guards every couple of days. The party has put entire machinery into action to ensure a victory in Delhi. From inducting new faces in the party to assigning new responsibilities to Union Ministers, the party is coming up with a new strategy with every passing day. This somewhere reflects the BJP's anxiety and desperation in the run up to Delhi polls.