Delhi polls: Interesting fight but Sheila Dikshit still has an edge

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Three sides have big stakes in the December 4 assembly elections in Delhi. The ruling Congress, the opposition BJP and the new kid on the block, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). The triangular fight makes Delhi the most interesting among all the assembly poll battles this season but who will have the last laugh?

The Congress: Sheila is Congress's Modi, won't be easy to defeat her

Let us take the Congress first. The government of Sheila Dikshit in Delhi is prhaps the only Congress government in the country which has survived on positive issues like governance and not just on th legacy of a political surname.

The veteran chief minister of Delhi has a reputation as an administrator, which has helped her to continue in power for 15 years now. An average citizen of Delhi has little reason to equate a tainted government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with the effective government of Dikshit in Delhi.

AAP's negative politics & BJP's ineffective role as an Oppn might help Congress

For those who think that the overall corruption charges against the Congress and the thin crowd at Rahul Gandhi's rallies in Delhi will invariably lead to the Congress's defeat in Delhi, it is perhaps a bit of oversimplifying things. If the BJP is ecstatic about its popular chief minister Narendra Modi, the Congress is no less proud about Dikshit's credentials as the CM. At least in Delhi, the party has a strong poll face in the 75-year-old leader.

BJP: In a mess, will be difficult to hit back

This brings us to the second big party in the fray, which is the BJP. The saffron party has failed miserably to produce an alternative face to Dikshit, making Delhi a case identical to Gujarat. There was no headache ever for Dikshit to continue with her stint in power until Arvind Kejriwal emerged a couple of years ago.

The BJP is trying to downplay this weakness and even ignoring the AAP's prospects in the polls. The party is banking on Narendra Modi's popularity too much for the Delhi polls but how much possible will it be for Modi to make her party win if there is no strong local face to take up the fight? It was proved earlier this year in the Karnataka polls.

Modi can create a wave in favour of his party but can the BJP improve on its stagnant vote-share in Delhi this time (its vote share in the 2003 assembly poll was 35.2%, in 2008 assembly poll was 36.3% and in the 2009 Lok Sabha poll was again 35.2%) without addressing issues at the local organisational level? Moreover, in the 2008 assembly election, there were at least 30 seats where the BJP's loss margin was in and around 10 per cent.

The BSP gained at the expense of the BJP in Delhi. This time, the presence of Arvind Kejriwal has made it all the more tough for the party.

The BJP, bolstered by the Modi factor, is mocking the Congress leadership saying it is afraid of matching Modi's mega rallies in Delhi. But is it equally concerned about the party's internal harmony in Delhi? Its choice and timing on the chief ministerial candidate could also be a worry.

AAP: Lots of promises but how much can it do on the ground?

This brings us to the AAP, the dark horse this election season. The party so far has seen a fairy tale run but only till the time of election. The AAP will certainly make history if it even comes close to power within just a year of formation but realpolitik isn't an easy sail.

The party was found rattled a couple of time in th run up to the polls which is mainly because of its inexperience. Most of the common people are hoping for a AAP victory from a sense of passion but the bubble could bust if the situation demand a post-poll alliance between the AAP and either of the major parties. That could be an interesting twist in the tale for any such alliance is bound to impact the AAP's image. The excessively negative campaigning of the AAP is also a reason that could leave an adverse impact on its poll prospects.

Thus, irrespective of women's safety concern in Delhi or the rising power tariff, the alternative on offer before the electorate is not exactly in a sound health. December 8 will be a very interesting day for the people of Delhi. It's a fair battle with a slight edge in favour of Sheila, if not the Congress.

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