The BJP has gone through many flip flops on whether to choose a Chief Ministerial candidate for the 2020 Delhi election or not and finally settled on going ahead with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s face. It leaves the election bipolar, to be fought in a Presidential style. Both AAP and BJP will shy away from accepting it, but both know it’s a face-off between Modi and AAP leader and CM Arvind Kejriwal.
While the Delhi unit of the BJP is going big on regularisation of 1,731 unauthorised colonies, many in the party think this is not enough. So while state leaders like Manoj Tiwari, Vijay Goel, and Vijendra Gupta will continue to project it as the BJP’s achievement, the focus of central leadership will continue to be Modi’s “decisive actions”. Abrogation of Article 370, axing of Article 35A, legislations like Triple Talaq and Citizenship Amendment Act will be dominating the BJP’s discourse projecting Narendra Modi as a muscular leader with decision-making capabilities. In absence of any acceptable face, leave aside popular one, this is BJP’s counter to Kejriwal.
Kejriwal, on the other hand, is going to polls, banking on the work he has done. The townhall meetings where he presents his accounts of work done is a deliberate move to present a foil. Accountability is being marketed by the Aam Aadmi Party as if it is a part of the party’s basic ethos. In spite of the BJP running it down as a “failure”, the AAP has projected Mohalla clinics, a localised version of treatment centres as its “commitment towards people”.
If AAP supporters flaunt that electricity bills have gone down to zero, BJP supporters take pride in the fact Kashmir is being united with the mainland India after decades. And in both cases, it’s Kejriwal and Modi who are credited for it by their respective supporters.
In terms of future goals, if AAP is banking on Kejriwal’s promise to clean up the toxic Yamuna River in next five years, the BJP is banking on BJP’s promise of nationwide NRC, something which Modi has retreated from ever since large scale protests erupted in the country. But Modi has never said nationwide NRC will never be brought in, something the BJP stresses during its door to door campaign among its supporters and fence-sitters, in Delhi. The BJP has already identified scores in each of the 70 constituencies of Delhi who are still undecided on who to vote.
At the end, it’s all about the persona of two people and not about two parties. “Acche beete paanch saal”, the slogan of AAP is all about thanking Kejriwal. Many autos are already carrying advertisements in its rear announcing “I love Kejriwal”. BJP, from its Ram Lila rally, “thanked” PM Modi for “giving a life of dignity of people residing in unauthorised colonies” or “saving the dignity of Hindu, Sikh wives, sisters living in Pakistan, by bringing in CAA”.
It’s not a fight of ideologies. Neither it’s a clash of two parties. It’s a direct face-off between two faces that are bigger than their parties or the ideologies they represent. (IANS)