AAP’S FIVE RIGHT MOVES

Dislodging BJP’s state president: Irrespective of the stature Satish Upadhyay enjoyed in Delhi, whose elevation displeased many in Delhi BJP, his demotion pushing him to the periphery after Aam Aadmi Party’s ‘hit and run’ allegation on him having nexus with Delhi power discoms (that allegedly hurt the power consumers), helped AAP getting the initial advantage needed to build further on.

The timing of Kiran Bedi’s sudden induction and Satish Upadhyay’s sidelining after AAP’s allegation were certainly not isolated developments. BJP’s counter reaction on allegation was a routine retort. Instead of taking on AAP with conviction, the party chose to sacrifice Upadhyay. That sent the message that BJP was getting defensive (and so there was some truth in the allegation). Bedi’s sudden elevation, when seen in context of Narendra Modi’s January 10 rally launching BJP’s Delhi campaign that performed below expectations and sidelining of Upadhyay after the allegation, further conveyed that the party was in panic.

Largely positive campaigning: Though AAP reiterated most of what it had promised in its 2013 poll manifesto, its leaders went on talking about them empathically while interacting with people, while appealing for votes. They focused on their own agenda while targeting the opponents and didn’t follow the negative way of campaigning that BJP resorted to. They seldom got personal, something that we saw in Kiran Bedi’s case. While Bedi did launch personal attacks on Kejriwal, senior AAP leaders including Kejriwal desisted from launching personal attack on Kejriwal’s ‘India Against Corruption’ colleague. AAP’s personal attacks on Kiran Bedi were mostly to reply Bedi’s personal attacks, like calling Kejriwal ‘bhagora (someone who ran away).

Turning 49 days of governance into an asset: After Kejriwal’s deserter act in February 2014 that left Delhi without a government for a year, his ‘deserter tag’ was the main talking point on every political opponent’s agenda for targeting Kejriwal.

Kejriwal tried all to justify his ‘deserter act’ saying he didn’t betray the trust of Delhiites but was later on forced to apologise. However, once the sense prevailed, no matter how, he kept on repeating his ‘apology’ saying ‘we committed mistake’ while requesting people to judge him and his party by his work of 49 days and what he could do based on that if he was given the full five years.

And there were indeed millions, from the poor in the slums, from lower and middle income areas, street vendors, auto drivers, traders, who experienced extortion and corruption free days when police, MCD and routine office corruption (even in regional transport offices) were effectively kept in check. AAP’s water and power subsidies were implemented as promised.

For voters, oppressed under a system that makes corruption a part of life, these steps were big enough to ignore the wrongs of AAP then (and even now).

And the thought of having such days for full five years can be a big motivator for voters of Delhi and Arvind Kejriwal and AAP have been able to convey this effectively countering the ignominy of the ‘deserter tag’.

Kejriwal is not an angry soul anymore: Arvind Kejriwal looks much more relaxed and composed now while campaigning. The ‘activist to politician’ metamorphosis is complete it seems. He did not target Narendra Modi. He said he would not respond to the personal attacks on him and maintained his stand. Kiran Bedi targeted him but he invited her for public debate requesting the BJP CM nominee to unblock him from her Twitter account. Except Satish Upadhyay ‘expose’ (in fact, no expose at all), he, largely, did not practice his ‘hit and run’ style of campaigning. Instead, he utilized his energy in intensive campaigning addressing people and holding over hundred public meetings across Delhi.

Acting politically correct: To correct a system, one needs to be part of it – okay, it cannot be said that AAP here is for political activism to cleanse politics as they always say unless we see them doing so consistently over some years – but they are well, part of the system now – and they are trying to act politically correct, speaking to every religion and class, not sounding pro to some while discriminating against others.

Today, a day before Delhi votes, Arvind Kejriwal visited holy places of all four major religions that matter in Delhi polls to seek blessings. His party vocally declined Imam Bukhari’s pledge of support. His party’s spokesperson was detained while protesting against the acts of vandalism in Delhi churches.

Let’s see if these moves help AAP emerge triumphant when the results are out on February 10.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

AAP PROJECTED TO WIN DELHI: SOME INTROSPECTIVE QUESTIONS FOR BJP (I)

THE QUESTIONS

After the results of the final rounds of opinion polls of some major agencies on February 3..

1. Narendra Modi says we will prove the pre-poll surveys wrong by winning Delhi. On the same day, February 4, a day after the final round of many opinion polls gave Aam Aadmi Party a clear majority, Venkaiah Naidu says ‘Delhi polls not a referendum on Modi government’s performance’. First signs of growing realization within Bhartiya Janata Party that it may not yet again form the government in Delhi?

2. Is there really a positive swing for AAP in the Delhi assembly polls?

3. BJP was ahead in pre-poll projections in December and January. If so, what changed from January to February?

4. BJP was clearly ahead in December round of pre-poll surveys. It led even many of January surveys. But in the final round of surveys in February, AAP is way ahead and is projected to get clear majority, building on the gains that it made in late January surveys. Did BJP fail in gauging moods to fine tune its campaigning strategy?

5. Does Delhi’s voters’ profile – largely made of poor, middle class and youth – along with Muslims – restricted in a limited geographical stretch of high population density having thus greater information access on developments happening in real time – make it possible for this rapid change, thus making it acceptable to us by the goings of the moment?

6. What happened in January that BJP started slipping so rapidly?

7. Why did BJP fail to capitalize on Arvind Kejriwal’s ‘deserter act’ that left Delhi without a government for a year when he resigned just after 49 days in office with a clearly lame reason, or no reason at all – the central theme of the campaigning of Kejriwal’s opponents?

8. Or the ‘deserter act’ was blown out of proportion given the fact that AAP had registered an increase in its vote share in Delhi in Lok Sabha polls from its assembly polls performance in December 2013?

9. Was para-dropping Kiran Bedi just 22 days before the polls was too little, too late to take on a CM candidate, Arvind Kejriwal, who remained the first choice of majority of voters for CM even when BJP was being projected to win Delhi – in earlier rounds of opinion polls?

10. Was para-dropping Kiran Bedi, an outsider, a tactical blunder that alienated BJP’s Delhi leadership and local party workers?

11. BJP began its campaigning in a negative mode, focusing on targeting AAP and Kejriwal while the development related promises were pushed to periphery. With time, it got louder. Has that harmed BJP, helping thus AAP and Arvind Kejriwal?

12. What role did the BJP’s conditional campaign or campaign focusing heavily on a conditional proposition play in BJP’s dull show – that the voters should vote for BJP if they have see a developed Delhi as it would facilitate the coordination between union government and the government in Delhi? Did they refuse to buy it in the world’s largest democracy?

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

MODI’S LOK SABHA POLLS ADVANTAGE IS WHAT KEJRIWAL’S ADVANTAGE IN DELHI POLLS

The advantage that Narendra Modi had then, is what Arvind Kejriwal has now.

Like Narendra Modi was the central target of the opponents in the Lok Sabha election that helped him ultimately, increasing his visibility when others failed to declare a credible name against him, Arvind Kejriwal is in the line of fire of the political rivals.

We knew Rahul Gandhi was the de facto Congress candidate but Congress always shied away in making his name official. Then there were names from the so-called Third Front but they could never come on a page as all of them harboured equally strong prime ministerial ambitions.

Everyone was targeting Modi. And Modi had the most intensive campaigning schedule mapping length and breadth of the country. Every development helped him get added scales of visibility – the media time, visibility on airwaves, presence in print media, in top slots trending on Internet and social media. And as the it was coming from a fractured group of rivals including Congress that was sweating from the heat of a sky-high anti-incumbency, their words and acts only helped Modi positively.

The country, its youth, its middle class, its poor, its economy, they needed development, they sought improvement in their quality of life and Modi was the only face to reassure them to deliver with over a decade of proven track record of development based governance.

There may not be sky-high anti-incumbency against the Lieutenant-Governor rule that is seen as the rule of the Central government, and so of BJP, but the mood is certainly not the positive one with stalled projects and development acts.

Then, there is corruption to deal with. Some 60% of Delhi is economically backward, living on some Rs 13,000 a month and corruption makes their lives bleed, day by day. The youth need job. The law and order issues need to be redressed to the level of satisfaction that Delhi can shed the tag of being the rape capital. The middle class needs respite on issues like higher electricity tariffs and even highly volatile onion prices. Piped water is still not available to many parts of the Indian capital city. Delhi Metro has become lifeline, but is the only soothing element in otherwise crumbling public transportation.

And Delhi’s electoral arena to elect a chief-minster and his/her government to work on these problem areas did not have a credible name except Arvind Kejriwal when the elections were announced on January 12. And we need to keep in mind the campaigning had begun much earlier, in November, when the L-G had decided that elections were the only way out of the Delhi government formation deadlock.

There was no clear name except Kejriwal, not even from BJP, the party that had won the largest number of seats in 2013 assembly polls, and not from Congress, the party that had ruled Delhi for 15 years before seeing a humiliating loss.
Kejriwal had ruled Delhi for 49 days and then, in a miscalculated hurry riding high on arrogance, left for greener pastures but soon was forced to accept his mistakes when he was brought to the reality with AAP was shown the door by the voters in the Lok Sabha polls – when we go by his claims before the polls. Anyway, much has been written about that episode and it seems Delhi’s population has forgiven Kejriwal, looking to give him a full chance, based on his performance of 49 days, that saw effective checks on corruption, relief in prices on some fronts including electricity and day to day extortion by police.

It was evident from the ratings that consistently put Kejriwal as the most popular leader, much above the rest, something that was with Modi in the Lok Sabha polls.

In desperation, fuelled by the ‘below expectation crowds’ in Modi’s first rally, BJP started ratcheting up attacks on Kejriwal and brought in Kiran Bedi, but it was too little, too late. The final pre-poll surveys today say Kiran Bedi’s induction in fact has helped Kejriwal improve his popularity rating and add to the donations for AAP.

But BJP failed to realize it here and kept on doing the same thing with Arvind Kejriwal that opponents did with Modi then, targeting him with the might of BJP’s campaigning machinery that looked to sweep Delhi.

BJP failed to realize that it needed to keep this most important factor in check – the psychology, the inclination of youth, middle classes and poor- to support the one whom they can identify with – and Kejriwal has certainly identifiable for them – to be in solidarity with the one who is taking on the mightier ones – and AAP is no match for BJP and Congress in terms of resources and experience. According to the final round of India Today pre-poll survey, AAP was projected to get maximum share of votes in slum, lower income and middle income areas.

Yes, BJP and Narendra Modi were not poor in resources or experience in the Lok Sabha polls, but Modi’s political past and the allegations of Gujarat riots made him the easy target of every other political outfit that he exploited well with his humble background. The tea-seller on the course to change the future of India and its people – being hounded by the political opponents – because of his poor background and because of his backward caste lineage – was a big crowd puller – and a big psychological connect for the impoverished masses.

Arvind Kejriwal is not from that modest background. In fact, he comes from the most elite of the lot – Indian civil services. But, it is a fact that he has had good enough years behind him as a social activist and he resigned from the civil services to pursue his activism engagements. And he stands certainly nowhere even remotely near to BJP and Congress in terms of resources to contest polls. It is not even modest when seen in comparison and Kejriwal has been exploiting this poverty quite well the way Modi talked about his modest background in the Lok Sabha polls.

Arvind Kejriwal is the target of his political opponents and he is the most credible CM, even if we factor in Kiran Bedi’s entry in the fray on January 19, with Kiran Bedi’s dull show so far and there are no days left for Narendra Modi and Kiran Bedi to spring a surprise if we go by the pre-poll projections.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

THE CARDINAL MISTAKES — IF BJP FAILS TO FORM GOVERNMENT IN DELHI!

Reacting in panic on almost every development that began with the campaign launch rally of January 10 . The ‘Abhinandan Rally’ was marketed in the name of Narendra Modi with big media push but turned out a letdown. The expected range of crowd, in the range of one lakh, was a morale busting 30,000-40,000. Since then, BJP has been changing its strategy regularly and the local leadership has been virtually disengaged from campaigning.

Not setting its Delhi house in order even if there was enough time, a year, between Arvind Kejriwal’s resignation in February 2014 and assembly polls in February 2015. Delhi BJP was a divided house with factions furthering their agenda. This factionalism was evident when none of the MPs took active interest in mobilizing public for the Abhinandan Rally. Delhi BJP remains a divided house even when the polls are just four days away.

Para-dropping Kiran Bedi to address these concerns, looking at her as someone a panacea for all BJP woes in Delhi. And before doing that, senior BJP leaders were not taken into confidence.

Considering Kiran Bedi a masterstroke when there were equal chances that the decision could backfire also. Kiran Bedi, before it, was never tested politically, and did not have the privilege of an absolutely clean figure. She had her fair share of controversies like allegations of inflated airfare bills, controversy on her daughter’s admission in a medical college, her U-turn on not joining politics, her U-turn on Narendra Modi and controversies related to her career as an IPS officer including the spat with lawyers in Delhi that make her an un-middle class personality as well.

BJP miscalculated on Kiran Bedi’s appeal thinking it could be linked to Narendra Modi’s mass appeal and could well be used as an alternative, local face for BJP.

BJP miscalculated that it could take on an activist-turned politician with another activist-turned politician hoping their days when they worked together would give the party strategists insight into countering Kejriwal’s campaign more effectively – pinning Kejriwal in his own way.

BJP’s para-dropping of Kiran Bedi just 22 days before the polls in front of an established player who was enjoying consistently higher popularity ratings with virtually no opposition on the scale. Kiran Bedi did not have the time even to re-compose herself, let alone the basic essentials like reading the politics of Delhi in the context of an AAP Vs BJP contest, speaking the political language and thus making moves accordingly. Instead, she kept on speaking like a police officer, narrowed down by her administrative experience and remaining confined to that when the need was to widen politically, when the canvas was not the certain defined realms of a professional obligation but an undefined, political landscape open to the dynamic changes as the campaigning progressed. That could have worked for an activist but certainly not for a politician.

BJP’s central leadership hijacked the campaign totally, dispelling the local leadership. Now, these bombarded ministers, MPs and workers from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh (to target the voters with Eastern UP and Bihar roots) and leaders from other states are strangers for the local voters. And when the local line of connect, the field worker in the assembly constituencies, starts acting disenchanted, the exercise becomes counterproductive wiping out in the process any advantage that it could have accrued. And we have good enough number of reports talking about the disconnect of the dissatisfied field workers of BJP. Clearly, they are adding to the negativity on BJP’s chances adding thus to the prospects of AAP and Arvind Kejriwal as evident by the two pre-poll projections today that gave (ABP-Nielsen and HT-C Voter) AAP clear majority averaging around 40 seats.

BJP resorted to a negative campaign. It had fought the Lok Sabha election on development plank with a campaign that was largely positive. The ad with Anna Hazare’s photo or the ad with ‘upadravi gotra’ were unnecessary given the fact that there is no anti-incumbency against AAP’s government. Like Narendra Modi was central target of the opponents in the Lok Sabha polls that helped him ultimately, increasing his visibility when others failed to declare a credible name against him. But the party failed to realize it here and did the same thing with Arvind Kejriwal. Arvind Kejriwal is the target of his political opponents and he is the only credible CM face so far with Kiran Bedi’s dull show so far and there are no days left for Kiran Bedi to spring a surprise.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

KIRAN BEDI AS BJP’S FACE IN DELHI: IT MAY WORK FOR BJP – IT MAY BACKFIRE AS WELL

BJP is trying to address the twin issues of middle class concerns and youth preferences by inducting Kiran Bedi, a former IPS officer who also happens to be India’s first woman IPS officer, a social activist running two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and a former colleague of Arvind Kejriwal in ‘India Against Corruption’, an outfit that was formed by coming together of civil society activists to launch the anti-corruption movement of 2011.

And it is based on perceptions built around her, based on the mix of her career so far. We are yet to have any projection or assessment of Kiran Bedi’s credentials in terms of pre-poll or leadership choice surveys.

Perceivably, Kiran Bedi has a middle class and youth connect based on her background, her career as a police officer and her social activism engagements. She was one of the prominent faces of the 2011 anti-corruption movement.

She is known as someone who even took on a prime minister when Indira Gandhi’s vehicle violated traffic rules. She had an image of a tough and honest cop. She has been active in social sphere with her NGOs. From Amritsar to Delhi, she took on the might of men in a patriarchal society and became India’s first woman IPS officer. Thereafter, she made a successful career, though it had its share of controversies, but certainly, on mass appeal, the positives carried more wait.

Like, as it is seen, followers of the honest of the lot are victimized by the System, Bedi too alleged victimization and took retirement in 2007 before her time after she was bypassed and a junior officer Y. S. Dadwal was appointed Delhi Police Commissioner.

A life with developments that appeal to the middle class and to the youngsters!

Add to it the element that Bedi’s victimization came when there were Congress governments, both at Centre and in Delhi.

The added benefit is, being a women candidate – BJP will look to further mobilize the women voters to its fold – building on Narendra Modi’s popularity with women voters.

With Kiran Bedi, BJP strategists would be hoping to appeal to these three votebanks – middle class, youth and women.

The only catch is – Kiran Bedi’s elevation is based on perceptions around her with almost no time and no exercises to taste how these perceptions play out in the electoral arena. She was made the commander of the final stage of the battle when elections were already announced and were just 22 days away.

It may work for BJP – or it may backfire.

After all, her criticism of Arvind Kejriwal on joining politics, her criticism of Narendra Modi and BJP in past, then her new-found love for BJP and her steadfast appreciation of Narendra Modi coupled with controversies like allegation of producing inflated airfares and allegations of subversion of rules in allocating medical seat to her daughter are the issues perceived negatively by many from the middle class and young age-groups, male or female – especially the educated of the lot.

A BJP majority in the Delhi Assembly Election 2015 would depend on how such voters assess Bedi’s prospects – based on her present and past.

Watch out for February 10, the counting day.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey–https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/