‘Anarchist’ Arvind Kejriwal has pulled a coup right under the nose of powerful Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Many had called the AAP chief an opportunist and over ambitious when he fought against Modi in Varanasi in the Lok Sabha elections. The drubbing in the LS polls, perhaps, was a wake up call. Kejriwal went into a huddle and regrouped his cadre like a wounded general waiting to pounce back.
Conscious of the ‘bhagora tag’ after he quit as CM the last time when AAP had formed the government with outside support from the Congress, the task for Kejriwal was even the more Herculean.
Buoyed by a massive victory in the General Elections which established Modi as a ‘decisive leader’, the Centre went for the jugular. It decided to hold elections in Delhi ending months of uncertainty. BJP’s victory was thought to be a forgone conclusion. With back-to-back wins in Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Haryana, the Modi wave was decimating its opponents and a BJP surge became a fad, and Modi a cult figure. But what followed was a series of miscalculations and setbacks.
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With no leader in Delhi under its stable to prop up against Kejriwal, Kiran Bedi’s projection left few heart burns in the BJP state unit. Dr Harsh Vardhan, who had led the BJP campaign in the last Assembly elections and the party returned with a figure of 32, was ignored. Buzz is that Union minister Arun Jaitley and BJP chief Amit Shah had decided on Bedi to take on Kejriwal.
But the Delhi battle became a prestige issue for Modi. The party unleashed its entire machinery and cadre. Dozens of Central ministers campaigned in Delhi. Kejriwal was, of course, the target and these were often personal. Pre-poll surveys gave AAP an absolute majority. Reality finally sunk into the BJP rank and file. The realisation was that AAP has gained ground after the LS debacle. A nervous BJP flung its master card – Modi.
The PM held four rallies. Modi also launched a personal attack against Kejriwal. He also trashed the opinion polls. Don’t believe the ‘bazzaru’ opinion polls, he told voters – a sign of arrogance, perhaps. This is this sense of invincibility of the BJP and the thought that Modi wave won’t wane that Kejriwal challenged. The victor and the LS poll victory were no more a sacrosanct idea. And Kejriwal proved it in Delhi polls.