With some poll surveys indicating advantage for the AAP, a nervous BJP’s central leadership has thrown its full weight behind the Delhi elections.
While External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and HRD Minister Smriti Irani addressed three rallies each on Wednesday, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar held a public meeting in Southwest Delhi. On Thursday, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, Rao Inderjeet Singh and Navjot Singh Sidhu will join the campaign.
Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Commerce Minister Nirmala Sitharaman and Chemicals and Fertiliser Minister Ananth Kumar have been making rounds of Delhi BJP office for the last couple of days. Sitharaman spent the entire day in the BJP office on Pandit Pant Marg. She, however, said the BJP takes all elections seriously. “BJP’s strategy has always been like this. We do not take any election lightly,” she said.
“It has become a prestige election for the party and president Amit Shah. So he is micro managing the campaign,” a BJP leader said. At a meeting with senior party leaders and ministers, Shah has asked them to ensure that party workers visit each household at least four times.
BJP leaders calculate that a highly “polarised” election between the AAP and itself would favour the former. “For the first time we want the Congress to be stronger,” a party leader said. A source indicated that the BJP would go to the extent of supporting Congress candidates in a few seats to cut the AAP tally.
The party feels that three developments — the middle class returning to the BJP, the AAP losing the “ripples” it created in 2013 and a section of Sikh votes coming back to the party — will work in its favour. “The announcement of Kiran Bedi has turned the faceless campaign into one with more effect. Pitching her has made this election a ‘government vs anarchy’ battle,” the leader said.
Though party leaders have downplayed a survey conducted by ABP News-Nielsen which suggested the AAP would bag 50 per cent votes, BJP 41 per cent and the Congress nine, they admitted that BJP will not take any chance. “This was an unscientific survey. If AAP wins 50 per cent votes, its tally will be more than 60. In Delhi, ‘others’ always take away some votes.”