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Trends point to a hung assembly
Delhi goes to poll on 4 December with the biggest dilemma in the minds of its voters Ė whom to vote for and why?

The questions: Is it right to vote out a government (Congress led by Sheila Dikshit) which has performed for 15 years by developing the capital’s infrastructure? Is it wise to vote in a political novice like Kejriwal whose only plank is to free the system of corruption? Can the BJP perform with its numerous internal contradictions, particularly in leadership?

Delhi, unlike other cities, is not entirely governed by local issues. Since it’s India’s capital and contains a huge literate population and an army of aspiring youth, there is a definite overlap of local and national issues. This time around, it’s the Commonwealth Games scam, where a sacrificial goat was offered by the Congress in Suresh Kalmadi.  Though the issue is old, it has been kept fresh by a nondescript  social activist Anna Hazare who caught international headlines with  his Gandhian type fast in the heart of Delhi.

Supporting him were legal luminaries such as Prashant Bhushan and a former civil servant, Arvind Kejriwal, both of whom now challenge the 15 year rule of Congress through their anti corruption campaign – paradoxically their election symbol for the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is a broom stick which actually becomes a powerful metaphor for sweeping the system of corruption.


The dilemma persists

The dilemma is essentially for the middle class, often accused of showing voter apathy, by not turning up at the polling booths. The richer class has not seen polling booths; they always got their work done by money power by using a system that was politically and morally degenerate. The 3rd types of voters are the poor, migrant labour who have always stayed loyal to the Congress. The dilemma persists because the Congress led by an affable Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has managed to cater to all the three classes of voters. Dikshit struck the right balance between performance and publicity.

More than corruption, inflation is a big issue in the Delhi elections with food prices galloping. No vegetable or grocery item is available for less than Rs 50 a kg. The basics tomato, onion and potatoes, have seen an unprecedented rise in prices making it difficult for the common man to balance his family budget.

This is going to be a decisive factor in the elections which will work along with the anti incumbency factor. And for this Sheila Dikshit , who gave world class Metro Rail, City Transport, Piped Gas and Super Highways and Flyovers to make travel easier besides cracking down on pollution making air breathable in the city, will pay for the sins of her political bosses at the Centre who failed to control food inflation. TV networks have gone to town with their campaign against inflation which will help the AAP.

Nothing grows in Delhi, it’s an urban conglomerate. Everything is imported. That’s the tragedy.

 

A triangular fight

For the first time it’s a triangular fight at the capital. Three scenarios emerge: a dull voting percentage of 50 per cent will bring back the Congress to power for a fourth time. Any poll percentage of over 65 to 70 per cent poses challenges, with the AAP and the BJP benefitting. The principal gainer of anti-incumbency is AAP, not the BJP. AAP, campaigning door to door, has stayed focussed on the middle class besides drawing support from poor. BJP’s vote bank is the middle class and the trading class which stand threatened by the AAP.

Another factor in the elections is the BSP which is taking on the Congress upfront. It is contesting for all 70 seats, and it will have the sympathy of the migrant population comprising dalits and labour class from UP and Bihar, a traditional vote bank of the Congress. If AAP will cut into BJP’s vote bank of the middle class, BSP will cut into the vote banks of the Congress.

The picture is right now very fuzzy. No party is said to achieve majority. But the seats are going to be cornered by all the three parties in an equal measure, which means a hung assembly. In any event, Arvind Kejriwal will be the kingmaker. A good possibility is that a hung assembly leads to a rule by the Lt Governor and elections again along with the general elections in May 2014. A colossal waste of tax payers’ money.

 

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