With Aam Aadmi Party leader Arvind Kejriwal showing great determination in taking his indefinite fast against malpractices in the power sector towards the third week, both the ruling Congress and the Opposition BJP have started getting jittery about how his growing popularity and clout would impact the outcome of the Delhi Assembly elections due later this year.
Leaders in both these parties are split on their verdict on how the AAP would fare in the polls and whose vote would it ultimately eat into. “Many people have approached me and said that if the Congress did not field a candidate of their choice, they would definitely vote for Kejriwal’s party,” said a senior Delhi Congress leader. He said he found it hard to believe what he was being told as all these people were hard core Congress supporters from the Jat community. “We can not afford to be complacent now. The rising popularity of AAP can harm us. While some believe that AAP would ultimately end up benefiting the Congress as it would divide the anti-incumbency vote, it should be remembered that a negative vote always harms the ruling dispensation more than the others,” the Congress leader said.
AAP to eat into
A senior Congress legislator, however, felt that AAP would only harm the interest of the BJP as, if at all, it would only get those middle class votes which would drift away from the Congress due to price rise, power or water issues. “The Congress would retain its core jhuggi and unauthorised colony votes while the BJP would also retain its dedicated votes. In the last Assembly elections the difference in the votes of the two parties was just about 3.5 per cent. So if AAP were to take even 2 per cent votes, it would actually be beneficial for the Congress, which would be seeking a record fourth term in the Assembly,” he said.
The fear is shared by a former Delhi BJP president who said the party should do more to appeal to the voters. “We had been raising the power issue for the past many year, but we failed to make the kind of impact that Kejriwal is making among the students, youth, middle class and even the poor. It is time that the BJP devised a strategy to counter his growing clout.”
For his part, Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel is confident that the voters disgruntled with the three terms of the Congress rule would ultimately vote for the BJP as they believe it provides the right alternative. “People also know that we had been raising the issue of corruption in power since the time of privatisation,” he said.