Delhi Elections 2020: Will AAP’s Kejriwal Complete A Hat-Trick?

Elections to the 70-member Delhi Assembly will be held on 8 February 2020 and counting will be on 11th.

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Who will Delhi elect as its CM in 2020?
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Snapshot

Come February, 1.43 crore voters in Delhi will decide who their next chief minister will be. According to the Election Commission, polls to all 70 seats in the Delhi Assembly will be held on 8 February, followed by counting of votes on 11 February.

But despite its small size and a government with limited powers, why is Delhi such a prestige battle for political parties? Before we get to that, let’s understand whose prestige is at stake.

Delhi Elections 2020: Will AAP’s Kejriwal Complete A Hat-Trick?

  1. 1. Who Are the Players?

    Elections to Delhi Assembly have largely been a two-cornered fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress. While the BJP formed the first government under the leadership of Madan Lal Khurana in 1993, it was the Congress’ Sheila Dikshit who became chief minister – first in 1998 – and remained in power for the next two terms in 2003 and 2008.

    Only the AAP has a clear CM Face.
    Only the AAP has a clear CM Face.
    (Photo: Erum Gour/The Quint)

    However, the UT’s political landscape underwent a massive change in 2013, with the advent of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, popularly known as AAP. After a brief stint of 49 days in 2013, Kejriwal’s AAP returned to power in the 2015 Assembly elections and has been in power since.

    In 2020, Delhi is again headed for a thee-party contest, but only one party seems to have a chief ministerial face – the AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal.

    The BJP’s Delhi unit headed by MP Manoj Tiwari has apparently “decided to go into the elections without naming any prospective CM candidate,” a well-placed source told The Quint.

    The Congress, however, faces a leadership vacuum in Delhi, in the absence of three-time chief minister, the late Sheila Dikshit – a first in nearly 20 years. It has recently named Subhash Chopra as the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee President, whose popularity is nowhere compared to the late Dikshit.

    Expand
  2. 2. Authorising the Unauthorised : 40 Lakh Residents Await Ownership Rights

    In Delhi, elections are often held on civic issues such as housing, access to clean drinking water, affordable healthcare and electricity. Out of these factors, it’s the demand for regularisation of unauthorised colonies (UACs) that has emerged as a key electoral flashpoint.

    Housing over 40 lakh people, Delhi has about 1,700 colonies that have been built on restricted, non-residential land, in contravention of local by-laws.

    Residents of these colonies have been demanding regularisation since 2008, since they do not enjoy complete ownership rights and often miss out on developmental work carried out by the government.

    Unauthorised colonies are a major poll issue in Delhi.
    Unauthorised colonies are a major poll issue in Delhi.
    (Erum Gour/The Quint)

    In December 2019, the BJP-led central government passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill, 2019. The Bill aims to provide ownership rights to 1,731 UACs following online registration and subsequent verification of documents.

    The BJP’s Delhi unit hopes to cash in on this decision and has been organising outreach programmes across UACs in the city. The AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal, on the other hand, has called the BJP’s decision a ‘blatant lie’.

    Expand
  3. 3. Kejriwal's Paradigm Shift

    Prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal had sought to take on a national role and had emerged as one of the fiercest critics of the Modi government. However, following the party’s 2019 defeat in all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, Kejriwal had adopted a rather softer stance on PM Modi.

    Instead of going all out on PM Modi and his BJP-led government, Kejriwal saw wisdom in focusing on welfare policies and outreach programmes. From Mohalla clinics to free bus rides for women to slashed electricity bills to reforming Delhi’s schools, the government has been going to town to make voters aware of the work done under its regime.

    AAP’s long list of welfare policies may help it in 2020.
    AAP’s long list of welfare policies may help it in 2020.
    (Erum Gour/The Quint)

    However, the AAP faces questions over its ability to provide clean drinking water to residents, following a BIS report that ranked Delhi’s tap water as one of the worst in the country.

    In a bid to allay concerns, CM Kejriwal surprised onlookers as he gulped down a glass of water sourced from a tap, during a recent public address in Delhi.

    Although the Kejriwal-led government has rubbished claims made in the report and has called it a politically-motivated move, the BJP has left no stone unturned in attacking the AAP over water quality in the capital.

    Expand
  4. 4. Enter Shah on Shaheen Bagh

    For a long time, it appeared that the election was primarily being fought between the AAP and the BJP, solely on the former’s claim of good governance.

    However, in the middle of the campaign, Home Minister Amit Shah asked voters in Delhi’s Babarpur to “Press the voting button with such anger that the current can be felt in Shaheen Bagh”.

    Shah was referring to the locality in South-East Delhi, where hundreds of Muslim women, some in their 70s and 80s, have been peacefully protesting against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, since mid December.

    • This was followed by BJP MP Parvesh Verma’s remark that protesters at Shaheen Bagh may “enter your house… abduct your sisters and mothers, rape them, kill them the way militants had treated Kashmiri Pandits”.
    • Verma’s parliamentary colleague and MoS Defence Anurag Thakur went a step forward and chanted Desh Ke Gaddaro Ko at a rally. The crowd replied with “Goli Maaro **** ko.”
    • Both these comments were made on 27 January, just a day after Shah’s controversial remark. In this way, the BJP not only targeted Shaheen Bagh, but also claimed it was the vote bank of Kejriwal.
    • Days later, on 30 January, a minor opened fire at Jamia Millia Islamia, injuring a student protester in the hand, while reportedly shouting “le lo Azadi (Go, take the freedom you want).
    • Another gunman opened fire at Shaheen Bagh on 1 February and chanted pro-Hindutva slogans.

    Corned by the BJP from all sides on Shaheen Bagh and mindful of its impact on his party’s performance, Kejriwal was forced to respond to the BJP on Shaheen Bagh. “Why are they not ending the protest – can a home minister as powerful as Amit Shah not get a road vacated? They are trying to polarise the voters ” he told Hindustan Times, claiming that the BJP was only looking to benefit from the blockade.

    In a matter of weeks, Delhi’s election campaign was reduced from one being fought on civic issues and development to the ongoing protest at Shaheen Bagh.

    Expand
  5. 5. The Seat Break-Up

    The Delhi Assembly has 70 seats, which means the Union Territory is divided into 70 constituencies, each of which elect one representative to the Assembly. In order to form a government, a party or a group of parties (pre/post-poll coalition) must secure a majority of 36 seats.

    In the first Assembly election of 1993, the BJP had won handsomely with 49 seats, while the Congress won only 14. However, in 1998 the Congress’s Sheila Dikshit bagged 52 seats, while the BJP finished second at 17. Dikshit managed to retain power for two successive terms – although with an increasingly diminishing margin – winning 47 seats in 2003 and then 42 in 2008.

    Back then, the BJP was considered a party of Baniyas and upper-caste Hindus, while the Congress was considered a party supported Purvanchalis (Delhi residents native to Eastern UP and parts of Bihar), Dalits and Muslims. But the entry of AAP in 2013 tilted the Purvanchali votes in favour of Kejriwal’s Party.

    According to an India Today article, Purvanchalis, if they vote similarly, can impact results in at least 25 seats, while Punjabis can turn the fortunes of a party in 25-30 seats.

    Delhi’s poll arithmetic.
    Delhi’s poll arithmetic.
    (Erum Gour/The Quint)

    The question is who will the Purvanchalis vote for this time? The AAP or the BJP, headed in Delhi, by Bhojpuri singer-turned-politician Manoj Tiwari? Similarly, will the Punjabis vote for the BJP or will they shift to the AAP?

    Finally, who will Delhi’s Muslims vote for? Muslims, who make up 10-12% of voters, have traditionally voted for the Congress but moved en masse to AAP in 2015 only to return to the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

    However, CM Kejriwal’s lack of open support and the Congress’ all-out attack on the BJP over the Citizenship Amendment Act may well swing Muslim votes in favour of the grand old party.

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    Expand

Who Are the Players?

Elections to Delhi Assembly have largely been a two-cornered fight between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Indian National Congress. While the BJP formed the first government under the leadership of Madan Lal Khurana in 1993, it was the Congress’ Sheila Dikshit who became chief minister – first in 1998 – and remained in power for the next two terms in 2003 and 2008.

Only the AAP has a clear CM Face.
Only the AAP has a clear CM Face.
(Photo: Erum Gour/The Quint)

However, the UT’s political landscape underwent a massive change in 2013, with the advent of Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party, popularly known as AAP. After a brief stint of 49 days in 2013, Kejriwal’s AAP returned to power in the 2015 Assembly elections and has been in power since.

In 2020, Delhi is again headed for a thee-party contest, but only one party seems to have a chief ministerial face – the AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal.

The BJP’s Delhi unit headed by MP Manoj Tiwari has apparently “decided to go into the elections without naming any prospective CM candidate,” a well-placed source told The Quint.

The Congress, however, faces a leadership vacuum in Delhi, in the absence of three-time chief minister, the late Sheila Dikshit – a first in nearly 20 years. It has recently named Subhash Chopra as the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee President, whose popularity is nowhere compared to the late Dikshit.

Authorising the Unauthorised : 40 Lakh Residents Await Ownership Rights

In Delhi, elections are often held on civic issues such as housing, access to clean drinking water, affordable healthcare and electricity. Out of these factors, it’s the demand for regularisation of unauthorised colonies (UACs) that has emerged as a key electoral flashpoint.

Housing over 40 lakh people, Delhi has about 1,700 colonies that have been built on restricted, non-residential land, in contravention of local by-laws.

Residents of these colonies have been demanding regularisation since 2008, since they do not enjoy complete ownership rights and often miss out on developmental work carried out by the government.

Unauthorised colonies are a major poll issue in Delhi.
Unauthorised colonies are a major poll issue in Delhi.
(Erum Gour/The Quint)

In December 2019, the BJP-led central government passed the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Bill, 2019. The Bill aims to provide ownership rights to 1,731 UACs following online registration and subsequent verification of documents.

The BJP’s Delhi unit hopes to cash in on this decision and has been organising outreach programmes across UACs in the city. The AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal, on the other hand, has called the BJP’s decision a ‘blatant lie’.

Kejriwal's Paradigm Shift

Prior to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, AAP’s Arvind Kejriwal had sought to take on a national role and had emerged as one of the fiercest critics of the Modi government. However, following the party’s 2019 defeat in all seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi, Kejriwal had adopted a rather softer stance on PM Modi.

Instead of going all out on PM Modi and his BJP-led government, Kejriwal saw wisdom in focusing on welfare policies and outreach programmes. From Mohalla clinics to free bus rides for women to slashed electricity bills to reforming Delhi’s schools, the government has been going to town to make voters aware of the work done under its regime.

AAP’s long list of welfare policies may help it in 2020.
AAP’s long list of welfare policies may help it in 2020.
(Erum Gour/The Quint)

However, the AAP faces questions over its ability to provide clean drinking water to residents, following a BIS report that ranked Delhi’s tap water as one of the worst in the country.

In a bid to allay concerns, CM Kejriwal surprised onlookers as he gulped down a glass of water sourced from a tap, during a recent public address in Delhi.

Although the Kejriwal-led government has rubbished claims made in the report and has called it a politically-motivated move, the BJP has left no stone unturned in attacking the AAP over water quality in the capital.

Enter Shah on Shaheen Bagh

For a long time, it appeared that the election was primarily being fought between the AAP and the BJP, solely on the former’s claim of good governance.

However, in the middle of the campaign, Home Minister Amit Shah asked voters in Delhi’s Babarpur to “Press the voting button with such anger that the current can be felt in Shaheen Bagh”.

Shah was referring to the locality in South-East Delhi, where hundreds of Muslim women, some in their 70s and 80s, have been peacefully protesting against the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act, since mid December.

  • This was followed by BJP MP Parvesh Verma’s remark that protesters at Shaheen Bagh may “enter your house… abduct your sisters and mothers, rape them, kill them the way militants had treated Kashmiri Pandits”.
  • Verma’s parliamentary colleague and MoS Defence Anurag Thakur went a step forward and chanted Desh Ke Gaddaro Ko at a rally. The crowd replied with “Goli Maaro **** ko.”
  • Both these comments were made on 27 January, just a day after Shah’s controversial remark. In this way, the BJP not only targeted Shaheen Bagh, but also claimed it was the vote bank of Kejriwal.
  • Days later, on 30 January, a minor opened fire at Jamia Millia Islamia, injuring a student protester in the hand, while reportedly shouting “le lo Azadi (Go, take the freedom you want).
  • Another gunman opened fire at Shaheen Bagh on 1 February and chanted pro-Hindutva slogans.

Corned by the BJP from all sides on Shaheen Bagh and mindful of its impact on his party’s performance, Kejriwal was forced to respond to the BJP on Shaheen Bagh. “Why are they not ending the protest – can a home minister as powerful as Amit Shah not get a road vacated? They are trying to polarise the voters ” he told Hindustan Times, claiming that the BJP was only looking to benefit from the blockade.

In a matter of weeks, Delhi’s election campaign was reduced from one being fought on civic issues and development to the ongoing protest at Shaheen Bagh.

The Seat Break-Up

The Delhi Assembly has 70 seats, which means the Union Territory is divided into 70 constituencies, each of which elect one representative to the Assembly. In order to form a government, a party or a group of parties (pre/post-poll coalition) must secure a majority of 36 seats.

In the first Assembly election of 1993, the BJP had won handsomely with 49 seats, while the Congress won only 14. However, in 1998 the Congress’s Sheila Dikshit bagged 52 seats, while the BJP finished second at 17. Dikshit managed to retain power for two successive terms – although with an increasingly diminishing margin – winning 47 seats in 2003 and then 42 in 2008.

Back then, the BJP was considered a party of Baniyas and upper-caste Hindus, while the Congress was considered a party supported Purvanchalis (Delhi residents native to Eastern UP and parts of Bihar), Dalits and Muslims. But the entry of AAP in 2013 tilted the Purvanchali votes in favour of Kejriwal’s Party.

According to an India Today article, Purvanchalis, if they vote similarly, can impact results in at least 25 seats, while Punjabis can turn the fortunes of a party in 25-30 seats.

Delhi’s poll arithmetic.
Delhi’s poll arithmetic.
(Erum Gour/The Quint)

The question is who will the Purvanchalis vote for this time? The AAP or the BJP, headed in Delhi, by Bhojpuri singer-turned-politician Manoj Tiwari? Similarly, will the Punjabis vote for the BJP or will they shift to the AAP?

Finally, who will Delhi’s Muslims vote for? Muslims, who make up 10-12% of voters, have traditionally voted for the Congress but moved en masse to AAP in 2015 only to return to the Congress in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

However, CM Kejriwal’s lack of open support and the Congress’ all-out attack on the BJP over the Citizenship Amendment Act may well swing Muslim votes in favour of the grand old party.

Liked this story? We'll send you more. Subscribe to The Quint's newsletter and get selected stories delivered to your inbox every day. Click to get started.

The Quint is available on Telegram & WhatsApp too, click to join.

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