Clear outcomes have been predicted in only 56 constituencies of the 70 seats in the Delhi Assembly. The remaining 14 seats hold the key to power. The present projection gives 23 seats to AAP, 27 to BJP and six seats to the Congress, clearly indicating that the battle of all battles is mainly between the AAP and BJP. The 14 seats are Mangolpuri, Sultanpur Majra, Tri Nagar, Shakur Basti, Wazirpur, Chandni Chowk, Kasturba Nagar, Kalkaji, Gandhi Nagar, Mustafabad, Sadar Bazaar, Uttam Nagar, Najafgarh and Greater Kailash.
Of these 14 faultlines, where close contests are predicted, AAP and BJP won five each in 2013. The Congress holds four. If all three parties retain the status quo, an AAP government in alliance with the Congress is a distinct possibility.
If the BJP wants to checkmate AAP, it will have to better its previous tally by winning eight of the 14 seats. An insider said the electoral battle is not just between parties but also personalities: BJP’s CM candidate Kiran Bedi versus Arvind Kejriwal, since both are products of Anna’s anti-corruption movement, which later gave birth to the AAP and catapulted Kejriwal to power in 2013. Although, Bedi has been able to withstand Kejriwal’s assault so far, it is yet to be seen if she can checkmate a resurgent AAP in these 14 crucial seats.
One among the prominent faces of the battle for the final 14, AAP’s Rakhi Birla is pitted against Congress’s Rajkumar Chauhan in Mangolpuri reserved constituency. In 2013, she had defeated her nearest rival Chauhan by a huge margin of over 10,000 votes of 1,65,962 voters. Birla may, however, have lost her sheen in the 2014 Modi wave, say AAP volunteers.
New Candidates, Old Issues
Sadar Bazaar locals are miffed about the tardy progress in resolving local issues. Even, BJP’s Praveen Jain is raising these issues, showing the performance of the eight-month-old Modi’s government as a contrast. But, the Congress, which won three terms before losing the seat to AAP in 2013 is hoping to regain the confidence of Muslims who voted AAP in 2013.
Another interesting contest between AAP and Congress is unfolding in the high profile Greater Kailash constituency where Sharmistha Mukherjee, President Pranab Mukherjee’s daughter, is pitted against former AAP minister Saurabh Bhardwaj. Bhardwaj had cornered 45.26 per cent of the total votes polled in 2013, defeating his nearest rival Ajay Kumar Malhotra of the BJP by 10,291 votes. The BJP seems to have decided to give a walkover to Sharmishta by fielding lightweight Rakesh Gullaiya, who even party workers say is bound to lose. Gullaiya had even lost the corporation elections.
Although the issues of the BRT logjam, parking problems, water-logging and mushrooming of illegal commercial activities remain deciding political factors, the BJP’s strategy has turned Greater Kailash into a straight battle between AAP and Congress. Locals say Bhardwaj has delivered to some extent and the image advantage, but novice Sharmistha has managed to establish a connect with the upper middle class and educated voters of the constituency with her door-to-door campaign.
From Shakur Basti, Satyendra Kumar Jain, the former health minister in the 49-day-old AAP government, had won comfortably by over 14,000 votes. However, this margin may reduce because of resentment over local party disconnect.