The die is cast for the first electoral battle in the new year with the Election Commission announcing the Delhi Assembly poll schedule. As with all elections there these days, a no-holds barred contest is expected between the AAP, BJP and Congress for the control of a government that is described by many as only a “glorified municipality”. This is because Delhi does not enjoy the status of a full-fledged state and the elected government has limited powers.
The Delhi government has no control over law and order, which comes under the Union Home Ministry, and also over land, which belongs to the Union Urban Development Ministry. The city also sends only seven members to the Lok Sabha. Yet the battle is set to be bitter with all the parties expected to go all guns blazing. This is because of the prestige involved with the control of the Delhi government. Being the national capital, the city is home to the political power centre, the Supreme Court, the art and cultural canvas, top central educational institutions and even the national media. With such a disproportionate concentration of institutions in Delhi, the stakes are high.
Unlike the BJP and Congress, the AAP has an undisputed leader in CM Arvind Kejriwal. This will serve the AAP well in the elections, but will certainly not tilt the scales in its favour. There are likely to be two factors that will decide the fate of the elections. The first is the voter behaviour that distinguishes between Central and state elections. In the Lok Sabha polls in 2014 in Delhi, the BJP won all seven seats with 46.4% of the vote share. That translated into 60 of the 70 Assembly seats.
But less than 10 months later in February 2015, the AAP won a staggering 67 seats with 54.3% votes. If this pattern repeats itself, it will be trouble for the BJP. The second deciding factor will be the performance of the Congress. Whenever it does well, the AAP suffers as they share the same vote bank. May the best party win, whatever the clinching factors.