With the BJP announcing Kiran Bedi as their candidate for the chief Minister’s position last week, has Arvind Kejrial lost ground? What do the latest opinion polls reflect?
“The announcement of Kiran Bedi as the CM candidate has certainly given a sharper edge to BJP’s campaign. People identify with her. But, in terms of voter attraction, I feel Kiran Bedi appeals to a section of voters which is already with the BJP. I am not sure if she brings new voters to the BJP party,” said Arati Jerath, political commentator.
“Arati’s qualitative observations on the ground match the empirical data that we have been getting. The lower income groups, Dalits and minorities are in favour of AAP while the middle-class is with the BJP. But in the last three months, sections of the middle-class were on shaky ground, primarily because of the lack of leadership from the BJP.” Yashwant Deshmukh, the Managing director and Editor of CVoter Foundation, said.
“What Kiran Bedi brings to the table is the galvanization of the BJP core vote,” he added.
Jerath was of the opinion that it was too early to make a call about which way the Delhi vote was swinging. “This election is still very open. Everything hinges on the next two weeks of campaigning. The BJP has only just announced their list of candidates. There have been a lot of protests within BJP over candidate selection, with unknown faces being given tickets. That has created a lot of resentment. An opinion poll may not be able to map or track what’s happening on ground, as far as the BJP worker is concerned,” she said.
The latest opinion polls on seat share projection, conducted by CVoter Foundation over the last three weeks with a sample size of 2,520 people in Delhi, show a positive swing of 6 seats for the BJP as compared to the Vidhan Sabha Elections in December 2013.
The Cvoter Foundation polls asked the respondents their preference for the CM with respect to three key issues: development on Delhi, safety of women and corruption.
“In this election, issues have really gone out of the window, unlike the 2013 elections, where issues were at the forefront. Personalities have come to dominate. The only thing people are talking about is Kejriwal vs. Bedi,” Jearth said.
But, based on the CVoter polls, Deshmukh had a different opinion. “In our weekly tracking poll since 2013, we noticed that these are the issues have come out as the main issues that people are focusing on.”
“On the issue of corruption, Kejriwal has scored relatively better as compared to the other two. But when it comes to women’s safety, there is a substantial gap between people’s preference for the Chief Minister. Males and females, they are both biased towards Kiran Bedi on this issue. The gender gap is working in BJP’s favour because of Kiran Bedi.” Deshmukh explained.
Arati Jerath disagreed with this projection, saying that women in Delhi are quite cynical when it comes to the issue of safety. “The issue of safety is very critical in Delhi. For 15 years, Delhi had a female CM, but when the brutal gang rape happened, she was nowhere to be seen. So, I don’t think she enjoys any advantage just because she is a woman,” she said.
The opinion polls also asked people their most preferred candidate overall for the position of the Chief Minister. Kiran Bedi received 49% of the votes, Kejriwal 42 while Congress’ entrant, Ajay Maken, got 8%.
“Kiran Bedi is not crossing the BJP core vote of 45%. There was a point, where there was a deficit in the leadership rating and the number of votes for the BJP. Now, the BJP support base and leadership ratings are in sync,” Deshmukh concluded.