Former IPS officer Kiran Bedi has been named as BJP’s chief ministerial candidate for the Delhi Assembly polls scheduled for 7 February. What impact will this announcement have on the polls?
“BJP needed a pinch hitter for the last few overs and score the winning runs. They needed somebody to give them an impetus. Whether Kiran Bedi provides that or not, remains to be seen, ” said Ayaz Memon on the special #IndiaHangOut 2015 Delhi Elections Tracker.
According to opinion polls from October 2014, which asked respondents which party they would have voted for had Kiran Bedi been the CM candidate for BJP, 51% of the people went with BJP. AAP, with Arvind Kejriwal as the CM candidate, only got 36% of the votes.
“In the last two year years, in every poll, Kiran Bedi always scores over Arvind Kejriwal, as far as the popularity ratings are concerned. Kiran Bedi joinging the BJP may be a positive or not. Many of Kiran Bedi fans may or may not be BJP fans,” said Yashwant Deshmukh, Managing Director and Editor of the CVoter Foundation.
Another poll from May 2014, which asked respondents who they’d like to see as the CM of Delhi, had 38% of votes in favour of Kiran Bedi as compared to 34% for Arvind Kejriwal.
“Kiran Bedi’s support base back in May last year was across all party affiliations. Now, as the CM candidate for BJP, she may even enjoy the popularity ratings that Dr. Harsh Vardhan had. But she may lose some votes to Kejriwal now. That remains to be seen. By and large, Kiran Bedi has always been more popular than Arvind Kejriwal in Delhi,” Deshmukh explained.
Memon raised an interesting question if Bedi’s move to BJP had gone down well with the hard-core traditional BJP support base. To this, Deshmukh replied “It is a foregone conclusion that the BJP voters will support Kiran Bedi. They were always open to this. There is a possibility of Bedi getting the majority,”
The fence-sitter votes have been so far been swinging between BJP and AAP. “If the BJP did not have a clear-cut CM candidate, a section of the middle class vote, which is the swing vote, would have gone in the favour of AAP. The factor of Narendra Modi was a good base but they needed a winning tip, either Dr. Harsh Vardhan or Kiran Bedi,” Deshmukh added.
Commenting upon the effect of Kiran Bedi’s decision to the current scenario in Delhi, Deshmukh said, “In all our polls, the vote share of AAP had only been rising till now. They had become the leading party in Delhi. But, it’s too early to make a call right now. It’s too early to even write-off Congress at this point. They also have a decent core base, in terms of Dalits and minorities. But if Congress gets a credible base, they may still be in the race. Between the tussle of Narendra Modi and Arvind Kejriwal, the Kiran Bedi factor has brought in an all together different dimension. Kiran Bedi does not need BJP. It’s the BJP that needs Kiran Bedi.”
The latest CVoter Poll from December 2014 asked a sample size of people who they would prefer between Kejriwal and Bedi as the CM of Delhi. 53% of votes went Bedi’s way while 43% of the people voted for Kejriwal.
“This was in December, when the AAP campaign had really taken off and Kiran Bedi was nowhere in the picture for joining politics. It will be interesting to see what the numbers say after her decision to join the BJP. She may create a positive gender gap for the BJP. According to current trends, she is getting more support from the females as compared to males,” Deshmikh said.