The recent opinion polls seem to indicate that the contest in Delhi has become a bipolar race between the BJP and AAP, with the Congress crashing out. What does this mean for Congress and what can they do in the current situation?
Congress national spokesperson Sanjay Jha admitted that they had slipped in the last elections. “We do hope that people have seen through the two alternatives of the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), who chickened away from a contest. ‘Acche Din’ are far from a reality. The economy has not moved ahead at all. Delhi transformed as a city state remarkably under the Congress government over three successful election victories. We will make a very aggressive pitch as a party that can occupy crucial centre stage once the elections are over,” he said.
Delhi Polls Over The Last Three Months
“In 2013, when the elections were held, AAP and BJp were fighting for the anti-Congress votes. There has been a sea change in the composition of the AAP support base. Last year, they were picking up the anti-Congress vote and competing with the BJP. This year, they are focusing on an anti-BJP campaign and are competing with the Congress for the anti-BJP votes,” said Yashwant Deshmukh, the Managing Director and Editor of CVoter Foundation.
In the last three months, all polls conducted by various channels and agencies reflect that the BJP vote share is between 40 to 45% approximately. It has stayed static within this range.
The Curious Case of The Congress Mirror
“The Congress and AAP vote share according to the polls is very remarkable. The graph shows that the lines of the Congress and the AAP votes are in a very textbook mirror-graphics scenario. This is empirical evidence that when the AAP vote goes up, the Congress vote share falls and vice-versa,” Deshmukh explained.
“This is largely because of the socio-economic profile of the vote base that has traditionally been in favour of the Congress. The minorities, low income groups, the Dalits – they have been the core vote bank of the Congress. Now, they are shifting towards the AAP,” he added.
The Congress Campaign For The 2015 Elections
“We dipped in Delhi from 40-odd seats to 8. This wouldn’t have happened if it was an independent evaluation from the voter of the Delhi government. The Nirbhaya incident had an extremely negative repercussion on the electoral fortunes of the Sheila Dikshit government,” Jha said.
“The Congress has a deep base. There is a minimum threshold support that we have in the country. The challenge for us is to not just look at the seats that we won, but also the seats we were second. The difference between first and third was extremely narrow. It is important for us, as a party, to choose candidates with care,” he said.
“The number of incidents of rape has gone up in the last few months. Today, Mr. Modi is the only one the BJP is betting on. His perception as a leader who can deliver the goods is too under scrutiny. At the end of the day, the people of Delhi are an enlightened electorate. I do think that Congress will be a significant player,” the Congress spokesperson added.
Deshmukh too stated that the Congress may have lost the elections last year, but they haven’t completely lost the grip on certain constituencies. “I believe there are a dozen MLAs that are very popular but they lost because of the anti-incumbency sentiment. These candidates have a winning capacity as an individual. These are the assets that the Congress should play on,” he said.
Jha laid down the Congress plan for the upcoming elections. “Delhi deserves better than what they have had over the last year. If we can somehow go back and win the trust factor that went missing for a while, we’ll be able to turn the tide. The Congress needs to go back to what we do well - good solid street-wide campaigning and politics,” Jha concluded.