There are several regional satraps in India, even the national parties enjoy their fair share of them. But like Narendra Modi has become an icon for the BJP and is widely expected to storm through the Gujarat Assembly polls later this year, the Congress has its own ace – Shiela Dikshit. And just like the Congress is sailing the Titanic in Gujarat, the BJP is on a battered old rowboat about to capsize in Delhi.
The defeat of the ABVP in the Delhi University polls despite a higher turnout should be a big warning sign for the BJP, but the Delhi-unit of the party is racked with internal battles and well, the chances of defeating Sheila Dikshit or even gaining a couple of seats in the next Lok Sabha polls in Delhi seem remote, the Congress has a vice-like grip on all seven Delhi Lok Sabha seats. Several people might have a lot of choice words for Kapil Sibal but the possibility of usurping Chandni Chowk from him seems almost laughable.
I am writing this piece as a BJP sympathiser, as someone who has seen limited development in Delhi under Sheila Dikshit, yet would like the BJP to come to power. Yet, the state of the State-unit of the BJP is nothing to write home about: Unedifying allegations abound and there are 10 different aspirants for the Chief Minister’s post.
Yes, the possibility exists that Sheila Dikshit’s son and anointed successor, Sandeep Dikshit, who is the Lok Sabha member from East Delhi, might get into a giant battle with Union Sports Minister and Lok Sabha member from Central Delhi and the Chief Minister’s former blue-eyed boy Ajay Maken. However, winning an election by default is not a terribly convincing victory.
The BJP has no vision for Delhi, the party’s State leaders have not articulated any policies that they will improve the city – from public transport to water woes, the party has no solutions to offer. Assembly election is just a year away, and the residents of this city have no idea who will stand against Sheila Dikshit. Occasional protest rallies do not cut it, and while there is considerable anger against the Congress at the Centre, most middle-class and lower-income group Delhi-ites, the bulk of the voting classes, are generally sympathetic to Sheila Dikshit despite all sorts of follies committed by her Government during the Commonwealth Games and on other infrastructure projects. If Arvind Kejriwal does form a political party as he wants to, the anti-incumbency vote might well go to him, because say what you will about he appears to be more sincere than the Delhi State BJP.
In light of recent events, it could be that Delhi goes to the polls after a national general election; in that case things might change if a new dispensation comes to power at the Centre. Yet with over 10,000 booths in Delhi, booth-level observers have not been appointed and there has been no mobilisation on the ground by the principal Opposition. The party should not rest on its laurels on winning the municipality polls in Delhi — the BJP barely scraped across the line and in the South Delhi Municipal Corporation has a minority corporation running.
The Delhi unit of the party has not reached out to the various immigrant communities that now together comprise the majority population of Delhi. This influx is mainly from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and no attempts have been made to integrate these Purvanchalis — or other communities for that matter — into the party.
Do not get me wrong, I want the BJP to win in Delhi, but the party has to really pull up its socks because as it stands right now, the Congress under Sheila Dikshit seems set to take another term in Delhi.