MCD polls: Why are BJP & Congress attacking AAP instead of each other
With only two weeks to go before Delhi chooses the next party to rule the three municipal bodies of Delhi, the local body elections are being fought in a very Assembly election like manner.
Instead of focusing on the corrupt and ineffectual tenure of the BJP, these elections have become all about the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) that is in a way making its debut in the municipal polls. It did contest the municipal by-polls held in 2016 but that could hardly be called a debut.
It seems both Congress and BJP see AAP as a common enemy which is evident from their unrelenting attacks on Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal and his legislators. While AAP has constantly been targeting BJP's non-performance in the last 15 years, the Congress has trained all its guns at the ruling party conveniently ignoring the misdeeds of the BJP for the last 10 years. In such a scenario, these elections bear resemblance to Assembly polls wherein the opposition is targeting the incumbent government over its failed promises.
Even Congress local level leaders arrogantly dismiss AAP as a non-entity and claim that it is a direct fight between the BJP and the Grand Old Party. On being questioned about the reasons for such frontal attacks on the Delhi chief minister and his party and not so much on the saffron party, a Delhi based leader said, “Kejriwal's house tax waiver could become the game changer and that is why the party is targetting the Delhi government on the promises it made.”
When asked about the popularity of the the schemes introduced by the AAP government, he claimed that the “Modi-Yogi” duo is more popular than that. “The Congress leadership at the ground level is attacking the BJP over its dismal performance for the last 10 years. However, we still see BJP as a bigger threat especially after its resounding success in the recently held Assembly polls, especially in UP and Uttarakhand. I would be surprised if AAP manages to win even 30 seats,” he said.
He goes to mention about the recent Shunglu Committee report which has raised serious questions about several decisions taken by the Kejriwal government. The committee found irregularities in 404 files and lashed out at the state government for gross misconduct. The report has created furore and could eventually see a dip in party's fortunes but not to the extent that it can be considered a spent force.
Several senior leaders of the BJP too had gone on record to say that it considers Congress as its main competitor and that Kejriwal has lost his credibility which will be proved once the results are announced. The party had also conducted a survey which claimed Congress to be their main opponent in the upcoming polls.
It is quite bewildering to see that the party which swept the Delhi Assembly polls winning 67 of the 70 seats in 2015 is not even being considered as a worthy opponent. While the party which failed to win even a single seat is being considered as the main opponent by the BJP. Many believe this is a desperate ploy by both the parties to undermine the AAP to ensure that there is no hype around the ruling party which has done considerable work in Delhi in the last two years.
Both the parties should be cautious of taking AAP considering it has won many supporters with its pro-people schemes that have drastically improved the city's infrastructure. Moreover, the rearrangement of the 272 wards too is likely to go in AAP's favour since municipal wards have increased in slums, unauthorised colonies and rural areas which are considered to be party's strongholds.
Having ruled the MCD for the last 10 years, the BJP seems worried with this phenomenal rise of the AAP which reflected in the municipal by-polls held in May last year. Of the 13 seats that went to polls, AAP, while making its debut in the municipal polls, won five while Congress made a comeback winning four and BJP pushed to the third position.
Don't write off AAP
A Congress leader feels that the the infighting within Congress and BJP could swing the tide in AAP's favour since a lot of disgruntled party leaders are contesting as independents. A Congress leader said, “The number of rebels who were not given tickets by the party is huge and even the BJP is facing a similar issue which could work in AAP's favour. But there will be more clarity once the final list is out.”
Further, Congress' senior leadership in the state is particularly miffed with state Congress president Ajay Maken and several of them have revolted against him. “Congress has become Ajay Congress in Delhi and the ticket distribution has been extremely shady where family members were given prominence over genuine leaders who are now contesting as independents,” said the Congress leader.
Even BJP is facing rebellion within its ranks which could derail the party's plans of winning the trifurcated MCD for the fourth consecutive term. And, it is for this reason that the party has decided to invite six chief ministers, including Yogi Adityanath, to campaign during the polls.
However, it would be naive for BJP and Congress to dismiss AAP as a spent force since the development initiatives of the Kejriwal government are hugely popular amongst the city's residents. These polls could be a moment of reckoning for Kejriwal or a reality check if he loses badly. But, whatever be the case, AAP is here to stay, thanks to its pro-people schemes.