AAP upbeat as Delhi poll campaign draws to a close

AM Jigeesh New Delhi | Updated on January 24, 2018

Salaam Delhi: AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal campaigning for Assemblypolls in New Delhi's South Avenue locality on Thursday   -  PTI

Party rattles rivals by wooing the Capital’s urban underclass

As campaigning ended for Delhi Assembly elections on Thursday, the AAP seemed to have succeeded in rattling its opponents.

The real cause of concern for the big parties is the attraction the AAP holds for the poorer sections. On the last day of campaigning, the party’s roadshows were a huge draw for the urban underclass — the auto rickshaw drivers, cycle rickshaw pullers and slum dwellers in various areas of the city.

The AAP’s roadshows had people dressed as Kejriwal. Basanti Devi, a migrant domestic worker from Uttarakhand and a voter in the Trilokpuri constituency, said her vote will be for the AAP.

What convinced her was the promise of cheap houses for Delhiites by the AAP, she said.

“My major expense is house rent. I have been living in Delhi for the last 27 years. I could not earn anything as I had to pay at least half of my salary as rent. (AAP convener Arvind) Kejriwal promised to address our woes when he came to Trilokpuri during the campaign,” she recalled.

Parvez, an auto rickshaw driver in the Lakshmi Nagar area and an AAP sympathiser, said what attracted him towards the party was its attitude towards auto rickshaw drivers.

Work with dignity

“I am a poor man. I couldn’t go to schools. Now, the government says that I should have minimum educational qualifications to get a driving permit. If I had got education, I wouldn’t have opted to drive auto rickshaws,” he reasoned. He hopes that an AAP government in Delhi will help him work with dignity.

What is helping the party is the strategic mistakes the BJP had committed during the campaign.

“If we had faced the election under the leadership of Harsh Vardhan, we would have definitely been the winners. Kiran Bedi was not acceptable to many of our party workers,” said a local BJP worker at Krishna Nagar. He said the party could not effectively counter the AAP’s campaign against Bedi.

The Congress too is ‘amazed’ at the popularity of AAP. “AAP is a party of the journalists, by the journalists and for the journalists. So naturally, they have won the perception vote. It has made their work simple on the ground,” a Congress leader said.

He said the Congress’ effort is to get at least one seat more than last term’s tally of eight. “We are in the thick of the contest in 17 seats. The future of a candidate can be changed with a swing of just 5,000 votes. Anything can be possible in these 17 seats,” the party leader claimed.

Vote consolidation

A senior BJP leader told BusinessLine the “most worrisome” part of the AAP’s campaign is that it seems to have consolidated the anti-BJP vote.

“The poor, the Muslims, squatters, hawkers, the Dalits — almost all those who never voted for the BJP have now crossed over to the AAP. In earlier elections, this vote used to be divided up among the Congress, the BSP, the Samajwadi Party and even the communist parties. But now, they are all consolidating behind the AAP. Our big challenge will be to get our middle class voter out. Otherwise, this is a very tough election,” the BJP leader said.

Published on February 05, 2015

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