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Campaign ends for Delhi polls: Both BJP and AAP fancy their chances

AM Jigeesh Azadpur (Delhi) | Updated on February 06, 2020

A campaign based on Shaheen Bagh and the CAA-NRC-NPR row has helped the BJP to better its position in the fight against the ruling AAP in Delhi, but the key theme of the campaigns, which ended on Thursday, is development. The AAP has maintained the solid support it enjoys among the lower and lower middleclass voters through welfare measures in education and healthcare, while the Hindutva agenda has helped the BJP to win the support of the middleclass and upper-middleclass voters.

The polling is on Saturday.

The campaign is over, but the BJP has asked all its leaders, including 250 MPs, to camp in Delhi and oversee the arrangements at the booth level. The Congress is also hopeful of making a comeback to the Assembly after five years. The opinion polls have helped the AAP in its campaigns and the party believes that no divisive agenda will work at the ground level.

A clear class divide?

Traders and workers in Azadpur, one of the largest vegetable markets in the country, give a clear picture of the electoral situation in Delhi. The BJP, whose traditional support base is traders, is comfortably placed among the major traders but almost all workers in the market with whom BusinessLine spoke to pledged their support to the AAP.

The increase in the onion prices and the campaign targetting traders have let them down. The General secretary of Potato and Onion Merchants’ Association of the market Rajendra Sharma believes that no party can blame traders for the increase in prices. “If the traders were responsible for the price rise, why didn’t they arrest us? It was the floods in Karnataka and Maharashtra that resulted in steep increase in the onion prices. Traders suffered due to this. It is wrong to blame traders for the price rise,” Sharma said and added that the market had gained nothing in the last five years. “Be it the AAP government at the State or the BJP government at the Centre, the market has gained nothing. It was developed during Sheila Dikshit’s tenure, but since then no work has been done,” Sharma, a supporter of the Congress, said.

‘Shaheen Bagh a non-issue’

Moniram, another senior trader in the market said, the livelihood issues of the people will be the main theme in the polls. “The Shaheen Bagh protest is an issue limited to that area. Majority of the people will not fall into the BJP’s campaign of Hindu-Muslim polarisation. What I hear is that AAP is making a comeback,” he said.

Motiram, another trader, differed. “AAP just gave some freebies. Such freebies will not help a society to grow. It is a party without any ideology or stand. BJP at least has a Hindutva base,” he said, appreciating the Centre’s position on the CAA and other issues.

Saleem, a worker, was sure of AAP retaining power. “They have done a lot for the people. The standards of schools and hospitals have improved. Water and power bills do not trouble us much now,” he said. Sita, who makes a living by selling vegetables near the market, said BJP will form the government. “Their candidates are good and accessible people,” she said.

Anurag, a young trader, said the inefficiency of the government systems was clearly visible during the “onion crisis”. “Traders lost crores of rupees. The price of onions was fluctuating between ₹5,000 a bag of 40 kg to ₹120. The farmers were also at the receiving end. Had there been a system of MSP for onions, both the farmers and the traders would have benefited. Now, there is a ban on export and it hampered the stabilisation of prices. Stability should have been maintained. But the government imported onions, which is rotting here now without takers,” he said.

Published on February 06, 2020

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