The Aam Aadmi Party which had come to power in Delhi by winning 67 out of 70 assembly seats has lost its sheen. As Delhi went to poll for seven Lok Sabha seats the contest is happening between Congress and BJP as AAP seems to be losing the plot due to four years of anti-incumbency. AAP which had formed government in Delhi in 2015 has lost its popularity due to acrimonious relationship with the Modi government at the centre. AAP was unable to form an alliance with Congress which might dent its poll prospects. Talks between the Congress president Rahul Gandhi and the AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal have failed to yield the desired results. The alliance with the Congress would have helped AAP to consolidate anti-BJP votes but that did not happen.
Political expert Abdul Wahab said, “AAP is an emerging party in Delhi. The development work undertaken by the party in the field of education, infrastructure, reducing electricity bill will benefit the party. Modi was featured on the cover of Time Magazine in which it was mentioned that he is the divider of the nation. Delhi residents are aware about this. They will vote for AAP in the name of development.”
“Congress is not in the race to win election. Muslim voters might vote for Congress. They are unhappy with Kejriwal due to lack of development in Muslim dominated areas. Congress might stand to gain two to four seats. BJP will be on the backfoot,”he added.
AAP has fielded renowned faces like Raghav Chadha, Atishi who have been known for transforming government schools in Delhi. Chadha is locked in a battle with sitting BJP MP Ramesh Bhiduri in south Delhi seat. Here Congress candidate is Vijender Singh. Recurring confrontation with Lieutenant-Governor who represents the centre has not helped AAP’s cause. The party also has been demanding full statehood to Delhi but centre is turning a blind eye towards it. The AAP manifesto focuses on granting full statehood to Delhi where state government can take control of the law and order without interference from the centre.
Journalist Kanchan Srivastava said, “There is a tough fight going on so we can’t predict which party will win. Surveys undertaken are showing mixed results. The true picture will emerge after the counting of votes. Every party works for its own prosperity and if Congress has not aligned with AAP there might be some political calculations behind it. Congress has been working since a long period of time. Congress might have an upperhand if it has not aligned with AAP. If Congress had gone for an alliance with AAP then it would have been a disaster for the former.”
On the other hand, Congress is trying to regain its lost ground in Delhi. Congress announced the names of candidates for all the seven Lok Sabha seats in Delhi by fielding three time chief minister Sheila Dixit from North-East Delhi, former Union minister Ajay Maken from New Delhi and Olympic bronze medalist Virender Singh from South Delhi. The party also fielded JP Agarwal from Chandni Chowk, Arvinder Singh Lovely from East Delhi, Rajesh Lilothia from North-West Delhi and Mahabal Mishra from West Delhi. Sheila Dikshit has took over from Maken as the Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief earlier this year.
CPI (M) leader Ajit Abhyankar said, “According to me AAP will win more seats in Delhi. They have done outstanding working since last four years. People of Delhi can see the politics. Residents also have seen how Modi can stoop to low level.”
BJP is banking on the split of anti-party votes between Congress and AAP. BJP had won all the Lok Sabha seats in Delhi last time. The party is expecting the Modi wave and Balakot air strike will turn its fortunes in Delhi in ongoing Lok Saba polls. BJP has fielded Harsh Vardhan from Chandni Chowk, Manoj Tiwari from North East Delhi, Parvesh Verma from West Delhi, Ramesh Bidhuri from South Delhi, Hans Raj Hans from North West Delhi, Gautam Gambhir from East Delhi and Meenakshi Lekhi from New Delhi. At present BJP holds all the seven seats in Delhi.