Election campaigns can be unpredictable. Which issue works among voters and which doesn’t is sometimes difficult for even political parties to understand.
BJP’s biggest move in the past few months – the Citizenship (Amendment) Act – appears to be giving it little benefit in the Delhi Assembly elections.
But if one goes by CVoter’s election tracker – based on real time responses from Delhi voters – one event did give BJP a sudden spike in popularity.
This was Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s rally in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan on 22 December. The BJP’s projected vote share increased from 25 percent on 21 December to 28 percent on 23 December, one day after the rally. This was a significant increase of 3 percentage points in just two days.
Even though PM Modi spoke about several issues like CAA in the rally, the main theme of the rally was the Modi government’s decision to regularise several unauthorised colonies in Delhi.
Even the screen behind the stage at the rally had a message ‘thanking PM Modi for regularising unauthorised colonies’.
It is this issue which appears to have given BJP an increase in support, particularly among Delhi’s poorest voters.
In the one week after the rally, BJP managed to narrow the Aam Aadmi Party’s lead over it to around 20 percentage points on 30 December.
Even on the question “which party can solve your problems?”, the AAP’s lead over BJP came down from 15 percentage points on 21 December to 8 percentage points on 23 December and then just 2 percentage points on 30 December.
This clearly indicates that the regularisation of unauthorised or informal colonies might be the one factor that could benefit BJP in the Assembly elections.
But BJP seems to have focussed less on that issue and more on the CAA, which may be ideologically more appealing for the party.
Compare the change in BJP’s popularity before and after CAA’s introduction. On 8 December, one day before the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha, 23 percent voters in Delhi said that they will vote for the BJP. This fell to 22 percent on 10 December, a day after CAB was passed in the Lower House.
Even in the week that followed, the BJP’s projected vote share remained more or less stagnant, unlike its sudden rise after Modi’s rally on the regularisation of informal colonies.
However, the BJP peaked around 30 December and AAP began increasing its lead from that point onwards.
By 6 January, when CVoter released its survey data, AAP’s projected vote share lead over BJP had increased to 28 percentage points from 20 on 30 December.
And on the question of “which party can solve your problems” AAP’s lead increased from 2 percentage points on 30 December to 12 percentage points a week later.
It does appear that the BJP wasn’t quite able to capitalise on the momentum it had gained in that one week after PM Modi’s speech.
Perhaps it missed the point that AAP’s policies – be it regarding power tariffs or schools and mohalla clinics – have benefited the poor to some extent. And the BJP would need to come up with pro-poor policies of its own to counter it.
Perhaps a targeted campaign around the regularisation issue may still be able to help BJP, much more than issues like CAA.
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