Nitish Kumar is all set to arrive in Delhi in the first week of April to campaign for the JD(U) in the upcoming MCD elections. Reportedly, two big rallies have been planned. The JD(U) has fielded candidates for all 272 seats, spread over three civic bodies.
The party’s Delhi unit has been preparing for the event since December. Sanjay Jha, the JD(U)’s national General Secretary, has been appointed as the head of the Delhi operation.
The voter demographic in Delhi has undergone quite a bit of change over the last 15 years. Voters from Bihar and eastern UP have built up enough political influence to rival the traditional Punjabi, Jat, and Khatri vote.
A steady inflow of migrant workers from the former two into the nation’s capital over the last decade and half has altered the political balance of Delhi.
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Will Nitish Kumar’s Strategy Be Successful?
Any attempt at answering this question necessitates a look at the strength of the votebank from Bihar and eastern UP in Delhi.
In the 2015 assembly elections in Delhi, both the BJP and the Congress made the mistake of underestimating the Bihar-UP vote. AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal, however, played a smart hand by fielding 11 candidates from the region. He was amply rewarded when he rose to victory with the support of Poorvanchali voters.
In MCD election 2017, however, Nitish Kumar is all set to forget his camaraderie with Kejriwal and entice this votebank away. To do that, he not only has a solid party platform of issues, but also has AAP’s internal feuding to cash in on.
What Are Nitish’s Major Election Issues?
- Unauthorised colonies
- Power Supply
- Water Supply
JD(U) Vs AAP
AAP, which announced its first list of candidates on 24 February, is fielding 109 candidates, 49 of which are women. Some politicians, alleging discrimination in ticket distribution, have crossed over to JD(U). Vinod Jha, the secretary of AAP Poorvanchali Shakti, as well as MLA Praveen Kumar have shifted to the JD(U) with their supporters in tow.
Vinod Jha, JD(U)“AAP will no longer have the support of voters from Bihar and UP. He has betrayed our people by ignoring us when it came to ticket distribution. AAP had promised that it will field at least one Poorvanchali candidate in each legislative assembly constituency, but that did not happen.
Prakash Parva and Political Payoff
Prakash Parv, the 350th birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh, has been snatched up by political parties as the perfect occasion to woo Sikh voters ahead of polls. By organising a grand Prakash Utsav in Patna, Nitish Kumar made sure to win the goodwill of Punjabi voters. Whether this goodwill translates into votes in Delhi municipal elections remains to be seen.
BJP is Not Too Far Behind
The BJP took cognisance of its error after the results of the 2015 assembly elections. It promptly dismissed Satish Upadhyay, the President of BJP’s Delhi unit, and appointed Poorvanchali star Manoj Tiwari as the chief of the party’s operation in Delhi.
The BJP played its card before the polls could get underway, but the JD(U)’s entry into the fray undoubtedly complicates matters where vote share is concerned.
Still, the gamble the BJP has taken in ignoring established leaders in favour of new blood might just pay off.
In Retrospect: 2012 MCD Elections
Congress Readies Itself for the Fight
After its victory in Punjab, the Congress is now gearing up for the showdown in Delhi. It has chalked out a plan of door-to-door campaigning along with a ticket distribution system that takes into account the intricacies of all important areas of the capital.
The campaign, called ‘Meri Dilli, Mere Sapne’ (My Delhi, My Dreams) is well underway, with around 2 lakh part workers deployed for the same.
Chatar Singh, Leader, Delhi CongressIn accordance with VP Rahul Gandhi’s instructions, a team of 15 workers will be stationed at each polling booth. Each worker will be in charge of 50 to 60 voters.
With an unprecedented four-way struggle between political parties, these MCD elections are shaping up to be an exciting contest. Will AAP be able to retain its Poorvanchal vote or lose it to the JD(U)? Will the Congress help in stalling the BJP-Modi wave or go under? Only time will tell.
Voting is on 22 April while counting is scheduled to take place on 25th. Watch this space for all the updates.
(This story was first published in Quint Hindi.)