AAP’s election campaigning in both Gujarat, and Himachal have seen a common pattern. AAP’s election fervour fizzled out in both the states much ahead of election date. First, because of Delhi Deputy CM Manish Sisodia’s name cropping up in Delhi liquor policy scam and Satyendra Jain’s arrest in a money laundering case.
The latest hurdle that has bamboozled AAP has come in the form of leaked videos of Jain’s lavish lifestyle in jail. AAP has been caught completely off-guard with the viral videos that BJP has been successfully able to cash in on and churn out an effective and attractive “Delhi bana Thailand” campaign.
Both these events forced AAP to put guards back on running back to their home turf of Delhi, where they must win the Municipality elections to maintain their clout in the state.
People of Gujarat and Delhi will be voting to elect the new Chief Minister and Mayor respectively. Himachal Pradesh, an important state bordering China has already voted to elect its new government. All eyes are now fixed at the results of Gujarat, the state of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s juggernaut has been unstoppable for the last 27 years and the ruling party is not leaving any stone unturned to retain power in India’s richest state.
BJP has launched a high-octane campaign in Gujarat and has fielded all its star campaigners led by the Prime Minister himself.
Its well-oiled poll machinery has gone all out in all 89 seats that will go to polls on December 1, 2022. It has planned a more aggressive campaign for the 93 assembly seats that will vote in the second phase on December 5, 2022.
BJP is facing new entrant Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which has entered the poll arena with all guns blazing. BJP has managed to weather the initial AAP storm after the Arvind Kejriwal Government was mired in the unsavoury Liquor scandal that raised serious questions about probity in the public life.
BJP went for the jugular as AAP was pushed on the backfoot as findings by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) raised questions about favouritism dished out to selected few in allotting highly lucrative liquor contracts. BJP trained its guns on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his deputy Manish Sisodia for entering into a controversy to defraud the exchequer.
Controversy surrounding Satyendar Jain, a minister in the Kejriwal cabinet has armed BJP a potent ammo to target Kejriwal and his party in Gujarat and in Delhi as well where both parties are locked in a no holds barred campaign to get the control of unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD). Jain is lodged in the high security Mandoli jail in East Delhi after the ED arrested him on the charges of money laundering. BJP has tweeted CCTV grabs of Jain enjoying massage and home cooked food inside his prison cell. Facilities given to Delhi’s Home Minister Satyendar Jain are in violation of the Jail Manual.
AAP has been finding it tough to defend while BJP has launched a blitzkrieg to paint AAP and Kejriwal in black.
These issues are echoing in Gujarat and Delhi both. Kejriwal who was aiming to dent BJP in Gujarat has been caught in the vortex of controversies at a time when his party was gearing up to wrest MCD from the BJP.
Declaration of MCD elections on December 4, 2022 has also put paid to AAP’s chances as its leadership and resources were engaged in high-voltage Gujarat elections. Fighting a well-oiled and battle -hardened BJP’s poll machinery is not everyone’s cup of tea.
Kejriwal was forced to move his resources to Delhi as loss in MCD polls will give BJP a stick to beat with. AAP had to tone down its campaign in Himachal Pradesh and move towards Gujarat. Then it was forced to concentrate on MCD polls.
Congress is another player in Himachal, Gujarat and MCD elections. The grand old party has been hoping to reap a rich harvest in the wake of its former president Rahul Gandhi’s Bharat Jodo Yatra. However, the party appears to have given up on Gujarat as its leadership and communication machinery is focused in getting eye-balls to the Gandhi scion who has trained his eyes upon 2024.
With Congress floundering in Gujarat and AAP forced to recalibrate its campaign in the aftermath of scandals and controversies, its BJP that has been sliming all the way. If initial projections are an indicator, BJP is heading towards its biggest victory in Gujarat,
Indications are that the BJP has managed to overcome anti-incumbency in Himachal Pradesh where no party has returned to power for the second term since 1993. BJP ran a full throttle campaign in Himachal with the slogan ‘Raj Nahi Rivaj Badlenge’ (We will change the trend not the government) to retain its hold on the state.
Its main opponent Congress suffered in the absence of Veer Bhadra Singh, who was Chief Minister for 5 terms. Rahul Gandhi’s preoccupation with Bharat Jodo Yatra and his recalcitrance to campaign in Himachal appeared to have dented the moral of the party workers though Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi held 4 meetings in four districts but that was not enough to counter BJP’s aggressive campaign with all its star campaigners painting the state saffron.
An analysis of the emerging political scenario in the aftermath of the results of Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat and MCD elections will lead towards the bigger picture of 2024 when India will vote to elect its new government. We may not call it a semi final before 2024 General Elections as bigger states such as Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan and a tiny state Tripura will go to polls to elect its governments in 2023. However, the victory margin in Gujarat, Himachal and MCD elections will throw some light about the things to come before the mother of all elections in 2024. BJP’s wins in Gujarat and Himachal would not be construed as mere state-specific phenomenon, it would be attributed to the acceptance of the policies of the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government.
Come December 8,2022 and the entire country would be waiting with baited breath to see which direction India’s political wind is blowing.