MCD Election 2017: BJP win a Narendra Modi and Amit Shah masterstroke, likely to have long-term implications - NEWS SENTRY


Wednesday, 26 April 2017

MCD Election 2017: BJP win a Narendra Modi and Amit Shah masterstroke, likely to have long-term implications

Narendra Modi and Amit Shah. AFP

New Delhi: For once the loud drums, tonnes of laddus and rows of noisy firecrackers were missing at BJP headquarters to mark the party's fabulous victory in the three municipal corporations in Delhi. Party leaders are all cheers about decisively turning the popular tide in their favour in two years time and inflicting a crushing defeat to Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), but they kept the overall mood sombre to pay respect to the 25 CRPF soldiers killed in the Sukma Maoist attack.

BJP's massive victory in Delhi's municipal polls can be explained by only one factor — Prime Minister Narendra Modi's continued and rising charisma. It could well be for the first time in last four decades that any party has won municipal corporation elections for the third consecutive time — twice when the Indian National Congress was in power in the capital's city-state and now with Aam Admi Party ruling the state government. It's true that the existing set up in three municipal corporations in Delhi (trifurcation happened in 2012 under Congress' Sheila Dikshit regime) had not done any substantive work, yet people voted for the BJP.

The BJP leadership was acutely aware of its handicap and thus it came out with the idea of going to these polls with the catchphrase of making national capital as PM Modi's dream city. That coupled with the party leadership's decision to dump all the sitting councillors including mayors and the all-powerful standing committee chairpersons worked.

That's the way BJP made a clean break from its past and presented itself as almost a new party with a new flavour. What the party didn't officially say while doing it was that the present-day BJP under Narendra Modi-Amit Shah dispensation had been repacked, as new wine in a new bottle.

The results, which gave BJP two-third majority in all the three corporations and pushed AAP to a distant second and Congress to a poor third, have proved that the BJP's strategy worked. The strong Modi wave which blew from neighbouring Uttar Pradesh and Uttrakhand swept Delhi. It completely blew away Kejriwal's AAP and Rahul Gandhi's Congress. Days ahead of municipal polls, the BJP had scored a handsome victory in the Rajouri Ganden Assembly bypoll where it not just won but secured over 50 per cent votes and relegated AAP to a humiliating third position while making it forfeit its security deposit.

What should be most gratifying for the BJP is that the party couldn't have managed this kind of result, winning 184 out of the 270 declared results, without the vote and support from all strata of the society including the economically weaker sections in jhuggi-jhopri clusters of the national capital. The poor in these clusters once used to be Congress's social constituency, which had shifted to AAP in 2015, but in two years time instead of going back to the Congress, these clusters moved to the BJP.

That's a huge achievement for the BJP and could have long-term political implications. For the last two years, Modi had consciously and consistently created a pro-poor image and oriented his policies to suggest that his government was for the poor, for probity and for the people. His Jan-Dhan accounts, demonetisation, Ujjawala (LPG for underprivileged), stand up India and other schemes had its desired impact. Thanks to Kejriwal's whimsical words and deeds, the BJP also regained voters in the middle-class as well as the upper-class; the two sections had drifted to the AAP in 2015. The net result: BJP secured a vote percentage, which is almost equal to the vote the BJP got in 2014 Parliamentary elections.

Modi was seen by the people as someone who has been sincerely looking for solutions to their problems. In contrast, Kejriwal was seen as leader who is in a constant look out to pick up a fight, a confrontation and get into a fight or a situation like that on flimsy issues — with his party men, the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, finance minister Arun Jaitley and now with the EC on EVMs. The AAP supremo and Delhi chief minister was burdening the people of Delhi with a new set of problems.

The BJP also learnt from its mistakes in the 2015 Delhi Assembly election.

In the current municipal elections, the party didn't bombard the capital with leaders from outside the state, and all the media briefings were held by local leaders, past and present.

Such was the faith in Modi's charisma and the organisational skills of Shah that despite replacing all the sitting councillors and older candidates, the party was able to contain the rebels. The dissidents knew that the vote was going to be for Modi and not for them and thus it was prudent to be patient and wait for another day.

The results of MCD elections also catapulted Manoj Tiwari, actor-singer of Bhojpuri films and MP from north-east Delhi, who joined BJP ahead of the Parliamentary elections as BJP's face in the capital. The party had tried, tested and failed with all its supposedly established leaders, born and brought up in Delhi. Tiwari was a fresh face who would respond to AAP and Kejriwal in the language they would speak and get an instant connect with the rising Poorvanchali population.

It was a Modi-Shah master stroke to appoint Tiwari as the state unit BJP chief. Tiwari would spend nights in areas occupied with economically weaker sections, deal with their problem and make them cheer through his Hindi-Bhojpuri songs. Another Bhojpuri movie superstar Ravi Kishan became his worthy companion. And so did the older senior BJP leaders from the state including Dr Harshvardhan, Vijay Goel, Arti Mehra, Vijendra Gupta and Satish Upadhyay among others.

The BJP may not have officially celebrated its victory in the MCD election, but smiles and laughter galore in the BJP camp. All thanks to Modi.

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