New Delhi: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) will launch a mega door-to-door campaign after Holi in a bid to broaden it support base and energise its cadre in the national capital in the backdrop of a possible delay in the municipal corporation elections due to the Bharatiya Janata Party-led central government’s plan to unify the three civic bodies.
Corruption, poor sanitation and rampant illegal construction are some of the key issues that the AAP has been raising against the BJP-ruled MCDs in the run up to the civic polls. But now, with the latest twist, the AAP has redesigned its campaign strategy focused around “BJP’s fear of facing polls”.
By March 15, the Arvind Kejriwal-led party, was scheduled to announce its list of candidates for the 272 wards in Delhi that are scheduled to go to polls next month. “By this time, we would have been busy with the nomination process for the MCD polls in Delhi. This last-minute decision shows that the BJP is well aware that the AAP was going to throw the BJP out of power with a landslide victory in the MCD elections. I am saying so with confidence because if the BJP genuinely wanted to see progress in the MCD, it could have taken this decision anytime in the past seven years,” said Gopal Rai, AAP’s Delhi unit convener and the city’s environment minister.
Durgesh Pathak, AAP’s MCD in-charge said the party has held a couple of meetings ever since the state election commission on March 9 called a press conference to announce the schedule of MCD polls, but informed reporters about “a communication” from the LG on unifying the three MCDs, and concluded the briefing without releasing the poll schedule.
“Since then (March 9), our campaign has slowed down. We have decided to start our campaign afresh after Holi, from next week. We will start a mega door-to-door campaign, and this time it will not be about telling the people of Delhi that the BJP-ruled MCDs are corrupt, but we will also talk about the Punjab results and how the saffron party ran away from the election battle in Delhi fearing a humiliating defeat in the civic polls,” Pathak said.
“The people of Delhi have mostly never favoured any anti-democracy move. People of Delhi may vote for Modi as the PM, but at the same time they can also read between the lines when steps such as unification of the MCDs is announced at the last moment when poll dates are to be announced. So, be it next month, six months or a year later, AAP will sweep Delhi MCD polls for sure,” he said. The MCD was trifurcated in 2012.
The BJP rejected the allegations, and said the elections will be held soon. “There is no question of BJP running away from civic elections, they will be held soon after some necessary amendments in the municipal Act especially on the funds related issues. People of Delhi have seen that the BJP has always served very well in municipal corporations. During the last seven years, people have also seen how the Kejriwal government has tried its best to economically and administratively cripple the BJP-ruled civic bodies, and therefore they would re-elect and give the BJP the fourth consecutive term in MCDs,” said Delhi BJP spokesperson Praveen Shankar Kapoor.
The current terms of municipal corporations in South, North and East Delhi municipal bodies — with 272 wards under them — will expire on May 18, May 19 and May 22 respectively.
On the ground, the AAP is also trying to keep its volunteers motivated and preparing them for a “long-drawn battle”. “Election fatigue can set in if the poll is delayed for long. So, currently everybody is taking it very slow. We are just hoping that in the next week or so, the state election commission announces poll dates,” said a party member, requesting anonymity, who is among the ticket aspirants.
Manish Jha, an AAP worker in ward 44 (Mubarakpur), said the volunteers were disappointed when the SEC deferred the poll announcement. “If elections were held on time, we would have been able to show people the first set of results of the change of regime in just one month of being elected. But, now there’s just too much uncertainty. We will soon start a fresh booth-wise door to door campaign,” he said.
Jha added that weather will also play a role now. “April is a convenient time in terms of weather. It has already started getting too hot. If the polls are held in peak summer, it would impact the voting percentage. If it happens in monsoon, the civic issues that are plaguing the city such as poor drainage will be there for all to see. BJP will be exposed even then, but it will add work load for the Delhi government which has to step in wherever the MCDs fail to deliver,” he said.