Who should fear Arvind Kejriwal more - Narendra Modi or Rahul Gandhi?

By Biplob Ghosal | Last Updated: Saturday, January 4, 2014 - 07:05
 
Biplob Ghosal  

With Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) pulling off an extraordinary performance in the Delhi Assembly Elections and now setting its eyes on the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the big question now is which party`s fortunes would the AAP hit the most - Congress or BJP.

Kejriwal, who tapped into public anger to take the AAP to the corridors of power, is certainly a new phenomenon in the Indian political arena. The newly-elected Delhi Chief Minister is sure to give both Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi and BJP`s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi sleepless nights with his politics of `change`, which has been received well by the `aam aadmi`. Undoubtedly, he has rewritten the rule of the game with many seasoned politicians now accepting that they need to learn from the AAP.

For the first time in Indian history, a unique type of election campaigning and transparency in selection of candidates were practised during Delhi polls. The way `Aam Aadmi` CM Kejriwal met the people and convinced them to vote for his party, the way the new entrant managed funds and doled out tickets to low-profile people stunned everybody. Even the Congress, which has ruled the country for decades, had to acknowledge the fact, with its vice president Rahul Gandhi saying that the new party has succeeded by encouraging involvement of people and there is a need to learn from it.

And after being elected, Kejriwal and his party MLAs have gone full throttle to honour the promises they made to the electorate - unlike the other political parties. It was exceptional to see the CM designate and MLAs opting for metro ride, autos rather than taking government vehicles with red beacons. They have even refused government bungalows and security - making them more popular among people. In appearance at least, they seem to have been successful in representing themselves as true representatives of the common man.

While the Congress is certainly losing grip over the electorate, as was evident during the recent Assembly polls, the BJP under the leadership of Modi is undoubtedly surging ahead. The Gujarat Chief Minister successfully latched onto the anti-Congress mood and turned the tide towards the BJP. He has focussed on hitting the top Congress leadership in his speeches and is also quite popular amongst the youth brigade of the country.

But, the Delhi polls have changed the scenario, Modi, who was being seen as the only hope after Congress`s dismal performance, is facing a new threat from Kejriwal. The Magsaysay award winner is no less competent than the Gujarat CM. The past record of former officer of the Indian Revenue Services is his biggest asset as he goes on projecting himself as a viable alternative. The AAP convenor`s life has been quite interesting. He has not only worked with Mother Teresa`s organisation for two years, but also participated actively in RTI and Jan Lokpal movement. The biggest asset is his clean image during his tenure as an Income Tax officer and also he doesn`t carry any past baggage. On the other hand, Modi`s Gujarat riots tainted past is certainly what the `able administrator` wants to get rid of.

One of Modi`s biggest drawbacks is his unacceptability in the Muslim community, which forms 20 percent of the total Indian population.

Both Congress and the BJP had written off AAP before elections, but to their nightmare, the new political party not only succeeded in keeping the BJP away from power in Delhi, but also routed the grand old party from the national capital, which was considered to be Sheila Dikshit`s bastion, who herself lost to Kejriwal by a huge margin.

Kejriwal and his party have changed politics in the country and it`s for the first time that debates are being held on the real issues concerning the `aam aadmi`.

The BJP and Congress might be opting for a new strategy to tackle this new threat, as both realise that if the Delhi CM succeeds in implementing even half of the promises made by the AAP, he would certainly pose a big challenge to national parties in the upcoming General Elections.

Though AAP has attracted the Delhi voters, LS polls are a totally different ball game where caste and religion play a major factor. To what extent Kejriwal and team will be able to convince voters with their `Swaraj` politics is a wait-and-watch game, but at present the party faces a daunting task of stretching its wings, galvanising supporters and selecting `clean` candidates. If Kejriwal wants his party to win big in the upcoming polls, he has to play his cards cautiously as the BJP poster boy is no less popular in the country. Nearly a month ago, AAP leader Yogendra Yadav, in an interaction session with media personalities, had admitted that majority of Delhiites, who wanted Kejriwal as the CM, would vote for Modi in General Elections. He had also said that ever since Modi was appointed BJP`s PM candidate, the youth vote has tilted towards the Gujarat CM.

Whatever be the outcome of the 2014 elections, but with the entry of AAP, the dynamics have changed and undoubtedly the party poses a big challenge to Narendra Modi and the BJP, and not just the Congress and Rahul Gandhi.



First Published: Thursday, January 2, 2014 - 15:14

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