New Delhi: Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal would have us believe that history is about to repeat itself.
As he did exactly five years ago on January 20, after taking his mother’s blessings, Kejriwal set out from Valmiki Mandir at Jhandewalan to file his nomination papers. Accompanied by senior party leaders, he then boarded an open jeep for a road show. He also had his a muffler around his neck and a broom, the party symbol, in his hand.
With his deputy and close friend Manish Sisodia for company, he took a similar route via Panchkuian Road and Connaught Circus and then Baba Kharak Singh Marg to reach Patel Chowk. With party workers lined up across the streets, his road show moved rather slowly and paused as supporters garlanded him.
In view of past incidents of people attacking him during interactions, a policeman sat on the bonnet of Kejriwal’s vehicle while a few others stood around him. A large number of police personnel also ran or walked along with his vehicle.
— AAP (@AamAadmiParty) January 20, 2020
In the process, Kejriwal was delayed in reaching the election office by the scheduled 3 pm and was compelled to postpone the filing of his nomination. He was also similarly delayed five years ago.
Asked why he was late, Kejriwal said, “I was told I’ll have to file nomination papers, but I said, ‘How can I leave them (his supporters at the road show) and go? I’ll go to file the papers tomorrow.”
In 2015, Kejriwal’s party swept 67 of the 70 seats.
‘Congress, BJP yet to find candidates to take on Kejriwal’
As his road show began, AAP national spokesperson and Rajya Sabha MP Sanjay Singh quipped that the opposition BJP and Congress have still not managed to find a candidate to stand up against Kejriwal from his seat, New Delhi.
While a recent opinion poll did indeed give AAP close to 60 seats in the upcoming election, much has actually changed on the ground between 2015 and now.
While in 2015 people were still voting on issues of corruption related to the previous Congress governments in Delhi, this time a factor of anxiety for Kejriwal lies in the fact that they would be voting on his government’s performance.
That there was anger against the Congress was clearly reflected in the 2015 results when the party which had ruled Delhi for 15 years till 2013 was not even able to get a single seat. But over the years, the Congress has regrouped and rebuilt itself. With Rahul Gandhi trusting the reins of the Delhi unit to another young leader, Ajay Maken, the party improved gradually, first by winning some by-elections in municipal corporations and then by bagging more votes and a bigger vote share than AAP in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.
PM as BJP’s face
The BJP is also approaching these elections differently. Last time, it had declared former top cop Kiran Bedi as its chief ministerial candidate, but this time it is going into the elections with Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the main face. The party had approached the Maharashtra, Haryana, Jharkhand and Uttarakhand elections in a similar manner and with success in the past.
AAP cadres are, however, confident that it will sweep the Assembly polls owing to the government’s performance and popularity. After all, it insists, that its free water, power and travel schemes and improvement in education and health infrastructure and facilities has endeared itself to the voters. The party also claimed in a ‘report card’ that it fulfilled all its 70 promises made in the last manifesto.
Opposition parties are keen to insist that development has only been on selective fields, taken up only to fool people.