Thursday, January 29, 2015

Election Prime Time


There could be so much going on during the last phase of an Indian election, it is like watching a mega saga with a trajectory of narratives. Or so it seems like on news television. But there are few thrills like a Sunday afternoon of post election analysis, of just about any Indian election. That's where most of the fun and well, some clarity is. 2013 December poll results for Delhi assembly were no different. While some cheered for transitions of agitators to legislators. Some could not stop giggling, in anticipation for the last run of the empire, almost on it's way to fall apart. But for AAP, that victory somewhat provided a reconciliation to the three year long movement in and with this system.

And about a year later, Delhi election becomes fascinating not just because, it can claim to be a city that hosts a real diverse mix of people. And evidently their clear preferences (even undecided) about their political choices. But because somewhat of the timing of the election and somewhat because of the range of actors and non actors you see in this election; for whom Kejriwal's fate in this election might matter as much. Be it Lalu-Nitish and Mulayam, or Mamta, Left and Mayawati, they all would be keen to know that can the winning momentum of Sangh backed, Modi-Shah lead - style of campaigns be stopped at this stage, by a substantially different kind of campaign by AAP, and the latter's  lose monopoly over setting the agenda. And to that extent BJP gives it to AAP, and brings in a 'clean' administrator for it's CM candidate. Who comes from the same Delhi - Anna and Co. milieu.

I would see that as a first major shift  in BJP's electoral policy stance, since Modi took office. Where they pick a CM candidate before the election, setting their own already struggling Delhi party on fire. Another first is that Modi and his governance-development lead campaign won't be the focal point in an election they are contesting after May 16th last year. And seems like Modi doesn't want to indulge in anything that remotely lowers his popularity - with Obama visiting and ah, the Budget Session. (And what if a PDP-BJP alliance announcement might be just round the corner?).

I hope to see some Modi-Bedi rallies before the election, and BJP would fiercely try to establish Bedi as a stronghold enough, who can talk of improving government functioning and delivery. Believing that her ultra strong 'policewala' image would be in line with the strong administrator CM image, BJP wants to reflect. It's totally Bedi's game, in how she understands the nuances of being in BJP politics, and putting that to use in this seemingly AAP-ised environment. It comes across she has tirelessly studied Modi and his rhetoric conduct, and news tv will make it look like - "How to be a leader in 2 weeks."

If BJP manages to get a majority, it would  establish the credibility of Shah to have demonstrated to his critics inside the BJP and Sangh, about his ability to experiment and still win. While if AAP pulls out a stunner, (demonstrating a clear majority gallery of AAP supporters and their empirical thrust behind sadak-bijli-pani issues) and still falls short of a majority, 10 Janpath would be closely watching those possibilities. But for the major Delhi middle class, the aspiration vs our 'pressing needs reliever' narrative will be the major debating point.

 With more than three years of political agitation and instability, Delhi seems to have taken a toll. The spectator outside the fence is as curious about the results as some of the players. If pollsters may seem to demonstrate cluelessness, then this election could be a fun case study. Both AAP and BJP want to test their constituencies - both vastly different.  If some in BJP would be seeing it as a referendum on Modi's time in office, some in AAP still believe that that major chunks of our populations, "desolate from that kind of fluid wealth distribution, will consolidate". With all that AAP is, Nitish would take lessons from the fate of Kejriwal.

The Delhi 2013 Vidhan Sabha's election aftermath is such that the political repercussions of the 2015 February elections, have become a referee call on the arrival of another regional party in North India. While in the other camp - "It's the first time I am cooking without doing my own grocery." Oh how much we miss the good old anti-incumbency. Whatever may be the results, Delhi and it's politics will continue to resonate the feel of 'post agitation ground days' for a while.