Caps, scarves and Delhi’s keen electoral battle

New Delhi:  In these keenly contested elections of the capital many are wearing their political affinities in the form of caps and scarves. As campaigning for the Delhi assembly polls ended Thursday, people seemed to relish the close contest between the AAP and the BJP.

Delhi voters were enthusiastic about the polls taking place more than a year after the AAP government resigned and the city state came under the central rule.

The contest promises to go to the wire with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) putting its might under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, its president Amit Shah and chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi, and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal giving them a tough fight.

The Congress, too, is hoping to improve its prospects under its young face Ajay Maken.

Kejriwal, who resigned after 49 days in office, seems to have a large measure of support among the poor and among the working class. The middle-class appears more receptive to the BJP.

Sandeep Kumar, an autorickshaw driver in Paharganj who had a BJP cover at the rear of his vehicle, said he was not a committed supporter of the party.

He said he voted for Modi in the Lok Sabha polls but will vote for Kejriwal in the Feb 7 polls to the 70-member Delhi assembly.

Asked why he was carrying a BJP cover, Kumar said he got it from BJP supporters.

“It is a full back cover and would have cost me Rs.500. I agreed to have it on my auto. But I will vote according to my choice. Kejriwal also says take whatever you get, but vote for AAP,” Kumar told Media Sources.

A group of porters at New Delhi Railway Station also spoke in Kejriwal’s favour.

“We will vote for him. There is not much to decide,” said Kamal Nain, a coolie.

Rakesh Sharma, a worker at a shop worker in Chandni Chowk, however, said that the AAP rule in Delhi may lead to indiscipline on the roads.

“There is a possibility that if AAP forms the government, people will not show due regard to police personnel on duty. They may be lax about following rules. I will vote for BJP,” he said.

Shamsher Singh, an autorickshaw driver, said he voted for the AAP in the last elections but was not sure about doing so this time as Kejriwal had quit as chief minister.

“BJP is an option for me but I will make up my mind on the day of polling,” Singh said.

Rohan Verma, a bank executive, said that he supported Modi but not the BJP’s chief ministerial candidate Kiran Bedi.

The elections have also driven a wedge between friends.

Nidhi Sharma, a young woman supporter of the AAP, was taking a meal with Ayush Saxena, a BJP supporter, at an eating joint in Connaught Place. While Sharma wore an AAP cap, Saxena wore a BJP scarf.

“We are college friends but we have our own choice of parties,” Sharma, a college student, told IANS.

Ram Nath, a cycle rickshaw puller, carried an AAP flag in the Dwarka area of Delhi.

“We have seen Congress rule for so many years and at present are watching the BJP. It is the ‘jhaduwala’ who in reality understands our problems and will address them,” he said.

Sarla, a housewife in an MIG housing society in Sarita Vihar, said her family were BJP supporters but had voted for the AAP last time due to the hopes generated by Kejriwal.

“But the way he quit the chief minister’s post, I am not sure if any of us (family) would vote for him again,” she said.

Sarla asked how Kejriwal will get money for the promises he has made on water and power.

“Who will foot these bill? I feel he has not thought through clearly on these lines. If Delhi government is debt-ridden because of these freebies, he may quit again,” she added.

Swarup Mukherjee, an IT professional at Badarpur, said the AAP’s promise of drastically reducing power tariff does not appear to be feasible.

“It is true that AAP managed to address issues related to auto drivers. But their promise of reducing electricity and water bills does not appear feasible. If the city wants to look at growth, then BJP is the best bet,” he said.

Javed Raza, a resident of Chandni Chowk, said that people were returning to the Congress.

“We have seen that both BJP and AAP have not lived up to their promises. Congress did a lot of development in its 15 year rule,” he said.