New Delhi: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which has been aggressively attacking the “Arvind Kejriwal model of governance” in poll-bound Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh to counter the Delhi Chief Minister and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) president, has decided to focus on its own governance achievements in the run-up to the municipal elections in the national capital.
According to BJP sources, the party is hoping that with the delimitation exercise complete for municipal wards in Delhi, the civic elections (earlier scheduled for April) will be held this year. The party has been ruling the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) for three straight terms now.
In preparation for the civic polls and facing a challenge from AAP, the BJP has decided to run a positive campaign in the city by highlighting its own achievements.
Ahead of launching a door-to-door campaign from 1 November to connect with voters, the BJP leadership is holding hectic parleys.
A senior BJP leader said the party has been seeking feedback from Delhi MPs on the kinds of issues that need to be highlighted to counter the AAP, and has held a series of meetings in this regard. These gatherings have also been attended by the party’s general secretary (organisation) Siddharthan, state president Adesh Gupta, and Delhi BJP in-charge Baijayant Panda.
“The BJP has done so much for Delhi in the past several years at the municipal level. Our agenda can’t only be criticising Arvind Kejriwal and his flawed policies. Voters also want to know what we have done in the past and what we intend to offer them in terms of an alternative,” said a senior BJP leader who attended one of these meetings.
As part of the poll preparations, a meeting of senior Delhi BJP leaders was held Tuesday, a day after Diwali, where the BJP leadership formed several management committees after detailed deliberations. BJP MLA Vijender Gupta was put in charge of publicity, state vice-president Rajiv Babbar was tasked with heading a committee to look after content and creatives, and former Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay will look after the manifesto committee.
Speaking to ThePrint, Panda said: “The AAP is on the backfoot because of the massive liquor scam and the letter by Anna Hazare on the issue. We have been preparing for elections for quite some time now and are confident of victory.”
A second BJP leader said a list of the BJP’s achievements at the municipal level has been prepared and, in the first stage, hoardings have been put up across Delhi.
“We are fully prepared for elections. We will be inaugurating our election office in the first week of November too. We will highlight our achievements as well as the failures of the AAP and Congress. We are confident of coming to power once again,” MLA Gupta told ThePrint.
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For the civic body elections, the BJP will launch a campaign about its “good governance” at the municipal level, what the party intends to offer to voters if it comes to power, and how the “AAP came in the way of the civic bodies’ efficient functioning”, party sources said.
While AAP runs the Delhi government, the BJP has been in power at the municipal level in the city. Outside Delhi, Kejriwal’s party is giving a challenge to the BJP in Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh.
“In Gujarat and Himachal Pradesh, we have been highlighting the failure of the Kejriwal-led AAP government in Delhi and it is resonating with voters. But in Delhi, where we have been in power (at the municipal level) for so long, our campaign can’t be about countering AAP but highlighting what we intend to do,” said a third BJP leader.
The BJP’s central leadership has also asked the state unit to come up with an elaborate campaign to boost the image of the MCD, especially as the party is facing significant anti-incumbency. “An internal survey conducted last year in October had revealed that the AAP was surging ahead,” said a fourth BJP leader.
The last time the BJP was in power in Delhi was in 1998, under the chief ministership of Sushma Swaraj, but in the ensuing 24 years, it has been unable to win at the assembly level, with the Congress (1998 to 2013), and then the AAP, forming governments.
Where the BJP did come to power was in the MCD, and later the trifurcated civic bodies (divided in 2012), which it has controlled for more than 15 years.
The Centre had announced earlier this year the merger of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation, North Delhi Municipal Corporation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation into a unified MCD.
The upcoming elections will be the first to take place since the three municipal corporations were unified. After delimitation, the total number of wards in the capital has been reduced from 272 to 250.
(Edited by Nida Fatima Siddiqui)
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