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Sunday, February 16, 2014

Delhi drama : a great missed Opportunity for the BJP

Some say he chickened out of his promises. Some say he was right to resign in protest. Some say he is an anarchist. Some say he sacrificed CM post for the PM post.

But say what you like, the Twitter/Facebook are all in a tizzy over Arvind Kejriwal: the one man party. He is playing the game well, where at least for the time being, he has the spotlight and (maybe) even public sympathy: a potent combination that can turn fortunes in a democracy.

The Kejriwal gambit
First lets understand how losingDelhi for Kejriwal is a step towards national success. In one master stroke, Arvind Kejriwal has pitted his fledgling party squarely against the two giants. He has not only scored a moral victory by sacrificing his CM post for the Jan Lokpal bill (JLP), he may also have succeeded in painting the congress-BJP to be in cahoots, thus gaining significant political ground. Also, he has freed himself and the top guns from the day-to-day demands of Delhi administration and brought them to do what they do best: campaign.

The BJP folly
Much as I admire the BJP and their passion for the country, I believe the BJP has missed an important chance in the unfolding Delhi drama. By standing with the Congress, and opposing the Jan Lokpal bill, the BJP took a wrong political step.
Now assume if BJP had supported AAP and helped them bring the bill. What would have happened:
  • AAP's mass appeal spent: The single most important arrow in AAP’s quiver i.e. the Jan Lokpal would have been spent. AAP would then have been saddled with the daily affairs of the Delhi state, leaving their best guns (read Arvind Kejriwal) too busy to pose a serious threat to the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
  • Counter to UPA's Lokpal claims: The UPA passed a much watered down and almost ineffective Lokpal Bill (LP) in the Lok Sabha. But toothless as it may be, it allows Shri Rahul Gandhi (Beloved and Respected Leader) to use it to project Congress as fighters of corruption. Had BJP supported JLP, they (the BJP) too would have got the credit for JLP. A senior BJP leader of Delhi had already disclosed that the BJP was willing to support the JLP. So with a little bit of imagination, they could have effectively neutralized AAP threat as well as left the Congress with egg on their face.
  • Capture AAP's vote-share: Having hijacked the AAP’s anti-corruption image, the BJP would have in one go captured the huge anti-corruption support base of AAP which would have been crucial for 2014 elections.

Why the BJP MUST neutralize Kejriwal
The NDA, unlike the UPA (or the NDA-1) is still short of powerful & dependable allies. So even in a best case scenario of the NDA winning 220-240 seats, they shall still desperately need allies, who as of today are hard to come by.

The BJP must be wary that a Delhi-like situation (or earlier, in May-1996 the 13-day Vajpayee Govt) doesn’t appear again at the centre when despite being the single largest party, the BJP is frustrated and not able to form a government.

Every vote counts, and hence its imperative, in my view that it captures AAP’s vote-share.

All is still not lost
I believe that all is still not lost for the BJP, though they may be a bit late. This is what they must do:
  1. Take a leaf out of Congress’ book and send a letter of support to AAP, with ONLY ONE condition: Mr. Kejriwal remains the CM
  2. AAP will do its best to wiggle out, but if the BJP assures it that they will vote in favor of JLP bill in Delhi Vidhan Sabha, AAP shall have little choice
  3. This will force Kejriwal & co. to be limited to Delhi, at least for the next few months giving a rather free run to NDA vs Congress battle.

I have great admiration for Mr.Arvind Kejriwal. But I believe he and his party are too raw and unstructured to hold fort at the national level.

At this time, the nation needs to decide between the Development-nationalist plank of Modi or the populist-corrupt-dynastic plank of Shri Rahul Gandhi (Beloved and Respected Leader).

And hence, while people like Mr.Kejriwal MUST be there to be the moral conscience keeper, the billion plus nation needs stability and direction. At present, I believe, AAP should prove their performance in Delhi for a few years before they aspire for the national stage.

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