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BJP banks on high turnout

New Delhi, Dec. 3: Blame the imponderables if the BJP loses the Delhi polls for the fourth time — it has drawn up a list of reasons if it doesn’t make the grade again.

But to the battle first for tomorrow’s polls. The BJP is counting on a high turnout, of over 70 per cent, to come close to a majority.

Sources said in the previous elections in 2008, 2003 and 1998 — which the Congress won — the turnout ranged from 49 per cent in 1998 to 57.58 per cent in 2008. In 1993, when the BJP was voted to power, it was 62 per cent.

“Our voters are peculiar. The committed ones usually show up but even they need a strong push from a favourable ambience. If they see that the atmospherics are not favouring the BJP, they lose interest and often don’t bother to vote. That’s what happened the last three times when the Congress won,” an office-bearer said.

The worries are compounded by the presence of the third force, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).

“Our committed voters are not enough to get us to the half-way mark (36 in the 70-member Assembly). We have to go beyond this base,” said a BJP south Delhi candidate who was a legislator in the outgoing Assembly.

He pointed out that the BJP “draws a larger constituency, from housing societies (that proliferated in the suburbs in the ’80s and ’90s) to old colonies peopled by the Partition refugees and their progenies”. “This time, our feedback is the younger voters in these places are rooting for Kejriwal’s party.”

The BJP’s best bet is that if the AAP spirits away a bulk of the votes from the JJ (jhuggi-jhopdi) clusters — which have always largely backed the Congress — the ruling party would be a worse sufferer.

“This is where turnout comes into play. A large turnout signifies an anti-Congress mood. The voters could be for the Aam Aadmi Party and the BJP. If the former gets the votes of the slum-dwellers, it is advantage the BJP. But if it cuts into those of the upper and middle classes, our tally may not be high,” the outgoing MLA said.

Crippled as it was by its failure to project a chief minister candidate until Harshvardhan was picked, BJP sources said their “solace” was that while the doctor — he is an ENT specialist — was not singularly charismatic, he was not controversial or divisive.

But Harshvardhan’s projection was not to the liking of Vijay Goel, the Delhi BJP president. Some party leaders suspect Goel is damaging the BJP’s winning chances in the Bania strongholds in west and north Delhi. He is from the community.

Another worry is that the BJP, in trying to be safe, has re-nominated most of its 23 MLAs, exposing itself to the risk of “anti-incumbency”.

The “silver lining”, sources said, was that Narendra Modi’s high-decibel electioneering.