New Delhi, Dec. 23: Done out of power for the fourth term on the trot in the national capital, the BJP is trying to make the best of a bad situation now that a Congress-backed Aam Aadmi Party dispensation looks imminent.
Sources said the BJP would purvey the message that a vote for the AAP was in effect a vote to return a “corrupt and decadent” Congress to the Centre, aware that Arvind Kejriwal’s party could impair its prospects in the Lok Sabha elections too in Delhi and other urban hubs.
“We always suspected the AAP to be a Congress creation because Kejriwal attacked us with equal fury in the Delhi polls although we were not in power for the past 15 years. He has joined hands with the Congress, so our suspicion is confirmed. The AAP is the Congress’s B-team,” spokesperson Prakash Javdekar said.
In Uttar Pradesh, the BJP has almost successfully spread the word that voting for the Samajwadi Party and/or the BSP is equivalent to electing the Congress because both end up supporting the Congress in the name of “secularism” if there is a number crunch.
Therefore, if voters didn’t want the Congress or a surrogate, they should opt for the Congress’s only “bona fide” adversary — the BJP.
Delhi BJP leader Harshvardhan bounced off the idea in his first reactions to an AAP-Congress understanding. “The AAP fought the election on the anti-corruption plank and now they have taken support from a party that has been completely rejected by the people of Delhi. This proves the AAP is hungry for power. This is a betrayal of the wishes of the people of Delhi,” he said.
Yesterday, Rajya Sabha Opposition leader Arun Jaitley had debunked as “farcical” the referendum held by Kejriwal to assess if he should form a government or not. He said it had a “self-serving model” in that it “masked political opportunism with the idea of popular sanction behind it”.
“Is this the beginning of the alternative politics (espoused by Kejriwal) or the end of it?” Jaitley wondered.
There were two aspects to the BJP’s reading of the Congress-AAP arrangement.
One was that Kejriwal could be “strategizing on how to capture power, announce a few popular decisions and carve out a further positioning for itself”, as Jaitley noted in his Sunday Facebook post.
BJP sources said if Kejriwal managed to implement even one of his big-ticket promises like slashing power tariff before the 2014 battle, he could become a “serious” competitor for a big slice of urban votes in other metros that until recently the BJP was convinced belonged to Narendra Modi.
“Kejriwal will have proved that he is not a peddler of dreams, he means what he says. We believe this is also Modi’s forte. These votes are not the BJP’s committed votes but we had reasons to believe the voters were taken up with Modi’s eloquence and his record of governance. Our feedback was also that those in Delhi who rooted for the AAP in the Assembly polls would opt for Modi in the Lok Sabha elections. Now we are a tad unsure, especially if Kejriwal delivers substantially in the next four months,” a leader admitted.
The second part of the BJP’s understanding of the AAP-Congress relationship was that the Congress was “deploying” Kejriwal to undermine the “Modi aura” and to contain the popular undercurrent he had supposedly unleashed.
“For the Congress, Modi is enemy number one. It will do anything to check his popularity. It thinks Kejriwal is a good counterweight against Modi, especially in the cities and towns. In Delhi, we have to confess we could not answer the AAP’s campaign that equated us with the Congress and established there was no difference between the two on the corruption score. We must not allow them to replicate this campaign elsewhere,” a source said.
The worst nightmare for Modi and his admirers in the BJP is a tally of 160 or 170 which, they believe, would effectively put him out of the reckoning for the Prime Minister’s post.
This is why, a source claimed, the BJP’s anti-Modi cabal is as “interested” as the Congress in positioning Kejriwal as a foil.