BJP Aping AAP

By Sunil Dang

Even though the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has won comfortably in Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand and stopped Congress to form government in Goa and Manipur — though the grand old party was the single largest party — the ‘party with difference’ is looking uncomfortable in Delhi MCD Polls against Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). It became visible when the BJP tried to counter the AAP MCD Poll promise regarding House Tax waiver. The Delhi BJP unit criticized AAP citing neither MCD nor Delhi government have the power to waive house tax while in actual this power lies with the MCD itself and this arrangement has been existing since 1993. This time it’s BJP which is lying to the people of Delhi. I was expecting BJP to counter AAP for freebees that would gallop the MCD funds, which is already running through financial crisis. If MCD would waive house tax, how would they pare that ex-gratia loss to the MCD exchequers?

From political perspective, BJP has reasons for not criticizing AAP’s freebee politics because after 2013, when Arvind Kejriwal took over as Delhi CM with the support of Congress, he coined a new kind of politics where public representatives would be easily available. Defying VIP Culture, they would showcase their work to the public as if they are one of them. Recently, the BJP roared to power in various states with same kind of poll promises and the way their ministers have been working in UP, Goa, Gujarat and some other states, it looks that BJP took the cue from AAP that people want a new kind of politicians. No VIP culture, no red beamer on the minister’s car, going directly to the public regarding their requirements and queering about the public expectation directly from the public itself has become a USP of various BJP ministers in centre and state.

It’s not that only BJP is imitating AAP, Congress is also taking cue from the AAP leaders about what public demands from their respective representatives. In Punjab, Congress leader and State Finance Minister Manpreet Badal is not using red beamer on his car and was found penalizing a traffic policeman taking bribe after creating traffic jam. Their leaders in Delhi too are found in various slums asking people to raise their demands as they are going to showcase those issues into the MCD Polls. Since, BJP has been in power in all three wings of the MCD for last ten years, both AAP and Congress party is looking to cash-in this ten years of anti-incumbency that may work against the BJP. However, AAP has clear strategy to counter BJP; Congress is looking to transform itself into the new age politics that came into effect after the rise of Arvind Kejriwal in Indian politics.

Sensing the changes that took place after arrival of Arvind Kejriwal in Indian politics, BJP has transformed itself very fast while other regional leaders are still not out of the poll shocks that BJP has been giving polls after polls to them, especially BSP and SP leadership in UP. People may argue, if AAP’s style of politics was so penetrative, why did they failed in 2014 when they could win only four Lok Sabha seats and more than 100 of its candidates lost their deposits? Actually, AAP is a nascent party and they don’t have such a huge devoted party structure which the BJP has. Hence, it was easy for the BJP to fast implement this AAP style of politics at pan India level so that if AAP do that in course of their expansion, people get disinterested as it won’t be new for them. Though, it’s too early to assert, but probably this was one of the major reasons for AAP being unable to trump BJP in Goa while in Punjab both BJP and Congress were indulge in same AAP style of politics. But, it’s for sure that AAP has changed the Indian political course and both BJP and Congress are imitating it. Hope, BJP would also take cue from AAP’s Punjab and Goa deabcle and give another thought over its decision to repeat all Delhi MCD councillors.

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