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Will the 4:3 formula wrest Delhi from the BJP?

The alliance has failed but Congress is likely to win in the three constituencies it wanted via the 4:3 formula. AAP has a fair chance in the four seats it asked for — if votes are cast on those lines. That is Sashikala VP’s prediction

There was dismay in the Capital after the alliance talks between AAP and Congress failed. Anti-BJP voters rued the fact that non-cooperation between the two parties will hurt the greater good – of ousting the BJP from the Centre, even in the face of triangular contests.

Delhi’s seven Lok Sabha seats could have been divided between the two Opposition parties on the much-talked-about 4:3 formula. That is, four seats to AAP and three seats to Congress. We look at the seats AAP and the Congress would have divided up, assessing whether either party’s chances of winning are still high. As Delhi goes to vote on Sunday (May 12), voters could do what the parties failed to do: ensure that the party with the highest chances in that constituency wins the mandate.

Chandni Chowk constituency

Probable winner: Congress

We know the Congress wanted this seat if there had been a tie-up with the AAP, as this area is traditionally its stronghold. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said as much during an interview to a TV channel. Congress’ Kapil Sibal ruled the seat for two terms before it was wrested by Harsh Vardhan, the incumbent BJP MP, who is seeking a second term.

The Congress party’s current candidate is JP Agarwal, who has been MP from both the North East constituency and Chandni Chowk. He is being well received in his home turf. The Muslim votes at least seem to be favouring him. The public meeting hosted by Agarwal in Idgah Road of Sadar Bazar, saw Rahul Gandhi in attendance. It was seemingly a crowd pleaser, as people whom we met after the event, confessed that their support for Congress now became stronger.

As the night drew closer, one could tell that the crowd was really waiting to see and hear the Congress president.  When he eventually did show up, the chants of “Chowkidar chor hain” began spontaneously. Gandhi mostly spoke about the PM and his policies like “Gabbar Singh Tax” — coined by him for the GST. “He loves only himself. Always Mann ki Baat. No one wants to know your mann ki baat”, Gandhi said.

He then went on to speak about his party’s promises, and highlighted how businesses had been affected in that part of the town. But he spoke about Agarwal almost as an afterthought. He ran back to the mic to say “you have to make JP Agarwal win. Vote on ballot number 1”.

Gandhi also in his speech, clearly told off Kejriwal and his supposed desire for seats in Punjab and Haryana which resulted in the breaking off of alliance talks in the Capital. This clear punch means the Congress will play hardball, even as he claimed that both the BJP and the AAP had “lied” about the grand old party.

Here, it does largely look like a fight between the BJP’s incumbent Harsh Vardhan and Congress. But if votes of the traditional Congress voters get divided between the party and the AAP, it could see Vardhan making it first to the finish line.

Here AAP is fielding Pankaj Gupta. The party has promised it will stop the sealing drive. If at all he gets the votes, it will be because of AAP’s good name. However, Tabassum, a Muslim social worker in the area says AAP has not delivered in the area. She called BJP a party of liars who try and suppress Muslims but covertly try and show themselves as champions for Muslim women — pointing at the criminalisation of triple talaq.

New Delhi constituency

Probable winner: Congress

It is a divided constituency. Here BJP’s Meenakshi Lekhi is defending her seat against the Congress’ Ajay Maken and AAP’s Brijesh Goyal. The party’s choice of Maken, who has been an MP from here, is understandable. However, he lost in 2014 by a big number, receiving only 1,82,893 votes against Lekhi’s 4,53,350. The second runner up was the AAP, with its former member Ashish Khetan receiving 2,90,642 votes.

Shopkeepers in Karol Bagh had the same thing to say — it didn’t matter if they were affected by GST or demonetisation, they would vote for the BJP. They felt that the country’s standing in the world order had become better under Modi’s rule. They also believed that 28 countries for which visa is not required to travel with an Indian passport happened under the Modi government. The number is 56, four more than under Congress rule.

A housewife we met said she didn’t believe the Modi government had done much, at least not in her area or for her. She believed the Congress would be a better bet now and that they should come into power. Her husband, a retiree, is not receiving his pension.

For AAP, who have fielded Brijesh Goyal, a member of the party since its inception, the support is thin — most don’t agree with voting for them in the Lok Sabha elections. Also, the constituency having many middle class, and upper middle class residents, who believe the AAP is working for the economically weaker sections by handing them “freebies” like water and electricity.

North East constituency

Probable winner: Congress

This seat could be easily won by the Congress. Here the party is fielding Delhi’s former chief minister, who held her seat for 15 years, Sheila Dikshit. It has also seen Priyanka Gandhi campaign, another feather to Dikshit’s cap.

Also, it doesn’t seem likely that Congress would field a senior member such as her if it didn’t intend to grab it from their once foe, then friend, turned foe again — AAP. But, it has cause for worry, because the incumbent MP who will try and snatch the seat again is Manoj Tiwari.

What works in her favour, unlike her AAP opponent Dilip Pandey, is that she is a household name. But then again, it was this party which defeated her and her long-standing reign in 2013.

Her support base will be the minority votes, which in the last elections were divided between the Congress and the AAP. This time, as residents of Mustafabad told us, they will make sure to vote for the Congress.

There were a few, however, who didn’t concur with the idea and instead pointed at the better education and health facilities brought in by the state government.

Tiwari on his part has not done much for the area, according to most of its residents.  While he was earlier known as the Bhojpuri singer, he also come to be known as one who defies court orders. During the Supreme Court mandated sealing drive, he tried to be a crusader for his vote bank, when he broke the seal of a building in Gokulpuri. Whether this amounts to votes will have to be seen.

East Delhi constituency

Probable winner: AAP

In East Delhi constituency, Atishi garners good response not just because of her experience with the AAP but because the party shares a good rapport in the constituency. Many say the party has brought in positive changes, although all may not know her name. Her BJP opponent Gautam Gambhir, a cricketer turned politician is up against a woman with the reputation of being the main architect of the reform of state-run education in Delhi.

Congress’ Arvinder Singh Lovely, enjoys a good base amongst Sikh and Punjabi voters. He has won four times as an MLA from the area, which means he is already a well-known name. Additionally, he is a voter from here. By fielding him, Congress is not showing signs of ceding its seat in AAP’s favour. Rahul Gandhi even addressed a public meeting in Geeta Colony.

It is up to voters now whether they agree to the 4:3 formula.

South Delhi constituency

Probable winner: AAP

Here, AAP’s Raghav Chadha, the party’s national spokesperson, says his fight is to remove the ‘gunda raj’ of the incumbent, BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri. The JJ clusters and unauthorised colonies by and large praise the work done by the party, while there may be a few disenchanted. The latter, thus may vote for the Congress, like a clique from Govindpuri who believe that bringing the Congress back is the better option.

However, the constituency has many BJP voters in the form of Jat and Gujjars. Bidhuri being a Gujjar, votes may again go to him.

Younger voters who may be swayed away by the Congress candidate, boxer Vijender Singh, a Jat. His candidature does not seem like Congress is ready to back down. However, he does not seem much like a politician, lacking experience, unlike the other two.

West Delhi constituency

Probable winner: AAP

The incumbent MP, Parvesh Singh Verma of the BJP, won by a big margin in 2014. This was a whopping 6,51,395 votes, compared to a dismal performance by Congress’ Mahabal Mishra at 1,93,266. Projecting him again, seems like the Congress is ready to throw him into a pit of fire, but then again, Mishra won in 2009.

Seeing the numbers, only a strong anti-incumbency mood can displace the BJP from power.  Like that of a few small-scale shop owners in Uttam Nagar, who vented their anger towards the BJP. Others believe that the BJP has not done enough to build better road networks which are constantly choked by traffic.

Furthermore, voters here cited lack of good governance and hospital facilities. This could be tackled with the promise that the AAP’s MP aspirant Balbir Singh Jakhar has made — to provide a super-speciality hospital on lines of AIIMS.

But, there are areas like Dwarka and Janakpuri which is seeing large support for the BJP — not because of Verma’s good work but because they want Modi to remain prime minister.

The chances of the seat thus going to Mishra seems a little dismal. But with his having been an MLA and MP from here before, could turn out to be in his favour.

North west constituency

Probable winner: AAP

This reserved seat has BJP fielding singer Hans Raj Hans. Here the AAP is fielding Gugan Singh Ranga and Congress — Rajesh Lilothia.

Voters in favour of AAP say they believe government schools have come on par with private establishments. A voter at Mangolpuri said the Mohalla clinics were in a much better condition and that he and his family would be voting to bring in AAP.

The vote bank seems split in areas such as Vishwas Nagar which faced the brunt of the sealing drive. While factories were shifted out, shops which remain do not get enough customers and so their businesses are suffering. Yet many confess that they will still vote for the BJP — again using the Modi card which has, according to them, ensured better national security.

Here, regions like Rohini are BJP bastions and changing their mind would be slightly more difficult.

Congress, on the other hand, does not enjoy much clout with Lilothia being dubbed an outsider. But he does promise things which are of grave importance to the people here, like safety for women, which he said both the AAP and BJP “failed to deliver” and then the construction of toilets, which many clusters of this area lack.

In a majority of these constituencies, however, the likelihood of votes getting divided between Congress and AAP is high. But with Chadha claiming that they would get into an alliance if the need arises on May 23, there may still be hope for some.