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Who’ll get the party started?

The AAP has begun public meetings, the BJP has stepped into unauthorised colonies, the Congress still awaits a DPCC chief, all this with Assembly polls around the corner

All three Delhi offices of the main political parties in the Capital city wear a lethargic, calm look on a Tuesday afternoon. This, even though the Assembly elections will take place in a few months — February 2020, if all goes as it should.

The two main parties already hold an advantage: the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which grabbed power from Congress hands in 2013 and then again in 2015 and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP), which had almost wiped out the Congress nationwide before the latter won state elections in Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. With no Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief, the party may be far from comfortable when the Assembly election campaign heats up. Unlike its main opponents, the Congress’ chances are a little iffy.

Either way, a loss would be hardest to bear for the party in power, AAP, for obvious reasons. If the BJP fails to grab power, it will be seen as a test of the Narendra Modi-led Centre’s popularity. For the Congress, which has been on a losing streak, it would be a big boost to win the Capital back.

Talking to Patriot, AAP MLA from Matia Mahal, Asim Ahmed Khan, expresses no sense of anxiety. Asked about the party’s preparations for the election campaign, Khan who is also the Delhi Hajj Committee Chairman says, “Only those prepare for elections who have not worked for the past five years.”

Elaborating on why he has that level of confidence, Khan says, “Since the day we won the elections, we have been working for the people. So, we don’t need to prepare.”

On a clearer note, he said that no planning on the Jan Sabha or public meetings for election campaigns have been drawn up yet. This, despite the fact that just a few days before we spoke, the AAP MLA held a Jan Samvad with posters reading “Dilli main toh Kejriwal”. The meeting in his constituency was also attended by Delhi cabinet minister Gopal Rai.

So, even if its campaigning has not begun, AAP is already reminding people who is in charge of their area, and of all the work they have done.

The Spokesperson of AAP, MLA Saurabh Bharadwaj said he was “too busy” to respond to our questions so we also asked Khan if names for the 70 Vidhan Sabha seats had been decided.

Interestingly, an exercise is currently underway: a survey of the people. “You know that our party leaves all the decisions to the people. It is conducting a survey and making a report card of all the present MLAs and only those that the public is happy with will get the ticket from Kejriwal.”

In the BJP camp, while no names have been decided, they have already started going hard after the people it wants to win — the residents of unauthorised colonies. Its Delhi spokesperson Ashok Goyal tells Patriot that “Different programmes are going on” for the Assembly election. “We had done an outreach programme in the unauthorised colonies of 21 constituencies recently. We will carry out the second phase and then we will go to the other areas with unauthorised colonies”. This makes clear that their accusation that CM Kejriwal is the reason behind the failure to regularise the colonies, will be made their big poll issue.

Goyal adds that the BJP would conduct outreach at “whatever clusters there are” in Delhi, but who will be fighting from the seats has not been decided yet. “This happens with time”, Goyal said, “the decision would take place only after a Delhi election committee is formed”.

In this regard, Congress may have a head start. All India Congress Committee in-charge PC Chacko told Patriot the process to whom to give tickets to has already started. “We have invited all the block presidents to give three names each. And will start discussions with the block presidents at the grass root level”.

But while he maintained that the party “has a plan” for the Assembly elections and that “work for our elections” has begun, he highlighted that the only thing holding them back was the announcement for “DPCC President”.

Clearly, till a president is chosen, Delhi Assembly election plans and preparations lie almost in a limbo for the party. While there are some front-runners for the DPCC chief, Abhishek Kushwaha, a social media coordinator with the party claims former MP Ajay Maken “has the majority. The ex-MPs, ex-MLAs, ex minister’s, ex-councillors are all supporting him and so he has a very high chance of becoming the president again”, he said adding, that “it may also be a shocking decision”.

For the party, staying without a chief who would start the campaign could play into the hands of the opponents, who already have a few advantages.