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Aam Admi Party (AAP) supporters. A large section of AAP leaders fear that middle-class voters in Delhi may ditch the party in the elections for the BJP. Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint
Aam Admi Party (AAP) supporters. A large section of AAP leaders fear that middle-class voters in Delhi may ditch the party in the elections for the BJP.
Photo: Pradeep Gaur/Mint

BJP, AAP modify poll strategy in bid to secure majority in Delhi

AAP is focusing on rurban seats where it lost out in 2013 polls while the BJP eyes constituencies it lost by a narrow margin

New Delhi: The rivalry between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) at the assembly elections in Delhi could boil down to a bitter tussle for a handful of seats, including some key marginals.

BJP is targeting eight marginal constituencies it had lost to AAP the last time around by only 300-2,500 votes. And the AAP, for the first time, is focusing its campaign on 10 semi-urban constituencies, where the party fared badly in the December 2013 assembly elections. The AAP had won only two of those seats and the BJP, seven. There are 70 seats in the assembly. A large section of AAP leaders fear that middle-class voters in Delhi may ditch the party in the elections, dates for which are yet to be announced, and instead vote for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s BJP.

The AAP leaders say that in such a scenario, if the party is able to win more seats in the semi-urban—also known as rural-urban or rurban—constituencies, it will be able to make up for any losses in urban parts of the city-state.

The BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA), which had won 32 seats in the last assembly elections, believes that the party must win Delhi Cantonment, Vikaspuri, Sangam Vihar, Sadar Bazaar and Madipur, where BJP candidates lost by a narrow margin of 355 votes, 405 votes, 777 votes, 796 votes and 1,104 votes respectively to the AAP.

“These are seats which will automatically come to us because of the momentum in favour of BJP because of Modi. The party will work hard to win these seats and we expect that results of these seats will be in BJP’s favour this time," said Sanjay Kaul, Delhi BJP spokesperson.

BJP leaders indicated that if the party is able to win these five seats, plus with Shalimar Bagh and Shakur Basti, which are traditional strongholds of the party, it will be able to form a government on its own. The BJP had lost both these seats to AAP last year.

“The real problem for the BJP is in the seats which used to be our strongholds, but we have lost those seats with huge margins. The seat of Greater Kailash is one such seat which the party lost although it should’ve never lost the seat. The party leadership will have to take some steps to be able to win the seat back," Kaul said.

Among its other strongholds which the BJP is hoping to regain are Chandni Chowk and Model Town. “We have not won these two seats in the previous two elections. These used to be our stronger seats and BJP must work towards winning them," said a senior BJP leader from Delhi.

As Delhi awaits announcement of elections dates, AAP is planning to take the battle to its far bigger rival by targeting the rural constituencies, which were won by the BJP. Out of 10 such constituencies in the 70-seat assembly, the AAP managed to secure just two—Burari and Laxmi Nagar—while the BJP won seven.

“We did not do very well in these areas in the last Vidhan Sabha elections and the parliamentary elections as well. Therefore, in a sense, the imperative of politics invites us to go discover issues in those areas which are genuine issues," said party spokesperson Yogendra Yadav.

Its recently launched Delhi Dialogue campaign, therefore, will have a special focus on the rural areas, spearheaded by a committee led by Naveen Jaihind, who contested the Lok Sabha elections from Rohtak. The role of this committee is to create an organization and connect with the people in rural constituencies.

“We realize that the middle class in Delhi is discouraged by our party. While we continue to improve that, we will be focusing on rural constituencies. We didn’t perform well in these constituencies in the previous assembly and Lok Sabha elections," said a senior leader of the party who did not wish to be named.

In the previous assembly elections, the party failed to make a dent in the rural constituencies.

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