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Business News/ Politics / News/  ‘Tiger is back’: How Arvind Kejriwal’s bail alters Lok Sabha poll campaign dynamics in Delhi and beyond

‘Tiger is back’: How Arvind Kejriwal’s bail alters Lok Sabha poll campaign dynamics in Delhi and beyond

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: A day after his release from Tihar jail, Arvind Kejriwal will hold a roadshow South Delhi on Saturday. The AAP campaign focus now shifts to 'fight against dictatorship.' The BJP also mulls restructuring strategy ahead of polling for seven seats on May 25.

‘Tiger is back’: How Arvind Kejriwal’s release changes Lok Sabha campaign dynamics in Delhi & beyond (AAP-X)Premium
‘Tiger is back’: How Arvind Kejriwal’s release changes Lok Sabha campaign dynamics in Delhi & beyond (AAP-X)

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal will hold a roadshow in South Delhi on Saturday, a day after the Supreme Court granted him interim bail concerning his alleged role in the liquor policy case. Before the roadshow, Kejriwal offered prayers at Hanuman Mandir in Delhi's Connaught Place.

The roadshow at the main Mehrauli market of the national capital begins at 4 pm with top Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leaders, including Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, in attendance. AAP leader Sahiram Pahalwan is opposition INDIA bloc's candidate against Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Ramvir Singh Bidhuri in South Delhi seat. 

Later in the day, Kejriwal will hold another roadshow in East Delhi's Krishnagar area. 

Follow Live Updates on Arvind Kejriwal's release here

After being in jail for 50 days, Kejriwal, the AAP star campaigner, begins the poll campaign in the middle of the Lok Sabha Elections 2024. While three phases of polling are over, four more rounds are scheduled to take place on May 13, May 20, May 25 and June 1. Twenty parliamentary seats in Delhi and Punjab – two states where the Kejriwal-led AAP is in power – will go to polls in the fifth and sixth phase on May 25 and June 1, respectively.

‘Tiger is back’: How Arvind Kejriwal’s bail alters Lok Sabha poll campaign dynamics in Delhi and beyond
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‘Tiger is back’: How Arvind Kejriwal’s bail alters Lok Sabha poll campaign dynamics in Delhi and beyond

The Enforcement Directorate arrested Kejriwal on March 21. He is out on bail until June 1, when the last day of polling for general elections will be held. The results of seven-phase Lok Sabha polls will be declared on June 4.

Shift in Campaign Dynamics

Until his release, the focus of AAP campaign has been on Kejriwal’s arrest. The posters carried a picture of the Delhi Chief Minister behind the bars. Now that the AAP chief is out, albeit temporarily, the campaign dynamics will change. The poster for the Saturday's roadshow reads the ‘Tiger is back’ slogan. It will be Kejriwal’s first roadshow in the Lok Sabha election 2024.

Also Read: Arvind Kejriwal released: Back at crease, will Delhi CM be the impact player in Lok Sabha polls?

Posters apart, AAP has already started redrawing its campaign strategy with focus on Arvind Kejriwal during his interim bail. While there are no restrictions on Kejriwal’s campaign, he has only been barred from visiting the Chief Minister's Office and the Delhi Secretariat and referring to the Delhi liquor policy case in his speeches, in the bail conditions.

Sources said Kejriwal’s campaign in the next few weeks will focus on the ‘fight against tanashahi (dictatorship)’ to ‘save the democracy and constitution’ poll pitch. “I have tried my best. But 140 crore people of Delhi have to fight against the dictatorship," Kejriwal said soon after coming out of Tihar jail on Friday evening.

In Delhi, the AAP is contesting elections in alliance with the Congress party as part of opposition INDIA bloc. The AAP got four seats in Delhi while the Congress has fielded candidates in the remaining three seats as per the seat-sharing deal. 

In Punjab, the party is contesting 13 seats on its own. After focusing on Delhi until May 23, the last day of campaigning for May 25 polls in the national capital, Kejriwal is scheduled to shift to Punjab for campaigning.  The Delhi CM is also expected to go to Kurukshetra in Haryana once before the May 25 polls. The AAP is contesting Kurukshetra seat of Haryana as part of seat sharing arrangement with the Congress.  

While AAP has not won any Lok Sabha seat in Delhi so far, it won one seat in Punjab in 2019 elections and four seats in 2014. 

The BJP response

The BJP is also said to have restructured its election strategy in the national capital, where it won all seven Lok Sabha seats of Delhi in 2014 and 2019. The BJP, sources said, will be more aggressive against the INDIA bloc, and Arvind Kejriwal, than it has already been. 

The party feels Kejriwal’s release will have a negative impact on its chances in at least three out of seven Delhi seats — Northeast Delhi, Chandni Chowk and West Delhi, according to a report in The Indian Express.

“These are seats where the population in JJ colonies and slums is high and their residents have traditionally been AAP supporters, and before that, of the Congress. In 2019, we could manage just a little over 40% of the vote share from those living in such areas in these Lok Sabha seats while the rest was split between AAP and Congress," the report quoted a BJP leader as saying.

Also Read: Arvind Kejriwal's schedule on first day after interim release from Tihar jail: From Hanuman Temple visit to roadshow

After Kejriwal’s release, Union minister Amit Shah said the people will remind him of the excise policy scam. "This is not regular bail. It is an interim bail. He can campaign but every time he goes to campaign, people will be reminded of the excise scam," Shah said.

Boost for INDIA bloc

The release of Kejriwal, one of the prominent opposition leaders, has provided a boost to the opposition INDIA bloc too. Kejriwal is among the two opposition chief ministers who have been in jail in the election season. Another opposition Chief Minister Hemant Soren resigned before being arrested. Kejriwal continued to be the CM in jail. 

The release was welcomed by many leaders of INDIA bloc parties including the Samajwadi Party, the Congress and the Trinamool Congress.

Also Read: Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Their silence ominous, says Chidambaram on demand to probe PM Modi's 'Ambani-Adani' jibe

Kejriwal might campaign for INDIA bloc in seats beyond Delhi and Punjab too, according to AAP sources, if the other parties want him to. 

Analysts say, keeping in mind Arvind Kejriwal’s style of campaigning, he might make the Lok Sabha contest difficult for the BJP, at least in Delhi. “It remains to be seen what idioms Kejriwal uses during his campaigns, but as a leader, he has the ability to make the contests in Delhi very tough for the BJP," said Rahul Verma, political analyst and fellow, Centre for Policy Research (CPR).

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Published: 11 May 2024, 08:30 AM IST
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