By Anindya Banerjee
New Delhi, February 8 (IANS) With Delhi now having decided whom it wants to handover the baton to rule for the next five years, a loss to either the AAP or the BJP, will deal a huge blow. Delhi elections have always been much more than just a state assembly poll. And this poll especially is an existential crisis for one versus the loss of face to another.
BJP's loss would mean Amit 'Chanakya' Shah's personal loss:
When you are Amit Shah, the burden of performing each time is akin to a Virat Kohli going out to bat every time. After a series of unprecedented wins, Shah, who is called the 'Chanakya' of BJP has been having a 'bad patch', as many calls it in cricket parlance. Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Jharkhand -- the list of defeats have been stretching and weighing down heavily.
Another loss, before the crucial Bihar polls, won't send a good signal.
One may argue, Shah is no longer the party boss, it's Jagat Prakash Nadda.
However, it should be noted that not only did the organisational elections took place in the mid of the high profile Delhi campaign, but Shah had gone full throttle to win Delhi.
His road shows were huge and the decible was at full blast -- so a win or loss would be seen as a personal one.
Shah has pressed most of his party MPs to action, called almost all BJP Chief Ministers to campaign against Arvind Kejriwal. From Vijay Rupani to Devendra Fadnavis, Biplab Deb to Shivraj Singh Chouhan -- all big faces of the party were seen holding road shows, street corner meetings and even mingling with Delhites with one intent -- to defeat the AAP.
Members of Parliament from Assam, West Bengal, Karnataka were used in areas dominated by Assamese, Bengali and Kannadigas, respectively. In that way, Shah has gone way too far in his fight, to ensure a BJP's win.
The fight has been unequal with a state party and its CM on one side and the might of the BJP and its top guns on the other. While a win will reassert Amit Shah as indeed the Virat Kohli that BJP can bet upon, a loss will be less of a party and more of Shah's ego.
A loss for AAP will mean existential crisis:
A loss for the Aam Aadmi Party will mean an existential crisis. The party that once was aspiring to be a national party has been cuckooned in the national capital.
In 2014, AAP won Patiala, Sangrur, Faridkot and Fatehgarh Sahib. In 2017, the party hoped big in Punjab election but a resurgent Amarinder Singh of the Congress thwarted its advancs. Though, it emerged as an opposition with a strong foothold in Punjab's Malwa region, animated infighting led the party to its non significant existence.
Come 2019 general election, AAP's remaining influence in Punjab was flushed away when it won just one seat across India, from Punjab's Sangrur -- Bhagwant Mann. Though Arvind Kejriwal took a shot by fielding candidates from Delhi, Chandigarh, Bihar, Goa, Punjab, Andaman and Nicobar, Haryana, Odisha and Uttar Pradesh; just one won.
AAP recorded its highest vote share in the national capital at 18.10 per cent, in 2019 general election. This alone speaks volumes of how limited the party has been. Moreover, Kejriwal left state faces like Anjali Damania or Mayank Gandhi who could cultivate local talents for the party, disillusioned.
So, if AAP loses Delhi on February 11, it will be it's political epitaph.
In this battle for the nation's capital, one has to lose. While the celebration will be at its loudest at one party headquarter, the silence will be strikingly deafening in the other party office.
(Anindya Banerjee can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)