New Delhi: As it gears up to challenge the ruling AAP in the assembly elections early next year, the Delhi unit of the BJP has a problem — the three municipal corporations of the city which it controls.
Senior BJP leaders have already asked the state unit to highlight the work of the Narendra Modi government, which the Delhi BJP is also quite confident about. However, the local bodies in Delhi have failed to impress, an issue party leaders have red-flagged.
All three bodies — North Delhi Municipal Corporation, South Delhi Municipal Corporation and East Delhi Municipal Corporation — have been facing flak for corruption, red-tape and not doing enough on road upkeep, drains and unauthorised construction in the city.
“A number of local leaders have said they are facing two major issues: How to counter the sops and freebies announced by the AAP government, and the poor work and image of the municipal corporations. This is our best chance to win Delhi, and these issues have to be resolved soon,” a senior BJP leader told ThePrint.
Meeting with Javadekar
Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Prakash Javadekar, the BJP’s in-charge for the Delhi elections, held a meeting Thursday with district-level leaders to understand the issues and challenges. The meeting was also attended by Union ministers of state Hardeep Singh Puri and Nityanand Rai.
The local leaders are worried that while highlighting central schemes brought the BJP all seven seats in the Lok Sabha elections in May, assembly elections are fought on local issues. The AAP has also been constantly highlighting the poor performance of the corporations — whether it is building collapses, cleaning of drains or mismanagement of parking lots.
“Issues related to parking, unauthorised construction, upkeep of the markers, getting building plans — the AAP has been highlighting all these issues to counter us. We are also unable to counter them as the three corporations are not doing enough,” said a second BJP leader.
“While they have been announcing sops every day, we don’t have much to highlight. Though we are countering them on where they will get the funds from for the schemes, we can’t run a negative campaign. We have to show people the alternative too.”
Scheme for unauthorised colonies
The local leaders have asked the central government to announce a scheme especially for unauthorised colonies, which can be turned into a major poll plank. However, the central leadership has asked the state unit not to publicly comment on these issues until that is done.
Unauthorised colonies are a major vote-bank in Delhi, as they are home to 30-35 per cent of the city’s population.
Why the polls are crucial for BJP
The Delhi elections are crucial for the BJP since it has been out of power in the national capital since 1998.
In the 2013 Delhi assembly elections, which saw the debut of the AAP, the BJP had emerged as the single largest party with 32 of the 70 seats. But the AAP, which won 28, formed the government with outside support from eight MLAs of the Congress.
Forty-nine days later, Arvind Kejriwal resigned after all non-AAP MLAs, including a JD(U) legislator and an independent, opposed his bid to introduce the Jan Lokpal Bill in the assembly.
A year later, the AAP was back in office with a stunning majority, winning 67 of Delhi’s 70 seats in the 2015 assembly elections.