Delhi votes for economic nationalism

By Shivaji Sarkar

Delhi assembly election goes to soft inclusive skills against the campaigning on hard on issues of identity. It is also a vote for people’s struggle for survival against hardcore finances and a non-relief central budget to the common man. Money is the core in this election. It signifies the comfort or hardship the people are facing. The welfare measures, often called freebies, touch average middle class and the poor – the unorganized working class, who cannot afford a ride on Delhi metro. “It is expensive, we cannot afford”, the common refrain in the Delhi’s jhuggi-jhopri slum clusters. Aam Aadmi party chief minister Arvind Kejriwal touched that cord, presented a soft, people-friendly accessible face. The poor and middle class voted for him, aver many BJP campaigners across the city despite some vote surge for the party, largely cashing on the core Congress votes that split between the AAP and BJP. That raised the tally to 8 from 3 for BJP and slight loss to 62 for AAP.Delhi BJP’s hope that a stronger Congress would help split AAP votes was belied as Congress preferred an AAP victory even at its annihilation. Many see it as strategy of the Congress for not unlikely future opposition alliance. As per Delhi BJP’s assessment, a small percentage of elite congress voters opted for BJP, the larger chunk – the poor, women and minorities – went to AAP.It has hit the BJP poll managers of West Bengal, scheduled to go to the polls early 2021. State party chief Dilip Ghosh wants to go the hard identity way. The softer face Swapan Dasgupta, MP, wants “ideological issues supplemented by a solid governance agenda as also a chief ministerial face”. Dasgupta being a journalist may have read the people’s mind. People in this country still vote for core issues of “rozi-roti-talim (education)”. That has kissed Kejriwal with victory against his non-challant opponent. The Shaheen Bagh-type CAA protests needs to be read also as expression against the discomforting economic policies that have unnerved the people. The raise of Rs 145 raise of LPG prices, steepest since January 2014 of Rs 220, the very next day of the elections, possibly confirms their fear. Dasgupta like many BJP workers echo that sentiment. A chief ministerial face possibly does not matter. The UP elections where BJP did not project a face, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, where it had faces prove that. The BJP was voted to power with great expectations after the failure of Manmohanomics of UPA. It was expected to shun it and chart out a new economics. Somehow it fell into, as many experts say, the Congress trap and led to compromise its basic pro-people manifesto. Interestingly enough, despite that its key leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, still rules the heart and minds of the people. Even during Delhi elections that was evident. People want him but as many Delhi poor say he needs to care more for them with ease on taxes, rail fares, high bank charges, high atrocious toll rates, falling interest rates on deposits, and a budget that denies them necessary reliefs. Average middle class wonders why his ten-year-old fine car be junked to help car makers, as the finance minister says. For the Delhiites, Kejriwal signifies that relief.

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