MCD Elections: AAP on test for transition to cadre-based party

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By Manish Anand

New Delhi, December 3: With the people all set to vote for the Municipal Corporation of Delhi elections on Sunday, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has more to prove for its hold in the city politics. The AAP is seeking to a quick-fire ride to national politics, with Delhi as the base.

The AAP was unsuccessful in unseating the Bharatiya Janata Party from power in the civic bodies in the 2017 elections for the corporations. The civic bodies have now been unified, undoing the Sheila Dikshit move to clip the political wings of the municipal corporations with the trifurcation. A united MCD will be a formidable political entity, with the mayor again becoming the first citizen of the city, while also laying claim to a status at par with Chief Minister of the national capital.

The AAP has won Delhi and Punjab solely on the basis of the party riding on popular waves, with the underlying theme of the people losing interest in the established political parties. The AAP consolidated gains in Delhi by building on its politics of freebies with free electricity and water and adding to the narrative by building an image of working on the turnaround in education and health, which have been richly marketed and publicised by the mainstream media. Water and electricity have always been the centre issues in the Delhi politics.

Former Chief Minister late Sheila Dikshit had laid the grounds for freebies with free units for electricity and water. Incumbent CM Arvind Kejriwal has only enhanced the scope of free electricity and water, with aggressive ownership of the freebies, which Dikshit never promoted.

Political observers are of the views that MCD elections are all about the cadre strength, including the candidates’ abilities to bag those extra votes, which make the difference in the outcome of the polls. Extra 1500 votes can make all the differences. The AAP has to demonstrate that the party has a formidable cadre strength in the national capital. That will demonstrate if the AAP has made the transition to a cadre-based party.

There is a consensus opinion among the political observers that the Poorvanchali (migrants) vote base in the national capital has lock stock and barrel gone into the kitty, with Congress and BJP struggling to shed the images of being Punjabi parties. Poorvanchalis were the mainstay of the Sheila Dikshit’s popularity, which made her keep the BJP out of power in the city since 1998.

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