AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal had last month claimed that BJP decided to postpone the Delhi polls to April since it was not sure of its chances. His tweet attracted a fair bit of attention because the announcements and initiatives taken by the Delhi government and the Centre made it clear that elections were not too far away. Clearing the way for battery-operated rickshaws to return and regularisation of unauthorised colonies left little doubt about what was in store, according to an article in The Times of India.
What was even more baffling was the fact that Kejriwal did not let his suspicion about BJP's secretive plan to shift polls interfere with AAP's preparations to face elections. AAP spokespersons actually started claiming that they were one up on BJP by being the first ones off the block. So when the polls were announced on Monday, the assumption that Kejriwal's declaration of an April election was meant to project AAP as the favourite and BJP as the opponent with cold feet was vindicated.
The tactic is the trademark of the spunky outfit which is nimbler than mainstream parties and has managed to outwit its opponents with unconventional tricks. As BJP seeks to stretch to Delhi the victory run under Prime Minister and party president Amit Shah, its strategists are having to factor in the unorthodox challenge in the form of AAP.
The advantage for AAP is that it seems to be holding on to pockets of influence it acquired among JJ clusters and lower middle class colonies on the strength of its populist plank. Its image as 'anarchist' is actually working with these sections that have to endure petty corruption. With Congress and other "secular" parties not being that much of a threat, it is sure to get the vast majority of Muslim votes.
BJP, however, is hopeful of prevailing, banking on the fact that AAP has developed a soft underbelly it did not have the last time. It has planned to highlight AAP's inability to keep promises: such as the one to regularise the jobs of casual employees of power companies, DTC and teachers in government schools. That Kejriwal was unable to provide subsidy needed for those who consumed less than 400 units in the budget presented might be played up to support the case of "fake promises" against the young outfit.
The BJP also feels that AAP's anti-corruption credentials will not have the same effect as it did against Congress in the last round. Shah's leadership is another aspect which BJP feels will account for the AAP factor just like in the Lok Sabha polls.