Why Arvind Kejriwal is worried despite the exit polls predicting a sweep by his AAP
By Vijaya Pushkarna
Senior BJP leader Prakash Javadekar showed tremendous wisdom , when he told television channels that he would not want to react to exit poll results,but prefer to wait for the exact poll results. Alas, the party’s Delhi unit president Manoj Tewari, did not show similar maturity. The Bhojpuri actor was hoping to be that undeclared face of the BJP chief minister should the party win.
Tewari was free to say whatever he wanted—that they will win, win all the 70 seats etc etc. But in the party’s typical taunting tone, he added that when that—BJP’s win—happens, the Aam Aadmi Party had better not blame the Electronic Voting Machines.
The focus on the EVMs had the effect Tewari wanted it to have on the party that looks all set to come back to office. It unnerved the AAP leadership who huddled to plan how to depute volunteers to guard the strong rooms where the EVMs are stored, and keep an eye on everything around it. It did not help that the waiting period between end of polling and start of counting would be more than 48 hours!
After the exit polls predicted a sweep by the AAP, Home Minister Amit Shah convened a meeting of all Delhi MPs( all 7of them are from the BJP) and senior Delhi unit leaders—mind you, Shah, and not the BJP president J P Nadda. Coming out of that meeting, MP Meenakshi Lekhi, said BJP voters had cast their vote after 5 pm, and did not form part of the exit polls, and reasoned that they would win.
That was when the AAP panicked. Shah’s strategies are not the cleanest or smartest, and he can go to any extent to ensure a BJP government. This has been seen two years ago in Karnataka, a little before that in Goa, and more recently in Maharashtra.
Lekhi’s remark read with the fact that the Election Commission had not declared the total turnout, was what made AAP leader and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal see red. What if the election regulator declares a very high turnout, giving muscle to Lekhi’s logic? He questioned the delay, and the BJP responded that it was an insult to the voters of Delhi, and that Kejriwal was questioning the EC.
The Election Commission of India is one of the many institutions that have come under a cloud since Prime Minister Narendra Modi assumed office in 2014.
In 2017 October, the election body gave a miss to the practice of bunching assembly elections in two or more states when they become due around the same time. The ECI announced Nov 9 polls for Himachal, and December 9 and 14 for Gujarat, where the Congress and the BJP were locked in one of the fiercest battles well ahead of elections. There was wide spread criticism that the ECI had given the BJP and the Gujarat government time of woo voters with sops before the Model Code of Conduct kicked in.
In 2018, the BJP’s IT cell tweeted the Karnataka poll dates –May 12 and 15—well before the ECI announced them.
Both these have given the opposition parties reasons to believe that all is not fair, and now Kejriwal the grounds for panicking over the EVMs and the delay in declaring the final turnout per cent at the Feb 8 polls.
And apart from not being able to shed its habit of displaying bravado and brazenness, the BJP can pull all stops in the current elections—for at stake is the party’s ideological goal of CAA that became the centre piece of the campaign, as well as the prestige of Prime Minister Modi in whose name the party sought votes, and the invincibility of Home Minister Shah who led the campaign.