BJP-AAP to confront each other in the Delhi Municipal Polls


With the Congress unable to assert itself in the national capital, the battle for the control of a unified Municipal Corporation of Delhi would be fought mainly between the BJP and AAP, which is seeking to consolidate its position after winning the Assembly elections very convincingly two times in the past. The trifurcated civic body was won by the BJP which believes that it can pull off another victory this time after the Centre unified the three bodies. However, much would depend on how the campaign unfolds. The BJP has a leadership problem in Delhi and has previously won largely because of the central leadership and inability of its opponents to give a good fight. However, Arvind Kejriwal wants to settle things once and for all and if his party comes out the winner, the AAP hold over the capital would have an impact even in the 2024 Lok Sabha showdown. There is intense speculation that the Centre may once again consider an old proposal of bringing in a Mayor in Council type concept if the BJP emerges victorious and may want to do away with the Delhi Assembly. The bureaucracy has never been comfortable with the power of the Centre being diluted by elected representatives and on the pretext of convincing the political class that Delhi being the national capital must retain its distinct identity, keeps on putting forward proposals. In 1989 when the Delhi Metropolitan Council was dissolved and the Municipal body too was superseded, the then government appointed the Sarkaria Commission to end multiplicity of authority in Delhi. However, Justice Sarkaria at that stage was heading some
other commissions as well and to assist him, Balakrishna, a bureaucrat was also appointed.
As was expected Balakrishnan downsized the powers of elected representatives and gave overriding powers to the civil servants. That arrangement continues to this day so far as the Assembly goes. The new municipal body would have greater say and would also affect the role of the Delhi government; the common man has more public dealings with the municipal corporation and less with the government. This was primary reason why the civic body was trifurcated since Sheila Dikshit discovered that her Congress adversary, Ram Babu Sharma, who was the leader of the Municipal Corporation had more clout then her. Interestingly, the date of the poll has been fixed on December 4th, the same day when polling for Delhi Assembly was held in 2013 and where the Congress lost power, and Dikshit was defeated by Kejriwal from the New Delhi segment. Since that time the grand old party has not been able to find its feet in the city and its space if fully occupied by the AAP. The BJP’s efforts would be to
contain Kejriwal’s influence and that would only be possible if it contests the polls with a workable strategy. The national leaders are unlikely to campaign for the local body election. However, the outcome of the contest would be eagerly awaited on 7 December, a day ahead of the results of Himachal and Gujarat elections.
Pankaj Vohra