Shaheen Bagh Becomes BJP’s Ammo For Delhi Polls. Budget Is A Bonus

Today’s shooting at Jamia Millia Islamia by a man who had posted “Shaheen Bagh, game over,” shows high tensions have begun to run in Delhi. The BJP’s non-stop campaign against Shaheen Bagh is encouraging its supporters, and more violence could follow. It was waiting to happen. Yesterday was a precursor, a man waving a gun, today the gun went off.

Will more violence follow? And why is Shaheen Bagh so critical to the BJP?

The BJP needs Arvind Kejriwal out. In the multiple power centre that makes for Delhi’s governance, the BJP controls the police, the DDA (Delhi Development Authority) and municipal corporations, but it does not rule Delhi completely.

In this fractured set up, Kejriwal is a sore thumb, and nationally a politician who worries the BJP. Kejriwal has many advantages; he is relatively young, seen as not corrupt, connects with the masses and offers a long term threat to the BJP dream of a 30-year Raj. Being Chief Minister of Delhi gives Kejriwal a voice far more compelling than most Chief Ministers as he draws national media attention easily and he knows how to use it.

Unfortunately for the BJP, it has done little for Delhi through its various power centres to trumpet as achievements. The law and order situation remains terrible, as does traffic; the three MCDs have achieved little in terms of cleanliness and by and large remain inefficient; the DDA builds unattractive housing which it is finding impossible to get rid of, even many of the famous Commonwealth Games Village apartments haven’t been sold; claims of the additional 200 km of metro is a shared glory with Kejriwal, (worse, the claim that 6 million travel daily on the metro is dubious. At best, this number has been reached only a few times, as exorbitant fare hikes make the metro uneconomical to the poor).

The strange thing is that while the BJP has swept Delhi in the last two Lok Sabha elections (57% of the vote in 2019), locally they have performed poorly. The BJP seldom crosses 37 per cent in the assembly and MCD elections and hasn’t won the assembly since the forgotten days of 1993 when they had 42 per cent. Added to this unpalatable broth is that the BJP has floundered in Haryana, lost Jharkhand, made a mess of its alliance in Maharashtra, and if it hadn’t been for money bags in Karnataka, they would not be in power there. With the exception of Karnataka and Gujarat, they don’t run a state south of UP-Bihar.

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